© July 2010 by Fabienne Lopez
Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
As a beginner writer you may think that each time you get stuck in your creative process, there is something intrinsically wrong with you. That’s your fear speaking! At that moment, when Fear has grabbed your attention and you are all ears to what it is telling you, remember: Fear is the enemy of creativity. So what do you do to overcome that emotion?
Creativity and Fear
As a beginner writer (which is how I see myself most of the time and on bad days not even that, maybe as the apprentice of the apprentice of a beginner writer), I get stuck in my creative process a lot which means, fear is a constant presence. Fear generally presents itself in what I call the 3 steps fear scenario:
Each time I go through a dry spell I tell myself:”you are no good!”; “you can’t write”; “What you just wrote is crap! Besides who is going to read it anyway?” And the beating up goes on and on.
After I am satisfied that I have flogged myself thoroughly, I then move on into the “roots” of my supposed creative ineptitude: the fact that my parents never bought me the box of 120 watercolor pencils from Caran D’Ache I always yearned for. Joke apart, the feeling of being stuck in your creative process and the correspondent doubts surrounding your creative talent are very painful as they most often give way to feelings of unworthiness, incompetence.
I then proceed to “what if” part of the cycle. What if I took another writing class? What if I enrolled in a MFA program? What if I joined another writing support group? What if I subscribed to another literary magazine? What if I bought another idea generating software program or upgraded MindMapping? A better notepad to write down my ideas? Better pens, pencils, erasers, sharpeners? The purpose of the exercise being to assuage your fear by convincing yourself that just one more additional resource will “magically” unlock the keys to your creativity and you will be able to tap into your imagination at will.
After a couple of laps in that treadmill, I am completely exhausted and miserable, which allows me then to stop the process, let go of the fear and give in to Universe. By the way, did you notice how creative my fear scenario was?
Acceptance of the fear
In reality, none of the above tools will help overcoming the fear. The fear will be always present. Once you accept this fact, you can start learning how to deal with it. Once you understand that the most effective way to overcome the fear is to write, you can look for tricks that will help you get your fingers wrapped around the keyboard.
I believe only the act of writing is what helps you. The truth is there is no best time to write. There is only timed writing. Regular timed writing to keep you moving, past the fear. Something I just started on a regular basis and guess what? It works. Therefore I am putting this technique on my toolbox. I use timed writing two ways to stop the fear wheel:
1) As a warm-up and conscious streaming exercise. I set an alarm clock for 10 to 15 minutes and just write. Anything and every thing: what I had for dinner last night, the last fight I had with your mom, boyfriend, neighbor, the last pair of shoes I bought. It does not matter, I just throw words on the page until I feel am done. With my head cleared, I can then start writing.
2) If I feel that one of my posts feels stiff, stilted or false. I write down what is bothering me and do a timed-writing on that problem. I find a solution to the problem during these 10-15 minutes and then proceed with my work.
By incorporating this tip or other any other creativity starter of your choice, the fear will lessen over time (so I am told). I must confess that I nowhere near that stage. On the contrary, I am still struggling to accept that I am a creative person, that I have a need to express myself in that way. I am just discovery the tips, tricks and tools of the creative trade. I am just discovering what it means to be a creative person, what are the duties and responsibilities, the rewards and advantages of assuming that side of myself.
I do not know where this path is leading me but I can see the benefits of developing my creativity and the impact it has around me and myself.
That’s why I face my fears each time and sit down in front of my computer. Also as a true Aries, I will not let fear be the great silencer of my creativity!
How do you face your creativity fear? Share your story!
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Photos Credits: Flickr Creative Commons