Monday, December 01, 2014

Addressing Fears in the Creative Life: Part 1

In the Divergent series by Veronica Roth, Tobias is a young man whose faction has nicknamed him “Four” because he has only four fears to their many. Tobias cannot rest in their admiration, however. If he is to survive in his dystopian world, he must work through his fears the best he can to reach his goals. 

From the film, "Divergent"
I am afraid of heights. Even if I know an actor on the ledge of a skyscraper in a movie—his character there to rescue someone in danger of falling—is probably actually three feet off the ground on a sound stage, my stomach reacts. So I just close my eyes until the scene is over. Tobias would not be impressed by my coping mechanism nor with my lack of grasp on reality. Furthermore, his massively successful creator would probably not be impressed by any creative person who simply closes his or her eyes to the fears along the journey. 

Yet, the fears can seem so real, so justified, so overwhelming.

1.       Fear of mediocrity. The more we read about the craft we love, the more we mine blogs and websites and books about the discipline, the more we see others' work, the more we fear that we can never achieve excellence. We will be forever average, at best.
2.       Fear of indifference. “I’m not going to be ignored, Dan.” Glen Close's disturbing character did not give Michael Douglas much choice in Fatal Attraction. What we create, however, is ignored by many, for all sorts of reasons. Others have the choice to not care. 
3.       Fear of insignificance. What if what we have to share with the world is meaningless, inconsequential, boring? Unimportant. What a waste of time.
4.       Fear of criticism. Once we put our work out there, someone might, rather than being indifferent, freely tell us how it is flawed—and in less than a constructive manner. Or even if it is constructive, it might not feel that way.

Maybe some who create have never experienced these fears. 

Maybe some who create have conquered these fears. 

Maybe many who create simply learn, practice, and create anyway.

Read "Addressing Fears in the Creative Life: Part 2" on Thursday, December 4.

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