Thursday, December 04, 2014

Addressing Fears in the Creative Life: Part 2—Mediocrity

I don't think it makes any difference what your creative life is; fear is fear. Even the most naturally gifted vocalists, for example, have to train and practice, then eventually put themselves out there. Rarely do talented singers stick to in-the-shower concerts, but if they do, one or more fears probably play a part in their decision not to share that gift with at least one other person in the world.  

In my introductory post about addressing fears in the creative life, I cited the fears of mediocrity, indifference, insignificance, and criticism. Here is what I said about the 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.

I am writing this sentence at 5:20 a.m. Not a morning person, I would prefer to be snuggled under the bed covers, not at my desk with the space heater at full blast while it is freezing and black outside. After a dozen tosses and turns, however, I realized I was not going to go back to sleep. Why? I was writing in my head. Make that rewriting in my head—creating, yet fussing, because I didn’t want this post to sound like a personal therapy session. The first three drafts sounded exactly that, and also, well, mediocre.

Yet this is personal. I don’t know about you, but when I send what I have written out into the world, I wonder if I am inflicting, at best, average on anyone who will read it. There, I said it. I fear mediocrity. My head tells me that even I (see that fear talking there?) couldn't possibly always and forever produce a work of mediocrity, words strung together in an average, never good or even great, form. That I don't have to compare myself to all those successful writers, bloggers, and authors I read and read about to feel good about my own work. After all, as a freelance writer, I have clients who pay me for my work, and so far not one of them has said, "We love your mediocrity!"

But my heart does this sinking, fearful, crippling thing anyway. So in lieu of actual therapy, I have been shoving away the fear of mediocrity by asking myself these two questions.

·         Do you truly desire to fan the spark of creativity in your life, seeking, with His help, whatever flame God intends? 
·         Are you willing to work hard at your craft—to train, practice, and then put it out there—no matter how you stumble, no matter how much you fear you might be forever and always average?

My answers are yes. God gave me a creative spark, and I will ask him to help me develop it. I will work hard to learn and grow and do, putting the fear of mediocrity aside the best I can. I will be a morning person when I have to be, rewriting my fear of mediocrity into the joy of creating.

Of course, the fear of indifference can still rear its ugly head. Read "Addressing Fears in the Creative Life: Part 3—Indifference" on Monday, December 8.

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