Learning from Mistakes: Practical Tips for Creatives
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 8 min read


  1. View mistakes as opportunities
  2. Analyze the mistake
  3. Document your findings
  4. Create a correction plan
  5. Implement the plan
  6. Review the outcome
  7. Incorporate feedback
  8. Cultivate resilience
  9. Practice patience
  10. Stay curious and open-minded

Every creative journey encounters bumps along the road. These bumps are often mistakes. Yet, they aren't roadblocks, but stepping stones toward improvement. In fact, learning from mistakes in creative endeavors becomes the catalyst for growth. Within every mistake lies an opportunity for growth, a chance to refine your craft, and an invitation to become a better version of your creative self. This blog post is your practical guide to turning those creative missteps into powerful learning experiences.

View mistakes as opportunities

Mistakes. They can feel like a punch to the gut, especially when you've poured your heart and soul into a creative project. But here's a game changer: start viewing mistakes not as failures, but as opportunities. Opportunities for what, you ask? Let's break it down:

  • Learning: Every mistake is a lesson in disguise. By making a mistake, you have uncovered a new way that doesn't work. That's valuable knowledge! Apply this learning in your future creative endeavors, and you're one step closer to finding a way that does work.
  • Growth: Mistakes push you out of your comfort zone, forcing you to stretch your creative muscles. This growth might feel uncomfortable, but remember, no great artist became great by staying comfortable.
  • Innovation: Often, the best ideas come from mistakes. Think about Post-its: Spencer Silver was trying to create a super strong adhesive at 3M, but he ended up creating a low-tack, reusable one instead. This 'mistake' led to the creation of the Post-it Note, one of the most popular office products in the world.

So, next time you make a mistake, don't beat yourself up. Instead, remind yourself that you're learning, growing, and maybe even on the verge of your next great idea. After all, learning from mistakes in creative endeavors is what propels us forward.

Analyze the mistake

So, you've made a mistake. Your paint colors have turned to mud, your story plot has a gaping hole, or your pottery vase looks more like a pancake. The first instinct might be to throw it all away and start afresh. But wait! Before you do that, take a moment to analyze the mistake. What exactly went wrong?

  1. Identify the issue: This requires you to detach yourself from the emotional part of the process. Look at your work objectively and pinpoint what exactly didn't meet your expectations. Was it the color choice, the character development, or the shape of the vase?
  2. Understand the root cause: After identifying the issue, try to understand why it happened. Did you rush through the process, miss an important step, or use poor quality materials? This step might take some reflection and honesty, but it's crucial for learning from mistakes in creative endeavors.
  3. Think about how to avoid it next time: Now that you've identified the issue and understood the cause, think about what you could do differently next time. Maybe you need to slow down, follow a checklist, or invest in better quality supplies. Whatever it is, make a mental note of it, or better yet, write it down.

By analyzing the mistake, you transform it from a setback into a constructive learning experience. Remember, the goal isn't to be perfect; it's to be better than you were yesterday. And that's a goal worth striving for in all creative endeavors.

Document your findings

Think of this step as playing detective with your own work. It's time to put on your detective hat and jot down your observations and findings. Writing down what you've learned from your mistake is a proven way to internalize the lesson and prevent making the same mistake again.

  1. Log the mistake: Write down what the mistake was and how it happened. This could be in a notebook, a digital note, or even a sticky note on your workspace wall—anywhere you can easily see it. This serves as a reminder of what went wrong and can help guide your future creative endeavors.
  2. Record the cause: Along with the mistake, make a note of the root cause that you identified during the analysis. This helps you understand your creative process better and pinpoints areas where you can improve.
  3. Note down the solution: Finally, write down how you plan to avoid making the same mistake in the future. This could be a new approach, a different technique, or even a change in your creative routine. It's your personal roadmap for learning from mistakes in creative endeavors.

Documenting your findings might seem like an extra step, but trust me, it's an invaluable tool in your creative journey. It encourages you to learn from your mistakes rather than shy away from them. Remember, every mistake is a step forward if you choose to learn from it.

Create a correction plan

Once you've documented your mistake and its cause, the next step is to create a plan to correct it. This is your action plan, your blueprint for learning from mistakes in creative endeavors.

  1. Outline the change: First up, define what needs to change to avoid repeating the same mistake. This could relate to your creative process, your approach to a specific task, or even your mindset.
  2. Set clear goals: With the change outlined, set clear and achievable goals. These should be specific, measurable, and time-bound to keep you on track. For instance, if your mistake was related to time management, a goal could be to complete a task within a set timeframe.
  3. Plan your actions: Now, detail the specific actions you'll take to achieve your goals. This might be practicing a new technique, setting aside dedicated time for brainstorming, or even seeking feedback from others.

Creating a correction plan is like drawing a map to a treasure chest. The chest is your improved creative outcome, and the map is the series of steps you'll take to get there. Remember—learning from mistakes isn't just about recognizing what went wrong, but planning how to do it right the next time.

Implement the plan

Now that you've got a plan, it's time to put it into action. This is where the rubber meets the road in learning from mistakes in creative endeavors. It's about making your plan a living, breathing part of your creative process.

  1. Take the first step: Start by taking the first action on your plan. It doesn't matter how small it might seem, the important thing is to get moving. Remember, you can't steer a parked car!
  2. Stay consistent: Consistency is key in implementing your plan. Try to keep up with your outlined actions regularly. Think of it as a workout routine for your creativity. You wouldn't expect to see results from hitting the gym once, would you?
  3. Adjust as needed: As you're putting your plan into action, you might find some steps aren't working as expected. And that’s okay! It's not about perfection, it's about progress. So don't be afraid to adjust your plan as you go along.

Implementing your plan is an active commitment to learning from your past mistakes. It's like turning the page on an old chapter and starting a fresh, new one. So, ready to dive in and make that change?

Review the outcome

Once you've implemented your plan, it's time to take a step back and review the outcome. This is a crucial stage in learning from mistakes in creative endeavors, and it's all about understanding what worked and what didn't.

  1. Compare results: Look at the before and after. How have things changed? Did your plan bring about the desired changes you were hoping for, or were there unexpected outcomes? This isn't about passing judgement on your performance, it's about gathering data.
  2. Reflect on your feelings: Creative endeavors often trigger strong emotions. How do you feel about the outcomes? Surprised, pleased, disappointed, or a mix of all? Remember, all feelings are valid and can reveal valuable insights.
  3. Analyze the process: Review the steps you took. Were they effective? Did you face any hurdles in implementation? Reflecting on the process can help you identify what to replicate in the future and what to avoid.

Reviewing the outcome is like a mirror reflecting your efforts. It’s an opportunity to see what's working and what's not in your creative journey. So take a deep breath, and let's take a look in that mirror together, shall we?

Incorporate feedback

Feedback is like the secret ingredient in the recipe of creativity. It can add another layer of depth to your creative endeavors and speed up your learning process from mistakes.

  1. Seek out feedback: Don’t wait for feedback to find you; go out and seek it. Whether it's from a mentor, a peer, or even an online community, getting another perspective can help you see things you might have missed.
  2. Listen with an open mind: When you receive feedback, try to listen without defending your work. Remember, the goal here is not to prove you're right, but to learn and grow from your mistakes.
  3. Take what’s useful: Not all feedback will resonate with you, and that's okay. Take what feels useful and relevant, and leave the rest. You’re the captain of your creative ship, after all.

Remember, feedback isn't about criticism; it's about growth. It’s like a friend who tells you what you need to hear, not just what you want to hear. So, let's embrace feedback and continue our journey of learning from mistakes in creative endeavors.

Cultivate resilience

When it comes to learning from mistakes in creative endeavors, resilience is your superpower. It's like a trampoline: the harder you fall, the higher you bounce back. But how can you develop this resilience? Let's explore.

  1. Embrace failure: See each failure not as a roadblock but as a stepping stone. Each mistake is an opportunity for growth, a chance to learn something new.
  2. Stay positive: A positive mindset can make a world of difference when dealing with setbacks. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither is your creative masterpiece.
  3. Practice self-care: Don't forget to take care of yourself physically and mentally. A well-rested mind and body can help you stay resilient in the face of challenges.

Resilience is a muscle that you build over time. It's not about never falling, but getting up every time you do. It's about dusting yourself off, learning from your mistakes, and moving forward in your creative journey with determination and grace.

Practice patience

The saying "good things come to those who wait" has been around for a reason. Patience is a crucial part of learning from mistakes in creative endeavors, and it's something that can be honed over time. Let's examine some ways you can practice patience during your creative journey.

  1. Understand your process: Everyone works at their own pace, and that's okay. Your creative process is unique to you, so don't rush it. Embrace the journey and let your ideas unfold naturally.
  2. Take breaks: Taking regular breaks can help prevent burnout and keep your creative juices flowing. Use this time to stretch, get some fresh air, or simply relax and recharge.
  3. Set realistic expectations: Setting unachievable goals can lead to frustration and impatience. Keep your goals challenging, but achievable, and celebrate small victories along the way.

Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither will your masterpiece be. Learning from mistakes in creative endeavors takes time and patience, but rest assured, it's a journey well worth the wait.

Stay Curious and Open-Minded

Curiosity might have gotten the cat into a bit of trouble, but for creatives, it's an absolute game-changer. Remaining open-minded and curious is a fundamental aspect of learning from mistakes in creative endeavors. Here are some practical ways to nourish your curiosity and maintain an open mind in your creative pursuits:

  1. Question everything: An essential part of staying curious is to always ask questions - why, how, what if? This inquisitive mindset can lead to new ideas, perspectives, and solutions.
  2. Seek diverse inspiration: Drawing inspiration from different cultures, disciplines, or even eras can feed your curiosity and broaden your creative horizons.
  3. Challenge your assumptions: Keep an open mind by challenging your own beliefs and assumptions. In the creative world, there's always more than one way to approach a problem.

As Thomas Edison once said, "I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious." By nurturing your curiosity and maintaining an open mind, you'll find that learning from mistakes in creative endeavors becomes not only a process of growth, but a fascinating journey of discovery.

If you want to further embrace the concept of learning from mistakes and apply it to your creative journey, check out the workshop 'Owning Your Mistakes As A Filmmaker' by Bertie Gilbert. Although it's focused on filmmaking, the lessons shared in this workshop are applicable to all creatives who want to turn their mistakes into valuable learning experiences and grow in their craft.