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What To Do When You Are Too Afraid To Create

 

“Resistance is a bully. Resistance has no strength of its own; its power derives entirely from our fear of it.” – Steven Pressfield

what to do when you are too afraid to create four simple steps to help you deal with creator's fear blog post catdepillar illustrator artist

As I sit in my pyjamas at four in the evening and contemplatively take a sip of tea, I begin to wonder why it feels so hard to start the creative process.

Creating is what I DO, so why am I not whipping out the paints, splattering them wildly across a large canvas and throwing my cat over it in an outbreak of artistic ecstasy?

Why has yet another day/ month/ year passed without me doing anything remotely associated with creating? Why have I not picked up a brush, a pen, a needle, a pair of scissors?

Why have I not been listening to my deep desire, my core need, my inner longing  – to create?

Oh right, because it’s fucking terrifying!

 [Cue procrastination, our trusted and toxic friend]

Whenever we fear a particular topic or action, procrastination turns up in one of its many, creative disguises. It is a direct response to our being confronted with [the idea of] work that we associate with worry, struggle, personal failure and anxiety.

But why do we procrastinate on something that we know we enjoy once we start doing it?

Every time I lovingly notice the quiet routine of mixing colours and layering them onto paper, I ask myself: Why is it so hard to start doing what makes me feel really happy?

It is hard, because

  • I have stopped doing it and I can’t overcome my resistance to start again
  • I secretly know that I cannot fail if I never give it a real try
  • I tell myself that I am not ready yet *research paralysis, anyone?
  • I put it off until the planets have aligned and the perfect conditions are miraculously manifested *and we know how often that happens
  • Victimising and disallowing myself brings relief from having to face my most important work

What makes it feel even harder and more painful, is the hidden and often underlying belief that

I am not good enough/deserving enough/gifted enough, thus, my work [as a reflection of what I believe about myself] can never be good enough, either.

When we find ourselves trapped in this circle of passiveness, procrastination, and resistance, we feel unhappy, bored, restless, and everything seems to be coated in a glaze of misery [with a matte finish].

Throw some guilt [for succumbing to your fear] into this cocktail and you have yourself a very effective, narcotic. *it knocks out even the most talented of us

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now.” – Goethe

The more a specific project/book/artwork means to you, the more fear and resistance you will feel and build up around it. It is easier to constantly allow ourselves to be distracted and give in to instant gratification, than enduring the pain of confronting our feelings of fear, unease, and unwilllingness to start.

However,

We are in constant pain. It is painful to face what we feel we need to do, and it is painful to procrastinate on it. Regardless of what we do, it is painful so we might as well choose the work that will afford us the most fulfilling benefits.

you cannot escape the pain but you can decide if it will be to your benefit or your detriment cat de pillar blog post what to do when you are too afraid to create

4 Simple Steps to Help You Deal With Creator’s Fear:

1) Accept That Fear Cannot Be Overcome 

Trying to overcome your fear would only add another point to your ever growing and overwhelming list of “things I need to do before I can start”. You need to learn to work with and around your fear; acknowledge its existance, and try to push through the pain and discomfort it brings you. *Give that reproachfully blinking cursor on your empty document the evil eye and don’t let it assert its dominance over you!

2) Make A Plan & Break It Down Into Manageable Chunks

First, decide what it is you want to focus on. Is it a novel, a painting, a chapter, a blog post – you have to have a clear idea of what your particular project will entail [consider its scope and boundaries]. This can be something you will work on over a longer period of time, or just a small-scale project. Then, break it into as many small parts as you can; the smaller, the better. After you have distinguished all the small steps that, if taken, will naturally result in the completion of the project, schedule them into your calendar. Give them an explicit time and date so that you know on Friday the 18th you will need to/wanted to work on your project at 2 PM.

3) Know Exactly What You Have To Do When You Start

This is probably one of the most effective ways to help you cope with the fear of starting, and any feelings of overwhelm. Nothing is more terrifying and a bigger waste of time than showing up for your date with the creative muses unprepared. Before you start [or even the day before], take the time to go over your list of doable steps and choose one specific task to work on during a specific time slot. Instead of writing “Blog” when you plan it into your calendar, choose exactly which post you will work on. Rather than writing “Drawing,” write “Picture of flying pigs with lipstick and booties.”

Be as specific as possible and take care that when you start – everything you need is where you need it.

4) Take It Slow & Start Small

Try to establish a daily habit of showing up for yourself and tackling one tiny step at a time, rather than going completely overboard with it in your first week. Build your endurance muscle over a period of time, and allow yourself to transition gradually. In the beginning it is important that you push through your resistance and practice the “starting” of your projects. Begin by doing only five minutes three times a day – or even only once a day – and slowly build it into bigger chunks of focused, productive time as you grow more and more comfortable, and sure of yourself.

Fun Fact: You will quickly notice how you want to do more than five minutes once you start[because our brain is childish that way], try not to give into this at first.

Working through fear and showing up for your most important personal projects requires dedicated and daily practice.

Every day the battle against your fears begins anew and you will have to make the conscious decision to take it on – I hope you feel a little more equipped for it now.

Tell me, what do you do to beat resistance and show up for your[creative]self?

What is the one thing you could do in five minutes to stop the cycle of procrastination, and kickstart your creative journey?

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The Good Enough Creative

A lot of us have internalised beliefs that keep us miserable + secretly thinking that our emotional suffering is a necessary [and even romantic] part of the creative process.

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  • Amber Rose Stahl

    Wonderful artical. ? Thank you for sharing your insights and I love your writing style ? Great tips too

    13/02/2016 at 9:10 PM Reply
  • Jennifer Hopper

    This is the article I have been looking for! It describes me very accurately. I am creative and I feel it inside of me just there waiting to be let out. I just never do it. I never begin. I buy things, I have an art room where I can go to create, be creative and just let it out but I never do. Maybe now I will be able to at least give it a shot and get started. Thanks.

    02/04/2016 at 5:05 AM Reply

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