I’ve doubled down on my self-improvement game. My hunger for understanding has led me to perform research on a variety of topics, most notably, the interconnectedness of creativity and fear. How often have we abandoned our happiness to do something society or family has told us we should do instead? I know I have.

Creativity and fear, cartoon of frightened man

Creativity and Fear-isms

“You’ll never make a living as an artist!” – A classic, full of creative fear
“Are you sure you’re a good enough writer, honey?”
“I’ve seen a child paint something better than that!”

It seems like everyone wants to shit on our happiness. Sometimes these critics may even mean well. No one wants to see someone they love struggle as a “starving artist.” And maybe that’s why it feels a little bit easier to cast aside our dreams. Now, we’ve spent years doing the things that make us unhappy and missed all that time living our art. But it’s never too late!

Visit your local bookstore, like Joseph-Beth of Cincinnati. You’ll find shelves full of reference guides attempting to assist people or businesses with increasing their creative potential or overcoming their creative blocks. We could all stand to grow this potential. Artistic pursuits are most commonly associated with creativity and fear, but honing creative potential is vital within all industries. After all, scientific fact begins with a theory.

Overcoming Creativity and Fear: My Artist’s Way Challenge

For the next 13 weeks, I will include you on my journey as I work through The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. In preparation, I wanted to discuss what has led me to undertake this challenge.

The Artist’s Way has been one of the most highly recommended reference books for over two decades. The manual focuses on creative recovery, but people from all walks of life have recommended it, including bestselling author, Elizabeth Gilbert (Big Magic, Eat, Pray, Love).

Uber-productive entrepreneur and author, Tim Ferriss (The 4-Hour WorkweekTools of Titans), admits he hasn’t read the book, but he has utilized its accompanying journal. He describes “morning pages” this way:

“Morning pages don’t need to solve your problems. They simply need to get them out of your head, where they’ll otherwise bounce around all day like a bullet ricocheting inside your skull. Could bitching and moaning on paper for five minutes each morning change your life? As crazy as it might seem, I believe the answer is yes.”

Here’s the full link to his article: Tim Ferriss on Morning Pages

Why Now?

Years ago, I purchased The Artist’s Way but never attempted the program. At the time, I found the exercises hokey. The spiritual references also turned me off, which must be a common concern. Cameron even suggests in her introduction that you can change the references to whatever you prefer. She urges you not to let such bias keep you from moving forward with something that might otherwise benefit you.

I would agree. In general, spiritual references don’t bother me as much anymore. At this point in my life, I’m more concerned with finding the tools that work for me. I’m not above sifting through a variety of materials, hokey or not, to discover them.

I experience a lot of creativity and fear, especially when I think about making a living from my writing. I figure if something doesn’t work for me, though, I can still share it or discard it as a lesson learned. That’s the beauty of coming to understand your creative process.

I Want to Live My Art

A desire for clarity and understanding of my creative process has led me here. Writing has always been the love of my life and my pathway to creativity and coherent communication. Over the past few years, I have written blog posts (like this one about Writer’s Block), plus articles, poems, and story scenes. While I’ve had every intention of doing it more often, my inner demons usually rise and convince me that I’m shit, my writing is shit, and I’ll never be a successful author.

Basically, I’ve allowed myself to descend into hideous cases of writer’s block. I’ve put my desire to write on the back burner for years.

Creativity and Fear Excuses

“There’s not enough time for writing right now.”
“I’m too tired and exhausted to write today.”
“I will be an awesome writer…someday.” – Ah, someday. When is that exactly?

During that time, I never understood the real reason for my writer’s block. I knew I was a perfectionist, but I thought it just made me an anxious overthinker. It has often led to analysis paralysis in other areas of my life as well.

So was I avoiding writing simply because I didn’t have any ideas worth exploring? I thought so. I believed the muse had deserted me, and I hoped I could trick it into returning by discovering an original idea that set my mind ablaze.

I’ve learned how creativity and fear intersect. Through self-discovery, I’ve realized that fear of failure has been my writer’s block culprit all along. I’ve avoided the hard, ugly truth of potential failure for all these years by avoiding writing. If I don’t write, I don’t have to face the thought of not being good enough.

Because what happens if I do the work and still don’t attain (professional) success? Would that mean all those assholes from my former life were right? I am a loser. I’ll never be successful. Even Grandma called me “the pretty one,” not the smart one.

What would I even want to do if I couldn’t make a living as a writer? Sure, I could go back into accounting or whatever alternative career I chose. Most writers have other gigs until they achieve financial success anyway, right? I’m intelligent, so I could make something work. But at what expense to my happiness?

What Does it All Come Down To?

I’m only exacerbating my issues by not writing. I’m not getting the practice I need. I will continue to live in this perpetual catch 22 that has been my life. I’m forty, and someday still hasn’t come. It’s time to do the work and get out of my own way. It’s time to enjoy the journey instead of being purely focused on the result. I want to get out of the creativity and fear mindset and embrace my happy.

So stay tuned for some ad nauseam self-reflection as we dive into my childhood traumas! I’m not sure what going through this process will do for me, but I hope it will help me embrace my love of writing without holding onto the need for a specific kind of success. I also hope it will inspire you to take steps toward working on the things you need to heal to find your happiness.

My posts related to this challenge will be split in two parts. In part one, I will discuss the chapter’s main points and my initial thoughts. In part two, I will review the exercises and share a bit of my process with you.

If you would like to follow along with me, please do! Just grab a copy of the book The Artist’s Way, and respond to my upcoming posts. I would love the company. 😊


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s