As a kid, I read a lot and wrote a little – I knocked out a few acceptable essays and poems, some for my own pleasure, others for school assignments. But then adulthood, kids, jobs and life happened. Then life threw me a damn curveball, and suddenly, my entire universe was turned upside down. While I’m grateful for my devoted family and circle of friends, and otherwise content and happy life, I felt a pull to do something more. I just wasn’t sure what that something was at first. Then I decided that – without possessing any real experience – I was going to write and share it.
But I didn’t know how to start.
Fear, The Almighty Barrier to Creativity (and everything else)
What propels you to take action or begin a project? Why do you get to work on time? What motivated you to start your blog? How did you decide it was time to take that karate class? What is it that provides that kick in the backside?
I’m capable of inventing plenty of reasons why I avoid sharing my writing, but procrastination is my go-to excuse. But procrastination is only a pretext for other, deeper pitfalls. Those may include perfectionism or poor time management.
But I believe in most situations, the underlying force behind our procrastination is fear. It’s possibly the most fundamental cause of failure to grow or progress. Fear that we’ll be criticized or laughed at. Fear that we’ll get it wrong and appear the town joke. It’s scary out there, and it’s intimidating to put yourself out there where everyone can see you at your most vulnerable.
So how did I get over this fear? Well, to be perfectly honest, I haven’t completely. But I did get one of those proverbial kicks-in-the-butt one day while listening to the radio.
The song “The Motions” by Matthew West was playing and it spoke to my immobilizing fear of sharing.
This might hurt, it’s not safe
But I know that I’ve gotta make a change
I don’t care if I break,
At least I’ll be feeling something
‘Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of life
It will hurt and it’s definitely not safe. You will be judged; and not everyone will appreciate your content or creativity. Some folks will even let you know about it.
For introverts, this can be downright terrifying. I’m the most introverted introvert ever. Not that being an introvert is the problem; it’s not. The problem is when you let it impede you from moving forward, connecting with other humans and sharing your gifts.
I composed enough prose and ideas to fill journal after journal before sharing anything. Hell, I’m still petrified of the Publish button. Fear is a powerful obstacle. It takes a miraculous amount of strength to ditch it.
But what’s the alternative to remaining fearful? Stagnation. No forward motion. And no growth.
So yeah, you might break, you will be judged, and you will most certainly screw up sometimes. But that’s OK. We move on, and the world even keeps turning on its axis.
A Word on Perfectionism
You don’t have to be perfect.
Which is great news, because guess what? None of us will ever reach that level.
“If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.” –Margaret Atwood
Not that we shouldn’t strive for constant improvement. Striving for better is what keeps us growing. It’s what generates progress, innovation and development.
As you practice and spend time with your craft, progress will occur naturally. But don’t wait for perfection. Go ahead and hit that Publish button. Once you do, you’ll immediately realize that something could have been better. Oh well, you’ll know better next time. And that’s ok.
No regrets, not this time
I’m gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love make me whole
I think I’m finally feeling something
‘Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of this life
It’s time to command those voices in your head to beat it; you know, the ones that tell you no one will want to read what you have to say, or appreciate your art, or that it’s all been done before. It’s time to let your heart have a turn for once. The trick is to muster up all your strength, kick fear to the curb and forget the regrets. The voices in your heart are the ones that tell you that the world requires, even demands your unique point of view. And I guarantee there is someone out there who needs to hear your message or identify with your creativity, and his or her life will be changed for the better because of it. And that makes it all worth it.
I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking,
What if I had given everything,
Instead of going through the motions?
Don’t spend the rest of your life just “going through the motions.” Find the source of your passion; perhaps it’s God, your family, or somewhere deep inside your soul.
Or perhaps it’s a song you heard on the radio today.