Being creative is a wonderful gift. Through your eyes your dreams come to life. You blend the colors. You choose the lighting. You mold and shape and breathe into your art until it has form and movement and is ready for the world.
Being creative can also really suck the big one. You have to perform. People are counting on you. Your work can’t be just okay, it has to be amazing. Breathtaking. You compare yourself to others who have gone before you, to others who are out there now. And you think they’re better than you. They have more experience. They have more knowledge. They have more skill. So you hide in the shadows. You stall. Or you simply just stop.
Does that sound familiar? Did I just describe you? Is your fear stopping you from pursuing your passion?
When I started to write, the act of writing was the biggest thrill. Words poured out of me onto paper. I felt blessed. Empowered. I had no plan, no outline, no preconceived notion of characters or plot. I wrote. And when the stream of consciousness stopped, I stopped writing. Sometimes a day would pass. Sometimes two or three. Then the flow began again and I continued. I didn’t worry about how I was writing or what I was writing. I followed the internal command to write without question.
The problems started when I compared my stories to the books I read. My friends and family suggested more sex, less fantasy, stronger characters, different plots. Then I joined a critique group. I stopped writing from the heart and started criticizing every word. I lost momentum. Instead of taking several months to write a novel, it took several years. There were long periods of darkness where I told my friends “I’m thinking about it.” And the thinking took over until I stopped writing at all.
Recovery was slow. Agonizing. Friends encouraged me to keep writing. My writing group hounded me about showing up with nothing. And after almost a year of “thinking” I finally began again. It wasn’t easy. I’m a perfectionist and my own worst critic. I edit as I write. But I did it.
If you have the power to dream, you have the power to be. I made a decision. I decided “I’m going to write.” I committed to writing my next novel. I committed to taking however long it takes.
I tried to write every day. Many days I failed. I “prefer” to write when I’m inspired. I love having the ideas, the scene, the dialogue in my head and rushing to find paper to get it all down. But that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes I had to face that blank page. I had to will myself to start.
Are you willing to make that decision? Are you willing to commit?
I had one of those AHA moments the other day. One of those realizations. I know that life presents opportunities to us for the purpose of learning. Every time we don’t learn means another opportunity. Sometimes those opportunities get pretty tiresome and annoying. I’m a slow learner so it takes a lot of repetition. This time I really “grokked” (remember that from Stranger in a Strange Land?) how afraid people are of the unknown. It terrifies me. I’d much rather spend my time thinking about all the things that “could” happen rather than finding out what actually “does” happen.
Do you feel that way too?
The unknown will always be out there. Your job is to focus on the present. This moment. Right now. This is where you face your fear. If you’re afraid of calling people on the phone, pick up the phone. If you’re afraid of speaking in public, stand up and speak out. The first time may not be pretty. You’ll likely be terrified, stumbling, and embarrassed. But when you do it, the power of taking action will stay with you and build your courage. And the more you do it, the easier it will be.
Don’t let your fear prevent you from doing what you’re meant to do. Start now.
Nanette is a writing coach, editor, author, publisher, and CEO of Words of Passion, helping inspirational authors overcome writers block, master correct grammar, create strong structure, and write with clarity. She specializes in helping women write from the heart so they can put their passion into words and inspire others.She created the Partner Up! Book Program to help women entrepreneurs get published the easy way through collaborative books. She is an award-winning writer of short stories and poetry; editor and coauthor of The 28-Day Thought Diet; visionary leader and publisher of the F.A.I.T.H. – Finding Answers in the Heart, Volumes I and II, and author of the e-book Overcoming Writer’s Block: Moving from Fear to Passion. Her coaching programs and services offer clients unique and in-depth ways to strengthen their manuscripts and make their writing sing. You can reach Nanette at email@example.com or via her personal websites www.wordsofpassion.com; www.findinganswersintheheart.com