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Artists, and creative people: read this "Letter to Fear" by E. Gilbert

Updated: Aug 6, 2020


List of anxieties known by creative people.

So many of these I know intimately. I am sure you do too...


From Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert


"Let me list for you some of the many ways in which you might be afraid to live a more creative life: You’re afraid you have no talent. You’re afraid you’ll be rejected or criticized or ridiculed or misunderstood or—worst of all—ignored. You’re afraid there’s no market for your creativity, and therefore no point in pursuing it. You’re afraid somebody else already did it better. You’re afraid everybody else already did it better. You’re afraid somebody will steal your ideas, so it’s safer to keep them hidden forever in the dark. You’re afraid you won’t be taken seriously. You’re afraid your work isn’t politically, emotionally, or artistically important enough to change anyone’s life. You’re afraid your dreams are embarrassing. You’re afraid that someday you’ll look back on your creative endeavors as having been a giant waste of time, effort, and money. You’re afraid you don’t have the right kind of discipline. You’re afraid you don’t have the right kind of work space, or financial freedom, or empty hours in which to focus on invention or exploration. You’re afraid you don’t have the right kind of training or degree. You’re afraid you’re too fat. (I don’t know what this has to do with creativity, exactly, but experience has taught me that most of us are afraid we’re too fat, so let’s just put that on the anxiety list, for good measure.) You’re afraid of being exposed as a hack, or a fool, or a dilettante, or a narcissist. You’re afraid of upsetting your family with what you may reveal. You’re afraid of what your peers and coworkers will say if you express your personal truth aloud. You’re afraid of unleashing your innermost demons, and you really don’t want to encounter your innermost demons. You’re afraid your best work is behind you. You’re afraid you never had any best work to begin with. You’re afraid you neglected your creativity for so long that now you can never get it back. You’re afraid you’re too old to start. You’re afraid you’re too young to start. You’re afraid because something went well in your life once, so obviously nothing can ever go well again. You’re afraid because nothing has ever gone well in your life, so why bother trying? You’re afraid of being a one-hit wonder. You’re afraid of being a no-hit wonder”


So this is what you do. Talk directly to fear:


Roadtrip with creativity and fear:

"Dearest Fear:

Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip. I understand you'll be joining us, because you always do. I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life and that you take your job very seriously. Apparently your job is to induce complete panic whenever I'm about to do anything interesting, and may I just say, you are superb at your job. So by all means, keep doing your job, if you feel you must. But I will also be doing my job on this road trip, which is to work hard and stay focused. And Creativity will be doing its job, which is to remain stimulating and inspiring.


There's plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us so make yourself at home, but understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way. I recognize that you are part of this family so I will never exclude your from our activities, but still - your suggestions will never be followed. You're allowed to have a seat and you're allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote. You're not allowed to touch the road maps, you're not allowed to suggest detours. You're not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. Dude, you're not even allowed to touch the radio. But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive."


Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert





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