How to Deal with Creative Fear

Happy Monday lovely readers! Those of you who are students are probably done with finals by now and today marks the beginning of summer and whatever changes it brings.

I’ve experienced an unusual amount of fear this weekend. I’m a little nervous because today I end my glorious month-long break between jobs comes to an end and I get to start my day job. I’m lucky enough to work with some really nice, fun people in a place where I feel comfortable and not pressured, and I’m actually really excited. I’ve had day jobs in the past that demanded so much of me that I had nothing left to put into my true work-my writing and art. I don’t think this job is like that, and I’m grateful I found it.

The First Day Jitters are one thing, but what about the fear and anxiety that surrounds our true work? Why should we be afraid of doing what we love? I call this Creative Fear, and it’s held me back from doing what I love before. Fear is natural and healthy because it’s only our mind trying to keep us safe and comfortable, but we can’t live in a bubble. We can’t be afraid to follow our dreams because we either freeze and accomplish nothing, or we create from a place of fear rather than passion, which means we won’t enjoy creating and we won’t do our best work.

Here’s a few tips for dealing with fear surrounding our dreams:

1-Figure out what you’re really afraid of– For example, I feel a vague sense of fear when I think about the next chapter of my life trying to launch my career. I made a list of different concerns and beliefs that troubled me, and I realized I’m not necessarily afraid of rejection, I’m afraid of never achieving the freedom of owning my career, and that I’ll lose my authenticity. The idea of competing with other creators makes me sick too, because I don’t want to step on anyone else and I don’t want them stepping on me.

2-Reframe those fears-What do you know to be true? Do those fears have a root in reality? Are you just looking at them in a negative light?

I have no way of knowing for sure that I’ll succeed, but I know in my heart that I’m not meant to be a worker bee forever. I’ve wanted to be an artist and a writer since I was old enough to hold a pen, and I always knew that was my destiny. I never worried that I’d fail. That fear only came about when I learned about the writing industry and after dozens of people rolling their eyes when I told them I wanted to be a writer and then asking about my backup plan.

Will I ever lose my authenticity? I admit, I’ve created specifically to please someone else, whether it’s a teacher or a family member or a potential publisher. It happens to every creator, but the important thing is to create the bulk of my work to please me. As long as I stay connected to my creativity and my passion, my work won’t go stale. If one mode of expression dries up, I’ll find another.

And competition? We’re experiencing a paradigm shift. Competition is rooted in a mindset of lack, the belief that there’s not enough to go around and that we all have to fight for our share. The truth is, we live in a world of abundance. More and more creators are creating their own careers instead of jumping through hoops set down by “the market”. Competition becomes cooperation.

3-Remember you passion- The thing about fear is that it disconnects us from the passion that drives us to create in the first place. Sometimes, the reframing exercise takes awhile to sink in and the fear doesn’t even out right away. So, lock yourself in a room and create something to make yourself happy. Paint something that no one will ever see. Write something no one will ever read. Experience the joy of creation while nothing else can touch you, and that joy will overtake the fear in no time. 

So gook luck with your week, friends!

Have you ever experienced creative fear? How do you handle it? Have fear ever held you back?

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Posted on May 2, 2011, in Authenticity, Creativity, Stress and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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