How To Fail For A Long Time

1. Guy Plan

“I will take in no new information, and ask for no help, and read no instructions, and when I succeed, I will know that it’s because my way is the best way and I can feel really good about myself.” -A guy, probably.

College Admission Season 2004:

I need some portfolio pieces to get into animation school.

Animation schools require illustration examples; you are expected to be able to draw, even if you are doing 3D animation.

Noah Wizard’s Solution: Throw myself into the work. I’ll learn this somehow.

Result: I am able to produce several drawing pieces that are better than expected, but each one feels totally random whether it succeeds or not. At the end of the day, I don’t feel like I know how to draw, so I go years without drawing after this point.

First Blog, 2007:

Having seen how great Steve Pavlina’s blog was able to teach me things, I decide to create a copycat site.

I’ll need articles and to interlink them like Steve Pavlina does!

I’ll put Google Ads!

This is going to work!

Noah Wizard’s Solution: Throw myself into the work. I’ll learn this somehow.

Result: The site is full of articles and I average about 30 page views per page. Not per day. Lifetime views. Site closes.

First YouTube Channel, 2008:

I’m going to use YouTube to talk about my ideas.

My blog failed, but video is a whole different medium.

I’ll surely be good at it.

Noah Wizard’s Solution: Throw myself into the work. I’ll learn this somehow.

Result: Videos 40 minutes long, unedited, not bound to a single useful subject. Channel discontinued.

Second Blog, 2013:

I have a topic now.

I’m going to be a game designer.

The topic isn’t just my thoughts and creative life.

The topic is how my thoughts and creative life are difficult as I try to figure out how to make video games.

Noah Wizard’s Solution: Throw myself into the work. I’ll learn this somehow.

Result: I produce 140 blogs in a row, without missing a day. When the blog shuts down, I am so burnt out that I am a danger to myself and must get a new therapist.

Learning Game Design, 2013:

I’m going to learn how to make games.

The games I want to make are new and different, so I will need to study many different kinds of games looking for the pieces I can make my game from.

Noah Wizard’s Solution: Throw myself into the work. I’ll learn this somehow.

Result: I manage to get into a program that will give me cheap and weird games as compensation for being part of psychology department experiments around the world. I play over 600 video games. I have a wide knowledge of game mechanics, and I cannot turn a single one of them into a playable game. It will be more than half a decade later that I produce even a small game.

Online Business, 2015:

NEW PLAN: I am luckily on Hay House’s publisher email list. CEO Reid Tracy has recently attended Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula seminars, and understands now how to launch an info business online. Proceeds to pass on this information to every prospective Hay House author, which at the time, includes me.

NEW PLAN PART 2: I have seen a product on Gumroad. I think digital products are somewhat interesting. I like that a person can self-publish their own book. It feels like it has potential. Luckily, Gumroad chooses to host a 10 Day Product Creation Challenge to everyone who had signed up for more information. It is the first time that I am around other people who have been trying to make online business work. We share information. I am pointed in the direction of so many different people I can learn from, but most importantly Naomi from IttyBiz.

NEW PLAN PART 3: Getting on Jeff Walker’s email list means I get his emails when he is an affiliate for Eben Pagan. When I get on Epan Pagan’s list, it eventually leads to me getting on Bill Baren’s list and Dean Jackson’s list. I am hearing the principles of business explained to me left and right, every time I open my inbox.

Result: I don’t end up making sales because the creation of an online business takes more components than I am capable of producing, but I know where I need to skill up. I am no longer guessing, and when I am unsure about what steps to take, I have leads to follow, I have places to go to see if someone knows the answer. 

I’m in motion. I no longer have to stand in one place, stubbornly trying to prove that I’m worthy, that I know what I’m doing from pure instinct.

Writing Workshop 2018, Hosted by Naomi from IttyBiz:

When I was in Gumroad’s Product Challenge, I was new and did not know much. By this stage, I was well versed in why my plans of the past were not working.

I am able to talk as a peer to so many different people who are building their own online business. I am not alone.

I realize that I am alone in so many other areas of my life.

I decide if there are groups for business, there must be groups for creatives that will help me as well.

Result: I no longer feel like a failed businessman, but rather someone who is bright but has a lot left to learn. It has been explained to me the level of difficulty of the type of business I am trying to create, but I now have an understanding of the tools I will need to master to succeed, and I have been recognized not as a layabout or a failure but as a “keener” who is on the path.

Art Group 2019, Hosted by DoggyZArt:

I manage to find another game designer who has been struggling with his artwork, same as me, and he is determined to practice drawing until he no longer, “feels like a third rate artist.”

I am surrounded by people who are trying to learn to draw.

Just like in business groups, there is an exchange of great teachers who have discovered the best practices for what we are trying to learn, and they can explain the groundwork to us so that we do not have to guess about which steps we should take.

Result: I can draw. If I take my time, I know exactly what to do to achieve the result I want. I still don’t draw very often because unlike people who are professional illustrators, I don’t enjoy drawing, so it is not likely to become a very rapid and strong skill, but I am no longer guessing about what I need to do.

Jumpcut YouTube Virality Training 2019:

There’s a reason my YouTube channel failed.

Even if my videos had been good enough for people to watch, they certainly were not good enough for strangers to take a chance on.

I was creating “feeding” content which might have helped someone who already knows who I am get to know me better.

But viral content is specifically designed to need no explanation for itself; it’s content that doesn’t need to apologize. It’s high enough concept that a person can explain it in a sentence, and they feel smart and cool for sharing it, not lame and tentative like when we try to get our friend into a TV show we know deep down they’re not gonna like as much as us.

Result: I hate how much work goes into making a stand-alone video, but I understand now what needs to happen in order for my channel to take off. When I make a video, I know whether it has the potential to be sharable or not.

Aaron Blaise Drawing Training 2020 and Beyond:

Aaron Blaise is a retired Disney animator, and when the pandemic hit, he made many of his courses $5.

All of a sudden I was learning not from someone who had some pet theory of how things should work, but I saw what a seasoned professional knew about drawing and drawing a lot.

From this point, I no longer fear the act of improving at drawing because I have a library that covers every problem I could encounter, and Aaron explains what I need to know quickly and succinctly.

Result: I am able to take my 2D drawings and render light and shadow in a way that brings the characters to life and makes them feel like 3D living beings. At least up to my own standards, that is.

GameDev.TV 2021 and Beyond:

I have been using the same, limited program to make games, since the year 2000.

I finally make the leap to learning Unity, a game engine that will let me make games in 3D, and will give me the freedom to create the kinds of games I want to make.

It is confusing. 

It is hard.

But the teachers at GameDev.TV manage to explain themselves well, and I can follow along and start to build up the experience I need to solve complex video game production problems myself.

Result: I make my first 3D Game. It is small, and simple, but I feel like a fledgling game designer. I am no longer so scared to tell people I am a game designer.

2. Pull Over And Ask For Directions.

When I started out, I had been socialized around guy culture which said if you don’t know something, you should be embarrassed about it, and hide away your shameful limitations, and hope that no one notices.

I now know to get help.

I stood rooted to the spot for years and years before I was lucky enough to start realizing the powerful leverage that would come from getting into groups and learning from instructors who understand the challenges I’m up against and the problems I’m trying to solve.

We moved across the country this year, and we packed up what we could in our car, so we took the money that would have gone toward a moving company and we instead bought new appliances and furniture out west.

My mother read every instruction booklet that came into the house.

Several times it was vitally important that she did so.

I must not stay rooted to the spot and assume that I know enough, or that I will come up with the right ideas on my own.

Ideas are out there.

Go get them.

The above post was an entry for Paul Scrivens’ 30 Day Prompt Challenge.

Prompt: I saw a man standing on some railroad tracks. I asked him what he was doing.
He said he was waiting.
Suddenly, I heard a train coming and I hold him he needed to get off the tracks, but he doesn’t move.
You’re the old man. Why are you on the tracks and what do you do next?