Updated: Jan 13, 2019
Anyone who has ever created anything knows very well what kind of obstacles we face as soon as an idea comes knocking on our door. By the way, I do believe that ideas float above, below, and around us; they always appear easy to grab hold of, but they’re also easy to lose. All of the fears that come with creating can be devastating, and can rob us of playfulness and enjoyment in life. It basically comes down to the fear of love, and as contradictory as it is, we do experience it. All the time.
I have had my ups and downs since I graduated with a degree in Dramaturgy: Playwriting and Screenwriting in 1999, and in all of those years of living off of writing, I think that I became acquainted with many fears connected with creating. I taught screenwriting for many years, so I was constantly in contact with young people facing those fears as well.
In my humble opinion, there are several reasons why those fears arise and once we understand them, maybe they can be transformed into tips to avoid them. Those tips can be useful for professional writers and artists of any kind, but also for anyone who occasionally visits this field of unlimited possibilities.
The fear of free will or fear of having a choice
First of all- we are creating all the time, even when we are not aware of it, which is especially frightening. We create with our words, our thoughts, and our emotions. In dramaturgy, we call upon all three actions, and, if we are masters, we try to control them for our characters, so that they can play out the functions we give them. To become a real-life master can take some time and it all starts with awareness. So, who do we want to be? Our thoughts are not thinking us, we actually can control our emotions, we can see beauty in creation, it is possible not to be afraid of fear… We are the main character in our own movie. So first sit and write, or, even better, rewrite your story. How do you want it to be? How do you want it to end? And then choose actions to support this story. Whenever Shadow fights back, take it and use it, write about it.
Fear of opening and receiving/ Fear of emotions
Don’t think you are creating with your brain. If you think your mind is doing it – it’s not. And if you think it can do it, it cannot. If you think you are doing it alone, you are not.
Sometimes we take ourselves too seriously, sometimes not seriously enough because we think we are alone in creating. Indeed, we do have the free will to open ourselves.
Creation is a heart, mind and soul imagination and it happens in co-creation with God/the Universe actually, like anything else. It’s an ongoing love relationship in which both parts are always on the receiving end.
So relax – and don’t try to control it. It’s a flow that you can’t control, really. If it's not happening, what you can do, is sit and wait, don’t freak out. You can also sing or dance... whatever makes your heart glow. Just don’t try to push hard. If it is happening, allow the flow, be humble and welcome it. Empty your mind, nurture your emotions, because the flow is emotional (however it may appear) and if you are not ready, it can overwhelm you – it’s actually the fear of being overwhelmed by any emotion. If you are a writer, searching for the right emotion can be really difficult, as well as finding the one. When you find an emotion you want to recreate, dive deep and stay there. Explore it. It's painful, usually it is, deeper you go more painful it is, especially when you hit the truth, but that same feeling is going to tell you what to do next. Nurture yourself. Even when it becomes too much, try not run away or overthink, which is also running away. Breathe. And open up your heart. If you run away, come back. Meditation can help enormously. Love the Creator, love yourself, love your creation and love yourself as a creator. Whatever you are experiencing, and lot of times, writers are referring to their state of being as a pure suffering, think of it as a healing love in a different shape.
Facing the great unknown
Even if you are an experienced writer, painter, etc., every single piece of work is like entering a brand new territory and that can be a frightening experience. It’s also about discovering those new laws, sometimes even not so much about creating them… How does this new universe actually function? Embrace the story which is being presented to you and try to listen closely for the hidden underlying messages. What is it, exactly, that wants to be created through you? And what’s in it for you? If something you find important is in there: discovering yourself, fighting your fears, exploring your love, or if it’s fun, then do it – do it for yourself. It’s better not to think about recognition at first. If recognition does come at some point and you aren’t ready to be recognised by yourself, it can easily become a burden.
Fear of exhaustion, losing energy or losing the rhythm
At the same time, creating can sometimes feel like a marathon. You would not expect yourself to run well if you haven’t trained well. So if you want to write well, write every day.
Show up. Show up every day, which means take the proper time and space. It’s a ritual, it’s a secret journey and it won’t come unless you are open, ready and willing to receive it. Find a rhythm that suits you and then show up. Make a schedule and as Jordan Peterson would say, set the damn schedule up so that you have the day you want. Commit to it and if possible at least for some time do it at the same time of day. In my experience, five hours per day can be enough, and is usually the time frame in which you can be productive. It took me years to discover that working all day can be counterproductive. That’s very important, because if you feel bad after something you should feel good about, you won’t go there again willingly in the future. And because of that sometimes you can lose months. So, whatever suits you best, finding a rhythm is essential. Everything happens in a rhythm on this planet. The piece of art you are creating is basically a rhythmic code. Animals know that instinctively – they are deeply synced in with nature. Stay close to nature if you can. Surround yourself with the colour blue if you can. Rest and take good care of yourselves. You are the story, don’t ever forget that. Get better sleep at night. And try to find peace during the day. Reward yourself.
Fear of being a one-time miracle
Every single day is a new experience. If you did it once you can do it again.
Anyone who has ever experienced talent knows it’s difficult to detect where it comes from. You just feel it’s there. And then you have some obligation towards it. It’s not very polite to receive a cake from the Universe, and not eat it. You can say, “I never wanted cake in the first place.” I know. I’ve said that millions of times. But then again… when you do eat it – the taste is so magical, as if millions of stars were twinkling all at once and sending you dust from God. So, be grateful for what you have, for what you’ve done, for what you’ve received. There is much more there, where that came from. Believe. Seize the impulse – the God/Universe is talking to you. Trust.
Fear of loneliness and fear of being alone
Even though it really isn’t, creating can feel like loneliness in reality. Learn to live with it. Even more than other people, you need to be your own best friend. Don’t torture yourself with thoughts, words or actions. Also, it's essential to surround yourself with people who can feel and understand you. Because with you they will feel lonely as well sometimes.
Fear of judgment/ Fear of success
Use this trick: Say to yourself: “No one is going to read it anyway.” Then add… “before it’s ready.” Protect it from interference before it’s time. When the time comes, think twice about who are you going to have read it. And think long and hard about what you are going to use from what they tell you. Sense when they project themselves, and when they really have a feeling something is missing but they don’t know how to formulate it. Finish it, finish it first. Finish it and do the rewrite, make those changes. Do not rush the process. And don’t take it personally; listen to your inner feeling. At some point give it away – it can always be better, but for you to be better, you need feedback. It’s an essential part of creating. Let the audience co-create with you; give them the opportunity to find themselves in it.
Fear of not being good enough
What if recognition doesn’t come and you think you are on the wrong path?
Believe, but also play along the way.
We often forget to have fun and entertain ourselves first. Play with kids, or dogs or cats or with anyone who is ready to play – remember – there is nothing better than being a kid, and every artist is one deep down.
Don’t be ashamed of it either. Being a kid doesn’t mean being irresponsible in reality, it just means making your playground a reality, being responsible for it in the name of your talent.
You can always read out loud to someone you love. I often do it for my Cat – she enjoys it so profoundly that whenever she hears my voice, she runs and sits next to me to hear it. And for today it’s enough. I am enough – say it out loud. Just do it.
What fears have you experienced and what are your tips for overcoming them?