3 relationships to fear in the creative process

A few weeks ago, a friend with whom I talk about all things creative asked, “What do you like to write about?” I had an easy answer for her — fear and creativity. At that moment I was certain that everything I was writing about was related to the creative process and how scary that was. Most of what I was thinking about was related to being afraid to put myself out there, feeling like whatever I was creating was not worth reading / seeing / experiencing, etc. I just kept thinking I wasn’t good enough and I shouldn’t even bother.

Once I said this out loud and had a chance to think on it for a few days, I realized something. While I may have been thinking about fear and creativity, I was actually experiencing fear and distraction.

For what feels like years, I have allowed distraction to sneak in at every possible turn. Between social media outlets like Facebook & Twitter, ridiculous amounts of content on Netflix (The West Wing, Mad Men, Breaking Bad!), and the seemingly infinite availability of information about what EVERYONE ELSE on the planet is doing right now at this very moment… well gosh, it’s enough to make your head spin. It’s also enough to make you lose hours, days, weeks of your life and have nothing to show for it. That’s kind of a huge bummer.

After having a few days to let that depressing thought sink in, something else hit me over the head. This is really about fear and desire. I thought about what I am afraid of — right now. Every single thing is wrapped up in what I really want. Every one. If it’s what I want and I know it, then why is it so scary?

I wish I had the answer.

This is all a process for me, and I can only outline what I’ve stumbled across so far. My relationship to fear has been evolving a lot recently, and I know it will continue to do so over time.

I leave you with a few ideas to ponder if you are experiencing the same sorts of relationships to fear:

Fear and creativity. Just make work, lots of it. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad, it’s all helping you learn more about your process and your art. I’m currently trying to practice this and it is not easy. I am choosing to listen to this voice: Do it anyway.

Fear and distraction. Turn off social media, turn off the tv. Set a timer. Find a creative space and go analog with a paper and pen, no wifi, and if it’s up your alley, listen to some classical music. Go somewhere unfamiliar and just be in the space. Break patterns, disrupt from within.

Fear and desire. If you really want it, go get it. And if you need to get there, draw a map in the form of small, actionable tasks. If you can’t think of any, contact me and I will make you a list!

I hope this gets you started on something you have been wanting to work on. It’s something I’m chipping away at every day and learning as I go. That’s why they call it a process.

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