Why Do Most Creatives Fail?

Personal thoughts on our limitations, and practical steps to increase our success potential

Osundolire Oladapo Ifelanwa
9 min readJul 17, 2022


Success is personal, but looking through others’ eyes, you never know what you’d see.

~ Mark Anaki

Photo by Lucas Gouvêa on Unsplash

I am an architect and a writer. For the past 20 years, I have experienced the highs and lows of this creative life, manipulating space and words. For context, I believe that we are all creatives, and this often jealously guarded term isn’t exclusive to pianists, painters and pantomimes in street corners. At a broad scale, we all create, especially when it comes to solving problems and ensuring our continuous survival.

However, the word creative(s) as used throughout this piece refer to those whose passions align with the creative arts, and/or whose livelihoods depend on it. Subsequently, I define success in these fields as attaining the highest expression of one’s art, with one’s work impacting on the widest possible audience reachable given one’s circumstances. My reference to failure or success throughout this conversation will be tethered to these two loci:

  1. Highest expression and;
  2. Widest reach.

Context in the bag, why do creatives fail?

In my 2-decade journey in the land of wild thoughts. I have had my fair share of failures. There are the hundred pet projects that never saw the light of day, and there are the thousand unfinished thought pieces that litter the hallways of my past. There are the many embryo books that are still just titles, and the stillborn ones that died mid-sentence on chapter whatever. Many kooky ideas I have invested significant resources (money and time) on that makes me wince when I check my expense register and see how much I have frittered away on ideas that at the time, seemed like the next best thing.

Of course it is not all doom and gloom, and it isn’t as if all these were failures. Many of these ideas have been beta tests that led me to greater achievements and for some of them their time just hasn’t come. On the flipside, there were the ideas that made it to actualization, indeed some of those ideas made me. Yet, my personal reflections here are on some of my many…



Osundolire Oladapo Ifelanwa

Architect. Writer. Aspiring Immortal