"Creativity takes courage." Henri Matisse

Fear of writing or creating, fear of failing, fear of succeeding – fears of all sorts can keep us from pursuing our entrepreneurial visions and creative passions.

Author Milli Thornton describes a CPA who kept shutting off his dream to write:

“He’s long wanted to write the story of his life as a fictional novel, but could not bring himself to write more than the opening paragraph.

‘If I can’t write like Wally Lamb, it’s too scary to even begin,’ he declared in his heart.

“The years ticked by and the CPA felt unfulfilled. ‘I’ll write my story when I retire,’ he promised himself.

“When I heard this, I couldn’t rest. Don’t wait until you retire! I said. You may just put it off forever at that rate.”

“I knew this truth intimately because of the years when painful hormones surging from my fear of writing gene caused me to hide from my own creativity.”

From her article Fear of Writing: Is It A Gene?

Milli Thornton is author of the book Fear of Writing.

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In her article Reclaiming Your Creative Courage, Gail McMeekin – a career/creativity coach and writer – notes that one of the greatest blocks to creativity is fear.

“Fear keeps you from exploring your goals in depth and strategizing successful action steps to achieve them. Fear of failure keeps you from enjoying an experimental mind set where roadblocks and re-routing are expected and, even welcomed as new information. Focusing on the fear of being wrong or criticized clips your creative wings.

“Almost everyone can remember trying something new and being chided. Therefore we learned to play it safe, cease taking risks, and stop the flow of creative solutions.”

To get control of fears or defuse them, she suggests exploring some key questions, such as:

What is your fear about – specifically?

What creative traumas from the past still hold power over you?

What do you fear from your internal critic or people from your past who criticized your ideas and actions?

Write this all down so you can see it and begin resolution.

She is author of The 12 Secrets of Highly Successful Women: A Portable Life Coach for Creative Women.

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What fears do you have about being creative? Maybe if you deeply and honestly and courageously examine those fears, they will have less power to hold you back.

What may really scare us in pursuing a creative project could be the demand for exploring the inner depths of our psyche.

[See the pages on Depth psychology and the Shadow Self, among others on this site.]

In her book Pregnant Darkness: Alchemy and the Rebirth of Consciousness, Monika Wikman says “we descend into darkness voluntarily” when we create.

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Even people who are professionals at creating can sometimes find that exploration or descent fearful or even terrifying.

But many actors, writers and other artists talk about using fear in their work – rather than protecting themselves from it.

Kate Hudson had an interesting perspective about acting in her film “The Skeleton Key”:

“Accessing my fears was a lot easier than when I have to deliver a punch line or be always up. Because I’m not always up. Whereas my fears are always somehow underlining everything, everyday.

“You always have something that you’re afraid of. It kind of fuels you… it fuels me. So it’s easier to tap into those than to have to be up or happy.”

From the page Fear – which has many more quotes.

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Nicole Kidman as Martha GellhornAnother example: actor Nicole Kidman once commented,

“Success, I think, breeds fear. You suddenly say, ‘Oh, can I do it again?’ And once you start to ask questions like that, you throw your creativity into the wrong sphere.

“So you just have to walk away from it.”

She has also said, “I’m not interested in being safe, and I’m willing to fail because of that.

“I feel very ashamed when I do something safe.”

From my article Nicole Kidman: “I’m drawn to what I’m scared of.”

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Our fears about creativity and creating may be fueled by ideas – such as the ones we build up over time that help form our self-concept.

In his post The Number 1 Reason You Still Have Fear in Your Life, Steven Aitchison notes, “What a lot of us do is install a fear into our identity, therefore making it a lot harder to get rid of the fear.  For example I asked an acquaintance a few weeks ago if he was going abroad this year for his holidays.  He advised he was afraid of flying so wasn’t going abroad.”

Aitchison continues, “I asked Bob what had made him afraid of flying and he replied it was because of a particularly turbulent  flight he had been on about 10 years ago and he said he would never get back on a plane again.  I then asked if he had ever been in a car accident and he advised he had been in two, one quite bad and the other a minor accident.  I asked if he still drove his car, and he advised he did and it suddenly dawned on him what I was getting at.”

Aitchison declares that “any type of fear is a choice we have… If we faced up to our fear on numerous occasions we would realise there is not much to be frightened of with most of our fears, so when you say you are afraid of something you are really saying I have not faced up to my fears yet.”

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Beliefs and fears

“The problem isn’t just your fear. No, your fear represents a powerful, self-limiting belief!

“Until your beliefs are identified and replaced with empowering beliefs, no amount of positive thinking will help you create and attain success.”

From the book: Conquer Fear! by Lisa Jimenez.

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The Lefkoe Method

For a program to change beliefs, see ReCreate Your Life
(The Lefkoe Method – you can try it for free.)


Ben Stiller in The Secret Life of Walter MittyPsychologist Robert Maurer, PhD has worked with many successful writers and other creative people, and thinks fear may be indispensable for creative expression:

“Fear is good. As children, fear is a natural part of our lives, but as adults we view fear as a disease. It’s not a disease.

“Children say they are afraid or scared, but adults use the clinical terms anxiety or depression. A writer should not view fear as something bad, but as essentially doing something right.”

Read more in article: Living and Creating: Fear Is Not A Disease.

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As Gail McMeekin notes above, traumas of various kinds from the past can still hold power over us.

Pretty much all of us experience some kind of trauma in life. How does creative expression help people deal with it? How do people make use of traumatic experiences in their creative work? – Read more in post: Creative People, Trauma and Mental Health.


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