December 06, 2012

My Creative Anxiety

What if no one likes it?
For me, the number one barrier to producing anything new or working on new projects that excite me is creative anxiety.  For some reason, the act of trying to create something can be extremely anxiety-producing.    

This blog has been a perfect example of this phenomenon in action. I started off extremely motivated, pumping out post after post, but the entire time there was a nagging uncertainty in the back of my mind.  This version of my Homunculus was fond of terrifying questions like: "Is this really a good idea?", "What if no one likes the blog?", "What if friends, family, or coworkers think you're strange for writing about this stuff?", and on and on.

After time, the initial excitement faded but this nasty, pessimistic voice inside remained.  The inertia waned, and writing ground to a halt.  My last post on the blog was two months ago. And I begin to weep.

However, I take some solace in knowing that I'm not the only one with this issue.  For example, in this great TED talk, Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert describes one strategy for dealing with creative anxiety: take the pressure off yourself by ascribing creativity to a Muse.  Perhaps a Homunculus would be a better metaphor?  I digress.

Another perspective on this issue comes from Seth Godin in this series on starting a new venture.  I was struck by how Seth kept reinforcing that the essential step in starting a business is to become comfortable putting your idea out in the open.  Fear of judgement or fear of failure are the primary obstacles to starting a business.  In this context, creative anxiety shifts from being a problem of the artists and writers to a real-world problem that gets in the way of our success.

Unfortunately, I don't think there is any cure for this issue.  Rather, I fear we must simply become numb to the difficult emotions and soldier on, working despite the discomfort that comes with being truly creative.  I will try to remind myself that, while the process of creating can be very unnerving, the finished product often makes it all worth it. 


5 comments:

Elainesorabona said...

I like this and have similar thoughts writing a blog about anxiety, but I recently completed a pilgrimage to Spain called "El Camino de Campostela" and I learned that the fearful thoughts about danger or not being good enough is what prevents most people from living out there dreams. Positive energy attracts positive events in life, I truly believe this. You seem to have a creative mind and I will check back on your blog.

Vince Panzano said...

Hi Elaine -thanks for the support :) Most people don't give themselves enough credit about what they are capable of doing, myself included. It's a very strange phenomenon... Why would our minds do this to us?? But, you're right: fear of failure often causes inaction which guarantees failure. Weird!

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