What stops you being more creative?
Whatever comes to mind for you, nearly all of the most common reasons we come up with are in some way rooted in fear.
If you created fearlessly, if you truly unleashed your creativity without any limitations or restraints, if you threw off every anchor and sailed with complete freedom, just imagine how incredibly creative you would be.
Isn’t it time to start making that a reality? Or at least get our ships in better shape and ready for a few new voyages?
With that in mind, here are 5 of the most common reasons we’re afraid of creating, and how to embrace them instead of running scared.
1. You’re afraid of creating an expectation you can’t sustain.
All the time you’re stumbling along creating erratically, you never get into any creative flow, or reach any kind of consistency. The upside is you don’t create any expectation – either from yourself or from others – so there’s no pressure to be creative. If you stopped creating altogether tomorrow you think no-one would really notice because you’re not creating much anyway.
If you created consistently though, work that you’re proud of and that touches people’s lives, there’d be an expectation to repeat it, over and over again. You’re scared you won’t be able to live up to what people want and demand, so the easy option is to not let yourself reach that level in the first place.
To overcome this common fear, it helps to focus on all the ways your art inspires others in ways that no other art in the world can. There’s only one you, and there are people that need your art, your message, your voice to brighten their lives, to inspire them in their own art. You have a duty to them. Creating isn’t selfish, as we often believe. It’s selfish NOT to create, to deny people the opportunity to be moved by your work. I know you’re not a selfish person, so embrace this fear and create your heart out.
2. You’re afraid that creating without a struggle will make your work dull.
There’s a belief held by some that the best art comes from suffering and unhappiness, and that a happy artist is not an interesting artist. If you believe this too it means you’ll avoid being too creative, avoid letting yourself creating as freely as you know you can, in case you become too happy and your work suffers, loses an edge, becomes uninteresting. It might also mean you sabotage other areas of your life, so you don’t become too content and the stimulating vitality of your artwork becomes dulled!
Creating nothing at all is far worse than creating work that you fear is too uplifting or is not from a tortured enough soul. We need to create, whatever else is going on in our lives. Not just through the difficult times. We need that outlet, those channels through which we can express ourselves, and better understand ourselves, whatever emotions we’re going through. Eating, sleeping, breathing, creating. Those are the absolute essentials we need in our lives to survive.
Just because you’re content in your life it doesn’t mean you can’t create art that’s stimulating, engaging and interesting. You’re art is the story of you, and all of us have had ups and downs, sorrows and joys we can draw from. It’s our diversity of experiences that enrich our work and make it interesting. Create what you need to create. As long as you create what’s real for you, and what matters to you, it will be worthwhile. When you create with this level of authenticity, people will always be moved.
3. You’re afraid of being cast aside or resented by friend and peers.
Fear of failure is one thing, but often it’s success – in many different forms – we actually fear more. What if we consistently and freely created art that we’re incredibly proud of? What if we finally reach those new levels of creativity we’ve never known before but always secretly believed we were capable of?
One fear is that others around us will look at how amazing our work is – and how content we are in creating it – and become jealous and resentful. They’ll question how and why you’re able to create this freely, whilst they still sabotage themselves and endlessly struggle. They’ll criticise, be scornful, and maybe reject you, all driven by their envy.
How others create, and what they think of how YOU create, is their business. If we concerned ourselves with every possible bad thing others might think of us, we’d never get out of bed. Again, we must create, it’s an essential daily need, not a luxury optional extra. The bonus when you’re creating near your best is that you feel better, happier and more alive, which naturally rubs off on those around you, makes you a more positive person to be around. Plus your work will always be embraced by people who genuinely enjoy your voice and all you do, and support you. Those people will find you, don’t concern yourself with others entangled in their own negative issues, who are ultimately unimportant to you.
4. You’re afraid of unleash something you can’t control.
Sometimes creative block isn’t the problem, it’s quite the opposite. Maybe you feel that you have so many potential ideas bubbling away, that the only way to keep them at bay – to stop them all rising up and completely drowning you – is to try to ignore them all, to deny they exist. To try to squeeze them all back into the bottle and force the cork back in!
This is at odds with what we naturally want to do as artists though – explore our ideas, and follow the trails of adventure they lead us on, to their natural conclusions. So we end up in dichotomy of being afraid of being overrun with wave upon waves of ideas we can’t control, yet frustrated at not creating anything, and denying that basic essential need.
The key to embracing this fear is to trust that your best ideas will always find you. And to recognise that to be at your best, you can only focus on one project at a time. I love salsa dancing, writing poems and cooking, but trying to multitask all three at once would end in complete disaster! Just try to picture it! When you pick just one idea at a time, and follow it through with all you have, you not only give each idea the attention it deserves, but you naturally find that the best ideas are persistent, and keep showing up time and time again in slightly different guises. You only need ever work on one project, and give it your best. That’s all. The others will wait, and the best will always find you again when you’re ready.
5. You’re afraid of finally being yourself.
Again this is a kind of fear that’s more about success than failure. If you did become highly creative – as creative as you’ve always known you can be – you might finally set free the true you, the one that’s been buried behind obligations and largely unimportant distractions for so long. For far too long.
What if you don’t actually like the real you? What if your friends don’t? What if by finally being yourself it unleashes the kind of happiness that maybe a little (or maybe a large) part of you doesn’t feel you deserve? All these come from the same stem – the fear of finally being yourself.
Running from, or embracing this fear comes down to the simple choice of whether you want to live your life as your true self, or by someone else’s script. Who does the book of your life belong to? Do you want to do and be only what others think you should do and be? Or do you want to explore and put to use all the talents and strengths you’ve been given? You being you is the only way to give others the chance to benefit from knowing you. Whether that’s through your artwork, or through knowing you personally, the starting point for any meaningful, sincere relationship has to be honesty. Do you want to be honest? Do you want to be all you can be, for yourself and for everyone whose life you touch? If you do (and I think you do) then with that decision the future suddenly becomes clear, and any fears just fade away. Be yourself, set free what’s smouldering within you. Create what you need to create.
Which if these five do you recognise in yourself?
What can you do in the next 48 hours to start to embrace and overcome these fears? Let us know how you get on.
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