I just received an email from an appreciative student. She’d had a Tarot reading at a party over the weekend where they’d talked about fear. And then BOOM she’d read my post about 10 Simple Ways To Start The Thing You’ve Struggled To Start. With facing the fear as the number one way. The advice I give in that piece is to accept the fear. She was committed to doing just that, but she was very clear that she was very unclear about what the fear was.
This is for those of you stymied by fear but confused by it as well.
It’s not unusual because we don’t want to look at fear. Fear is scary. That’s its main quality. So unless it’s something that we’re confronted with, we avoid looking at it. So it’s hard to name, to know.
But for creatives there are other fears. Vague fears. Fears that it’s hard to name. This is partly because being an artist isn’t valued in America. So there is little or no discussion of what the issues or problems might be. Sorry to bring up the word artist. You may not even connect with that word. We can substitute creative. Or writer. Or fill in the blank of your areas of hyphenation. Unless you are a super star. Being a super star is valued in America. And the problems and fears of superstardom are well known. But in my experience with super stars there are still all the fears of being an artist.
So ok. You are ready to face your fears. Two options. One. Decide it doesn’t matter. That you are going to move forward with your projects anyway. That courage is just knowing you have fear and moving forward through it.
Or. It’s possible that the fear is keeping you from even knowing what projects to move forward with. In that case you are going to have to try option two. Try to understand the fear. It’s possible that the fear is so loud and buzzy in your mind’s ear that you cannot hear the still small voice. And it’s possible that if you name the fear you can finally make work and that work will help you face and dismantle it.
Start by doing an inventory of what you ‘might’ be afraid of. It might be success. Or failure. Or both. That’s a double headed demon. Because then you really can’t win. If you are only afraid of success you can inch forward with small incremental wins, so that big success is something you will be ready for. Most likely that’s how it will happen anyway. The very nature of the 10k hours and the 10 year overnight success is designed to ready you for success.
But maybe you are afraid that in success some of your personal relationships will unravel. That the people around you aren’t prepared to hear you give an acceptance speech. That may be your projection. You can try proceeding. And gently helping them change by your own evolution. Self love and acceptance as an instruction manual for those around you. You may be encouraging that fear as a protection for yourself. So you don’t have to move forward. You may be in a destructive relationship. You may have to choose. But you may not have to choose right now.
I’m not good enough. Huge fear. It’s likely you aren’t good enough yet. That’s where the work comes in. You get better as you go. Hard work. Persistent work. That’s what it takes. The difference between creatives who don’t end up with careers and creatives that do is persistent work. Do the work anyway. Whether you feel like it or not. Whether it’s the right project or not. Whether it’s convenient or not. Do the work. Small increments of consistent work.
I don’t really have anything to say. You do. If this is your fear start small. Say something about your day. Say something about right now. Say something about last night. Say what is right in front of you. Name 10 things. Write a story about that. Write a one page sketch. Write three minutes of stand up. Make two jokes funnier. If you really didn’t have anything to say you wouldn’t feel like there was something you had to say. Which you do. Maybe you ae afraid of the things you have to say. Maybe they are things you don’t want to admit. or things that might hurt other people. Maybe they don’t go with your self image. Maybe they are snarky and you think o yourself as nice. Or vice versa. Maybe you need to couch what you want to say in fiction is fo. or maybe you just need to grow a pair.
What if I cannot make money at it? Well, economic insecurity isn’t the exclusive property of creatives. Especially now. And you are definitely not going to make money at it if you don’t do it. And even of you donlt make money at this part you might make money later. And even if you never make money at it, what about the way it feels to not be doing the thing you dream about doing. If you are going to not make money at it either way, wouldn’t you rather be doing it and living in love and creativity and action and not making money than not making money and frustrated?
Becoming a different person. This is a huge underlying fear. Doing the work does change you. That’s the thrill of being creative. Create comes from a word meaning to grow. True creative work does change you. Well most things you do change you. Bt creative work tends to amplify the change process. Intensifies it. Be willing to be changed. Life isn’t worth worth living without that willingness.
What if it’s the wrong project? It may very well be the wrong project. But that will become clear later. And sometimes it takes doing the wrong project to get to the right project. Creativity is not linear. And a lot of fears around creativity have to do with the expectation that it is. Building a career as a creative is not like banking. There is not one clear obvious path. You donlt climb a ladder. You swim in the sea. You dance the dance. Let go of the expectation that you should check off the boxes and do the obvious stuff.
And if none of this has helped enough remember the acronym some people use for fear is:
I can help you more specifically in a one on one session or in a workshop. I work in person and on Skype/phone. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free 10 minute assessment to see if we are a good fit.