All my life, I’ve been a creative spirit. I spent my childhood drawing pictures, writing stories and poems, playing piano, and daydreaming. In high school, I added singing, acting, painting theatrical sets, and even dancing to that list. As a child, I never doubted myself. I never thought that maybe I wouldn’t have what it takes to be an artist and writer. I had no idea what creative block was, or that I’d ever been afraid to create. I just had fun making stuff.
If I’ve learned anything about creativity and creative block, it’s that the #1 creativity clogger is fear.
One of my most common fears is that I’ll never be able to out-do myself. Whenever I made something amazing, I worried that I would never top it, that I’d never have anything that amazing inside of me again. This was it. It didn’t get any better. I don’t remember ever feeling this way as a child, but from early college and on, this little nagging doubt always lurked in my mind.
As annoying and limiting as that fear is, whenever I managed to shut it up long enough to make something and let my creativity shine through uninhibited, I made some amazing stuff. I wouldn’t call any of it my most prized masterpiece, but I feel that I lot of what I’ve created is quite exceptional. Without fail, I’ve always been able to make something just as good, if not better, than what I’ve made in the past. I always have room for new stories and essays. I can always find the inspiration for more artwork. I always have new dreams and plans. If a roadblock appears, I can find a way around it once I stop worrying about it.
I think a lot of creative people have to deal with this fear, and it can actually be a powerful motivator if we think of it as a fun challenge rather than a glass ceiling. Instead of letting our fear limit us when it tells us we can’t do something, we can say “Oh yeah? Watch me!” and do it anyway.
My personality doesn’t do particularly well with the “Oh yeah?” part, but reminding myself that this fear has no basis in reality is my key to overcoming it. On the flip-side, it’s empowering to know that I’ll always be able to create something new and maybe even better. Does it even matter if it’s better? Maybe different and fresh is good enough. Maybe I can just explore a theme deeper and that would be sufficient for that time. I can go in a million different directions and never run out of things to create.
Also, a person who’s interested in as many things as I am will never run out of inspiration.
Creativity is limitless. As long we I nurture it, it will always be there. If we let it slip, it will be there when I decide to find it again. That’s the nature of creativity, and the fear is there to push us. Without a challenge, we’d have no reason to explore, branch out, or question.
Embrace the fear, trust creativity. They feed into each other, who knew? It took me years to figure this out, but hopefully knowing this will bring my more creativity in the years to come. I’ll need to overcome the new challenges. J