Fear is #1 on Creativity's black list.

  I've mentioned in other posts how some days I just don't know if I can do this.  When I say I'm afraid or I think I'm crazy it is not just because I'm afraid of adding something to an already hectic life.  It is also because I have that mean little person in the back of mind sitting there on her barstool sipping some snooty beverage telling me that I'm not good enough and never will be.  I want to tell that little person to shove it, but sometimes I let them get the best of me.  Today as I was browsing through the Etsy handbook I found a really great article, Fearless Creativity.

Looks like my frightened self.
 Image from:

“The enemy of creativity is fear.  Creativity has other opponents, but fear is definitely at the top of creativity’s sh*t list. So be a warrior, and know your enemy.”

The concept of fear being the arch nemesis of creativity never occurred to me, but now thinking about it, it seems so obvious.  Why am I afraid of going through with this, with starting Worthen’s Merc.?  Because I’m afraid my stuff will suck and nobody will buy it.  But, when I ask myself “what is the worst that could happen?”  Maybe no one will buy my stuff – then I’ve got a whole bunch of stuff to give as gifts.  Maybe someone does buy something but gets it and says its crap – I tell them to ship it back and I refund their money.  Would I be sad?  Sure, but nobody died, I can try again.  Very worst case scenario I can think of is that the two scenarios above happen and I just decide that I’m not Etsy material.  Sad, but I can still create for myself, just because it makes me happy.

The article goes on to describe the forms our fear can take and how they sabotage our endeavors if we allow it:

  Snobbery – if your inner snob is constantly turning their nose up at your work as you just begin, shut it in the closet.  Later when you critique your work it is okay to let them out but as you just start brainstorming and playing with ideas is not the time to have them around. 
The Taskmaster – the stick in the mud, the uptight frazzled pest in your head that gets her knickers in a twist when you don’t follow a daily routine and your to-do list.  When you get a creative bubble flitting through your mind she wants you to put it in a jar until the dishes are done and the laundry folded.  As long as there isn’t anything critical (i.e. picking the kids up from school) you have to do, give yourself an hour to entertain that little bubble an
d see if you can coax it into something bigger.  Or at least have fun popping it.

 Apathy – the Negative Nancy sitting on the couch in the dark recesses of your mind moaning “why even try, I’m not as good as so-and-so, and I’m just not that creative.”  Tell her to pop a Prozac and get that curious little kid mentality out to counteract the dangerous ideas Nancy spawns.  Danielle from Etsy says:

Let’s say there may be no point, you may not ever be as good as blank, and maybe you are not “creative” (not true), and what if you did it anyway. Aren’t you curious to see what might happen? What if you sat down and made yourself sketch right now. Don’t you want to see what you might come up with? Not everything you create needs to be shared or consumed; sometimes we can create just to give form to our own weird inner beasts!”
Danielle also offers some suggestions to conquer your fear of creating:
Love this book.  Buy it here

Teach.  Teaching something you enjoy to a beginner can be inspiring because not knowing the methods and material that you do they may be a little more open minded.  They haven’t created limits in their heads that you may have (unintentionally of course).  Just remember that you don’t know everything.  The day you think you know it all is the day you stop growing.

Practice; make yourself do at least one creative thing every day to keep the creative bubbles coming.
Study.  Find books out there by authors like Keri Smith that are full of little creative projects that can open your mind and fuel your curiosity.

And, my favorite – Go big or go home, even with failing.  I can’t phrase it better than Danielle did so I’m just going to quote her directly:

“The worst part of failing is that moment of shock — things were supposed to go a certain way and they didn’t. That moment of the unknown is what’s so frightening. Picking up the pieces is the easy part. We know where they landed, now all there is to do is clean up this mess and move on.  Keep that in mind as you create. Why fail a little? Make a splash, if you fail, you’ll have to get out the mop either way, right?”

image from TV play videos

So, with that in mind I’m going to do as Ross from Friends does, give myself a little shake and an odd squeak/grunt and move on with my creative process and planning for Worthen’s.  Not to say that my fears are completely conquered, but I definitely feel more empowered now that I have identified the fear and what it does to me.  Thanks Danielle.

***For any man out there reading this I apologize for the female-centric analogies feel free to insert something more masculine as you read it***


Popular Posts