When does fear pop up in your life and how do you handle it? Perhaps you prefer to simply ignore it. You convince yourself that you are not afraid of anything and you dive headfirst into everything. Or perhaps you freely acknowledge you are afraid of everything and let others go first until you know it is safe.
Fear is helpful. It keeps you from stepping in front of a bus or jumping off a building or touching a hot stove. Fear helps keep you safe.
But fear likes its role a bit too much. It knows it can keep you from doing things and raises false alarms when you need it to be silent. Fear KILLS creativity.
Fear convinces you that you are not ready to post a picture of your latest creation on social media or share a new idea with others. It holds you back from chasing your dreams because you might disappoint someone else.
In Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, Elizabeth Gilbert dives into the impact fear can have on creativity. She shares her experiences as a writer, providing insights into how she has managed her fears throughout her career. She acknowledges fear is always a part of life. And that to be creative is not to deny its existence or let it control your actions – but to find a way to work with it every day. That knowledge and honesty are what make her writing powerful.
One of my favorite passages from her book is a conversation she has with her friend and constant companion, Fear:
“Dearest Fear: Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together. I understand you’ll be joining us, because you always do. I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life and that you take your job seriously. Apparently your job is to induce complete panic whenever I’m about to do anything interesting – and, may I say, you are superb at your job … You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote … But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.”
By ignoring fear, you give it power and allow it to sneak up on you when you least expect it. Putting fear front and center allows you to deal with it before it can sabotage your creativity.
Do you have things you long to be doing but never find the time for? Do you ache for more creativity and freedom in your work? Fear might be holding you back. Try reading Big Magic for more insights on how you can deal with the questions that live beneath fear.
Where might your path take you if you no longer let fear be the driver? You owe it to yourself to find out.