Being creative is hard.  Not only is it hard work to “create” our work, but it’s hard work to overcome our fears about being creative.  I know I have fears, some are in the past, but some still stay with me.  The key is learning how to overcome our creative fears so that we can continue to create.

The first step in overcoming fear is to take stock of what they are.  Are you afraid of sharing yourself?  Are you concerned you might not be any good or that people won’t like your work?  Some of these fears can be paralyzing and stop you from creating.  Or you might create, but you never share your work because of these fears.  So we need to figure out how to stay creative while addressing and conquering our fears.

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I Feel So Exposed

Everything we create is an extension of ourselves.  Whether it’s a painting, a song, or a story, you left a part of yourself in it.  Maybe it’s a character you love, a story from your life or a song about a lost love, our inner self is intricately woven into the fabric of our art.  Sharing it means you’re exposing that part of you. That messy side with real emotions and real problems.  And it means that people are going to see it or hear it or read it.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Our inner self is intricately woven into the fabric of our art” quote=”our inner self is intricately woven into the fabric of our art”]

I don’t know about you, but this was my biggest fear.  I tend to be a private person, I don’t share a lot of what’s going on with me.  Back in 2002, I quit smoking, it was six months before anyone noticed because I never talked about.  That’s how private I was.  Imagine how I felt when Facebook came along?  But I credit Facebook and my husband with helping me to be more comfortable in sharing myself.

My husband shares.  He talks to almost anyone about anything.  I’ve never been like that.  In my first marriage, there were a lot of things that I never talked about with my then husband.  Mainly because there was no point.  And I stayed that way for many years.  But when I met Chris and he was so open about everything, I started sharing everything with him.  That was the first step, but I still wasn’t comfortable sharing with others.  Then along came Facebook, with everyone sharing their pictures and vacations.  So much sharing, it made me antsy at first, but then, slowly, I started to do it too.  I think that both of these things were critical steps in my path to sharing my work.

Eventually, I started a blog, but I was still being private about it.  Except for my husband, no one else, that I personally knew, was aware that I had a blog. Instead, I created “blogging” friendships.  I blogged for 3 years before I finally had the courage to share with my family which I wrote about in This is My Ultimate Fear.  I was 54 years old.

What If People Don’t Like Me?

See that question?  That’s the problem.  It’s not that people will not like me.  It’s possible that they won’t like my work.  The real question is probably….what if I’m not any good?  But instead, we make it personal (because after all, I am a “part” of what I create….so they must not like me!)   This is hard for any of us to get over because we do take it personally.  When I was in school I used to hate having my papers critiqued.  If there was feedback of any kind, I took it so personally.  How ridiculous to get upset over being told I had a run on sentence?  By the time I was done with school, I was pre-editing (editing while still writing) my work so much that I never finished anything.  I actually stopped writing for almost twenty years.

Then I found Morning Pages in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.  It changed my life.  I know, it sounds dramatic, but it’s true.  By writing three pages of whatever every single morning, it not only got me into a habit of writing, but it taught me to stop pre-editing.  It gave me permission to write crap.  How freeing. You can’t go back and change things, you can’t edit it you just have to keep writing.  You write whatever comes to your mind until those three pages are filled.

I may have gone from one extreme (pre-editing) to another extreme (no editing) but after awhile, I was able to find the middle.  Writing and then editing afterward.  In doing so, I learned that it’s about the work, it’s not about me.  Of course, for years, I was still only sharing my work with strangers, but that was so helpful.  I was getting feedback from people I didn’t really know, but who were trying to help me and I was able to step back from my work and not take it personally. Considering that we often are more critical of our work than others are, it’s really important to get that outside feedback.  Maybe the Morning Pages helped or maybe it was getting older that helped.  There is nothing quite so motivating as realizing you have more years behind you than ahead of you!

There is something else I learned that helped. I can’t be all things to all people.  If you don’t like my work, it’s probably because the work isn’t meant for you.  (There’s the slight chance that it’s because it sucks, but more than likely it’s because you just don’t want to read what I’ve written.)  I don’t read every blog out there.  I’m not big on food blogs I might find a recipe that I like, but poke my eyes out if all I do is read recipes all day.  Who can do that?  I’ll tell you who, my husband.  He’s a chef and that is the blog he wants to read.  Good.  It’s the niche for him, but not for me.  So I recognize that I might not be your niche and that’s ok.

Keep that in mind.  If someone is giving you valid feedback on sentence structure, grammar or the way you are framing your thoughts:  Stop and listen.  But if their feedback is more along the lines of what they like and what they don’t like, then it’s probably that you are not their niche.  Let it go.  Yes, I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s something that you should practice.

Keep Trying.  Keep Practicing

The first time I created a blog was in 2011.  I deleted it after a couple of months.  Even though no one was reading it because no one knew about it, I was still afraid that someone would read it.  I panicked one day and deleted the whole thing and canceled the domain.  Two years later, I went back to try again.  That’s the blog you’re reading right now.  At first, I was still a little uncomfortable with posting what I wrote, so I started doing something that I keep up even now.  I set all my posts to publish at 4 am in the morning.  I’m not awake, I’m not thinking about them.  They publish without me.  Even though it seems odd, it took a lot of the pressure off of me to hit the publish button (what if I still have to adjust it some more?)  Now all I’m doing is hitting schedule and I know I have time to edit it if I need to.

Do you ever get panicked when you’re getting ready to hit publish on a post?  What works for you?