In my latest writing ventures, I find myself once again staring down the dead eyes of fear. The polar opposite to creativity when the so-called writer’s block has taken hold. Thing is, it’s not a block, it’s confronting the wide-open unknown. In one aspect, I am playing god with my characters in a fiction piece whose outcomes have been conceived and reconceived several times over while pondering the structure of a nonfiction book. I have confronted fear on numerous occasions, never submitting to it. Yet, I still find myself here.
Some days I wish my life were as simple as coming home from work, turning on the TV, and eventually going to bed. That simplicity would make me crazy. It’s an escapist thought to avoid this inevitable confrontation. Better thought: escape to Disney World for a day or a year. It’s easy to avoid fear, to let it win. And then what – spend a lifetime burying my head and cowering in the corner?
So, what’s the point of me writing this. I’m sure you’re wondering that as I am. To confront fear in the creative sense. To realize, to affirm, to share the lesson that creativity dies when fear fills the void. Embrace the unknown; mold it in your mind’s image. Create your world before bloodless zombies scare it out of you. Hold a pep rally, fall asleep at the bar, enter altered states of dementia; whatever motivates you. Just try not to harm anyone in the process. My point is – as I beat it into my own subconscious – you need to maintain control, kill some zombies, and spend a well-deserved week at Disney because those monstrous writing projects are complete and on their way to publication. Until then, never give in. Let creativity reign.
4 thoughts on “Fighting Creative Fear”
Nicely put. Fear is part of the creative process because it renders you so naked and vulnerable (metaphorically speaking). 😉 But you just have to fight it and let, as you say, creativity reign!
Thanks Larissa. How do you find yourself combatting fear when you write? I imagine it must play a big part in memoir writing.
I like this and I think you speak to a different perspective than pigeon-holed types that you see in writing columns like writer's block. The fear and anxiety that you discuss here isn't what you can't write but what happens when you do write. We, as writers, put more pressure and weight to our work than anyone else. And because of that pressure and the idea that we will never be good enough, brings that fear out further. Writer's block isn't real for me because I can write – I am just not ready to engage the project or assignment I think I should be working on. It is a conflict not a block. A lot of writers have discussed this. However, I also have a fear. It is that I've had an idea or a character in my head for a long time and I need to work on that. But, the fear is that when I start working on it, not only will it become real, it will fall apart on the page, become frivolous or worse just fail completely. And like all writing projects, it will get difficult. And sometimes, I don't want to take a poignant or significant moment that I've imagined and rip it apart. This is why I don't show new work to people until I am confident that it won't fall apart. I am not worried about people seeing it, but I have to convince myself that it is worth writing and doing before anyone else. I get angry at myself when I write something and share it (all aglow in the new ideas I have) and someone says something critical. I am not angry with the criticism – but the fact that I wasn't ready as a writer to hear it yet. This is a big issue with me. And some of it is realizing the project completely and writing a complete short story, or fifty pages of a novel… then I can share, talk about it and feel like I can take on new views and ideas. The other point here in your article is that because we are so critical, we don't celebrate our accomplishments. We don't have TGIF moments, where we hang out at the bar and have a beer and talk about the case we won, or the hard work we did. It just goes on. And to remove yourself from your work is not normal for writers… we are always working. So, to celebrate, to get excited about having a story accepted, to be energized by a creative writing class, it needs to be recognized. And it needs to be part of your own validation as a writer and a contributor to the arts. I am all for touchdown dances and celebrations to mark the completion of projects. If we can't recognize our own achievements and goals – then we can't explain then to our families, our editors, our students, and the world. While often not discussed in workshops and writing books, is is important.
I'm with you on those little celebratory moments, those accomplishments are rarely acknowledged on the level they should be. In my career in all things creative – including visual commercial work – the only times I can remember those acknowledgements taking place were art exhibition openings, which I have not done in over ten years. Kind of sad. Yet, I find myself always working in some capacity, around the clock for my employer, my education, or myself. I think I will start throwing those TGIF moments!