3 Ways to Diminish Your Creative Fear
Cue the Procrastination
Everything starts with an idea.
Many times… a big, shiny, bright, new idea.
I often become lost in vivid daydreams of a new idea, viewing it from different angles, seeing my expanded vision in Technicolor and imagining crowds of people admiring and loving my creation.
I’m so excited about my idea. I’m going to begin working on it tomorrow. Then tomorrow becomes today and… you know where this goes. Sometimes even taking those first steps feels like an insurmountable endeavor.
Out in the ether, your dream is safe. There are only imaginary obstacles that you can easily mentally evaporate. If you keep it secret, no one will shoot it down. If you don’t actually start, you won’t make mistakes.
Cue the procrastination that can kill your dream before you start.
Creative fear is a very common factor behind procrastination. Sometimes it feels like fear—an uncomfortable feeling in your gut, accompanied by shallow breathing and fearful thoughts that won’t leave you alone. But other times, the fear is hidden and affects you in subtle ways that you may not be aware of, but that keep you stuck. Boredom is sometimes a symptom of fear, as can be glossing over important aspects of the project.
Three ways to diminish your creative fear
Once you realize that fear is holding you back, you’ve already taken the first step. Most of our creative fear is imaginary. We’re afraid of what if… rather than something real. And since we’re so creative, our minds easily extrapolate from there.
The second step is to bring the fear out of hiding and into the light. If you can feel it in your body, put your hands on that part and talk to your fear like it’s a separate being, something not part of you. (if you don’t feel it in your body, just put your hands on your belly or your heart since that’s where it likely resides.) Imagine its color and shape. If you can, visualize pulling it out and putting it in a chair opposite you. Acknowledge your fear for trying to keep you safe. Tell your fear that you don’t need its protection while you work on this project. Tell your fear that you’ll be fine without it and picture it shrinking and fading. When you talk to your fear out loud, this exercise can be even more effective.
The third step is to take action. Pick a place to start and begin. Commit to working for just 10 minutes. At the end of that time, you can quit if you want to, but usually, by the end of that time I’m finally in the flow.
Give Yourself a Warm-Up Exercise
Another way to help yourself is to give yourself a warm-up exercise. We are always more creative when we’re in a happy frame of mind, so create a ritual to cultivate yours. There are lots of ways to do this, but some I enjoy are:
- Uplift my body with a simple, quick and easy exercise. For example, a set of squats, jumping jacks or a short walk.
- Uplift my spirits with some inspiring music. Or I might read a few love notes from people who have written to express their gratitude and admiration, or positive clippings regarding something I’ve created or written. By the way, whenever you receive any notes of appreciation, never throw them out, but file them in a special folder you can easily refer to.
- Warm up my skill set. For example, if I’m sitting down to write, I’ll start with writing a paragraph or two of anything that comes to mind. Whatever my eyes rest on becomes the subject and I let my curiosity run rampant. No judgment, only writing. When my three-minute writing time is up, I either file it away, minimize it to work on later, or trash it. When I’m sitting down with my water colors, I begin painting on cheap paper. That gives me license to make mistakes, which loosens me up. If I’m trying to come up with new ideas, I’ll pick another, less intimidating, subject and brainstorm ideas around that for a few minutes. Being silly with it helps.
‘Not feeling like it’ is never an excuse when you have the ability to take charge and help yourself ‘feel like it.’
If procrastination is an issue in your life, you can get help to turn it around by taking my my course on overcoming it – available this June.
Meanwhile, you may enjoy learning about the #1 Reason Why You’re NOT getting stuff done.