• The Storyteller's Cottage

Overcoming Fears That Stifle Creativity

Updated: Mar 18

How often have you stared at a blank page, or doodled on a canvas that was meant for greatness, or suddenly developed a burning desire to reorganize your phone chargers instead of outlining your next great event?  More often that you'd think, creative block is caused by hidden fears.  Uncovering those fears can feel like ripping off a Band-Aid, but it's worth a little pain to push yourself to the other side of the wall that's preventing your imagination from soaring.   The first time you read through this list of common fears that freeze creativity, your subconscious may rebel and whisper, "Oh that's not me!  I'm more mature and complex than THAT!"  But after you let the information marinate a bit, you are likely to remember events from your past that fit perfectly into one or more of these categories.  You may cringe and feel a bit ruffled to realize that your subconscious is so strongly stomping the brakes, but knowledge is freedom. Once you identify what's holding you back, you can step right up and smash it.  Which one of these scenarios sounds the most like you?

  • You've established too many rules for yourself. Do you find yourself saying things like, "I'm a morning person, so I can really only work well before lunchtime." Or, "I can only concentrate when no one else is around." Or, "I just don't have enough of the right supplies to do this properly."  There comes a point when your self-imposed rules become more a vehicle for "building a moat around your castle" than anything else. 

  • You've bitten off more than you can chew. Blue-sky dreaming and brainstorming is a great way to start a project, but 99% of creative enterprises must scale back to fit within realistic financial and physical limits. Is your project so unwieldy that it can't possibly be finished?  You may be hiding behind an impossibility to purposely avoid ever reaching the point of final judgement. 

  • You're avoiding negative feedback. Why are you unconsciously stalling on finishing this project?  Are you worried that you are destined to hear critical reactions that will hurt your feelings?  Are you distressed over the possibility that some troll will mock the creation you've worked so hard on, or even worse, a respected colleague or friend won't find it as wonderful as you imagine it will be?

  • You're waiting until your project is perfect. Do you keep finding small tweaks that must be made, or additional angles to pursue?  Or have you discarded and relaunched your project more than once, promising yourself that "this time" you're on the right track?  

  • You're afraid of failure.  All of the previous scenarios boil down to this one thing.  Whether you're ready to admit it to yourself yet or not, the roadblocks that you've placed in your own way are all there simply to protect your spirit. 

It can certainly be crushing to experience a bad review, or to hear negative assessments of your work, but CHANCES ARE YOU'LL BE HEARING POSITIVE FEEDBACK TOO! Ask yourself, "What's the worst that can happen?" Then think about the slim chance of that eventuality coming to pass.  Sure, you may not produce a perfect product, but that situation is not the end of the story.  Creativity is a process.  Negative feedback, constructive criticism, practical assessments and thoughtful evaluations are all USEFUL TOOLS and are most often balanced by positive reviews as well.   No creative artist has ever been able to produce a perfect work in one draft, nor is any successful artist immune to critique.  This has never stopped the production of art.  Imagination wells up within us and demands to be set free, and the most wonderful aspects of the world we live in are the result of individual artists overcoming their fears and sharing their creativity with the rest of us.  You are one of these essential building blocks.  Recognize when you've built your walls too high, and when you've assigned too much importance to things that you CAN live through and let float into your past.  Allow yourself be comfortable with imperfection, and teach your ego to accept help.  Whether you need to write positive affirmations on your mirror, or show your work in progress to someone who's guaranteed to say nice things about it, or review some of your previous successful projects -- once you tell yourself that YOU CAN DO THIS, believe it.  

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