When I’m battling fear in a creative project, my mind conjures images of all the artists I know. I see them in their studios, passionately writing, designing, composing, and creating for hours upon endless hours, not an emotional bump in the road. I know I’m not alone in these fake, self-torturing images. Many artists have them because we don’t share our creative fears, or fear-managing techniques as freely. It’s vulnerable for me to admit my creative fears, especially when I’m an expert in my field. I used to think that being an expert meant I’d have no more creative fear. No way.
Fear takes many forms. At times mine can be paralyzing. Other times as mild as “I can’t decide which color.” It will cloak itself as procrastination. Or distraction (“let me read just one more article, then I’ll find a better solution”). Or lethargy (“I just don’t have the energy to work on this tonight.”). Or self-beratement (“there’s not an original idea in my brain!”) It’s always there for me to handle, to some degree or another. If I’ve chosen to challenge myself creatively, fear will be present. If not, then I’m not challenging myself.
Masters in every walk of life, artistic and otherwise, are the ones who manage, rather than deny, fear and doubt. For me, managing my fear and doubt is part of the discipline of art. Sometimes I win brilliantly. Sometimes I lose. Learning to manage is an evolving process because at different times in my life different things trigger fear, different things are at stake.
In my latest book the section on fear was the most frightening for me to write. So frightening that I took it to a writer’s conference, where I knew I’d have the support I needed to finish it. It was frightening to write because in it I expose some of the ways my fear terrorizes me. In the same section, I give practical techniques I use to manage fear and doubt. My trusty work-arounds.
Below is a link to a section of it in PDF download. This is an excerpt from “Chapter 8: The Creative Journey” in The Beader’s Guide to Jewelry Design. I hope you’ll find it valuable. And let’s open up this conversation so we can all manage fear more easily.
What fears inhibit you creatively?
How do you manage them?