Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Creativity Killers: How to Fight Back

Secrets to Leading a Creative Life

Most people admit they would like to lead a more creative life, but for one reason or another they get stuck. The one thing they tell me that stops them most often is fear. I believe fear is the #1 killer of creativity. Let's deal with fear here, and learn some strategies on how to live with it.

 First of all, fear is not a bad thing. From the time we are small, we are taught not to run into traffic or stick our hands near a flame because it will hurt. It's ingrained in us to stay safe. That's a good thing. As we get older, we want to do things like ride a bicycle, or slide down the pole on a jungle gym. I know very few people who learned how to ride a bike without falling off at least once. How do we move from living carefully to taking risks? 

I know people who've broken their arms doing both these things! 

Ask yourself this: Do you believe the tumble off the bike is as good a lesson as finally achieving balance enough to ride? We fall, we get up, we try again, but all in all we're okay. (Wear a helmet!)

Once in a while there are a few who say, "If I don't try to ride, I won't ever get hurt." This falls short of the big lesson. Agreed, you won't get hurt--or even embarassed learning, but you'll also never know how the sun hits your eye as you're pumping over the crest of the hill on a hot summer morning, or feel the wind rush past your face while you're coming down the other side. You'll never know what it takes to fall down, skin both knees, and grit your teeth to try it again. 

Self preservation is a good fear. But being unable to logically know if our fear is valid, is not. That's an unreasonable fear, and the kind that keeps us from being creative souls. Our imagination is a wonderful thing, but it can create unreasonable fears if we're not careful. Start by acknowleging it is fear that may be keeping you from your dream of living a creative life. Come to terms with it. Then ask: How do I tame that beast? What am I afraid of?

There are as many ways to go about this as there are people on our planet. What works for one may not for another, but I will give you two of the best I know. 

The first is to do something that you consider automatic. For example, a good friend of mine does her dishes. I fold laundry. Try walking to the store. Do something with a beginning and an end. While you are going through the motions, your mind is free to think, and it seems to work better than just sitting still and trying to figure out the fear issue. It's definitely like working on a problem, but the root of it lies somewhere within you. You just need to allow it to surface. Surprisingly, it often does.

Option #2: Meet your fear halfway. If you're afraid to ride a motorcycle, start with a moped. Afraid to jump off a rocky cliff? How about jumping from 15' instead of 50'? Or even 5? Be brave! Jump as many times as it takes from there, then move up the cliff a little. Courage can be cultivated!

Creativity feeds my soul. It's better than any thing, drug or person to make me feel alive! The light glows from my inside out, and I'm addicted to the feeling it gives me. The ideas that are born from it bring immense joy! When I feel fear, and we all do, I work to manage it before it manages me. I know it will always be somewhere nearby, but it doesn't have to go to bed with me. 

Bravery is the struggle against it, 
and courage is my tool. 

The trade off is a fullfilling, loving, 
and creative life. 

I want it. Do you?
Create it with me.


  1. I guess the fear that most paralyzes me is trying something to make something that is in my head, but I don't know how to do. For example, I want to make landscape quilts without fusing from batiks. I have made little ones, but I want to make ones over 36 X 42. I looked up other quilts, bought a few books, know what I like the results to be, but cannot move to make one. I have 2 stalled for over 2 years in pieces because I don't know how to sew it.
    I used to fear making because of saleability. I gave that up because I don't sell my work, I give it away. I can't fight people not wanting to spend money on art (especially in Buffalo, NY). So, I buy what I can afford, make it and give it away. Lots of comfort quilts made, all different ideas, given and appreciated.
    I don't fear having ideas- plenty of those. I fear just getting stuck against brick walls and feeling helpless.

  2. Great post, Julie. Fear holds us back from so many things. Changing our way of thinking to more positive thoughts is a huge key. When my daughter tries to tell me she "can't" do something, I always tell her she's right. As long as she holds on to that word, "can't," she simply won't. When I find myself thinking that way, I have to give myself a time out to reflect and turn my "can't" into a "will." It make take several fails to achieve my goal, but it feels so good to get there.

  3. Interesting post. You sound so confident but I had to read twice... What feeds my soul is connections with other people. These relationships give me a sense of security that allows me to really be creative. I feel a bit sad that you place creatvity as more important than anything else in feeding your soul. Perhaps you are missing a link that might help you feel that fear is always lurking...

  4. Whoops to above - that might help you feel less fearful, that fear wont always be lurking.

  5. A lesson learned on a walk this summer was that fear is the root of most of the world's ills. It can usually be distilled down to fear. Luckily U am hearing this a lot, which means there is group think going on. LeeAnna

  6. I believe that facing a challenge is what keeps me growing. I learned to swim in the ocean in RI when I was just a tot. In fourth grade I took lessons to learn how to dive, but was pushed into the pool and dove and my hands hit the bottom. It scared me away for about five years. Then I wanted to go canoeing at camp and diving was required. I went out on a dock alone and stayed there until I had the courage to dive. That broke the fear. I never liked diving, but I could when needed, as in lifesaving training. It's one of the best lessons I ever learned.

  7. This makes me smile and smile and smile and nod and nod. Well said, well put together, my friend. You've expressed very well the feelings I get when I allow the creativity to flow, to shine through the doubt, the fear, the frustrations, all of which accompany it in some way or form, but oh yes, emotional? Feeling alive? Connected? Worthy? Abso-freaking-lutely.


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