The Practice of Creativity

Posts Tagged ‘fear

Affirmations-366Days#201: The fear of success or failure melts away when I am fully present to the writing coming through me.

For new readers, here’s why I’m committing to writing affirmations, about the creative process, during the next 366 days.

 

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Affirmations-366Days#177: I release the fear of being wrong, feeling shame or needing approval for what I write.

For new readers, here’s why I’m committing to writing affirmations, about the creative process, during the next 366 days.

Affirmations-366Days#133: Fear masquerades as doubt, perfectionism and procrastination. As I write, I name my fears. It is safe for me to create.

For new readers, here’s why I’m committing to writing affirmations, about the creative process, during the next 366 days.

Affirmations-366Days#2: I claim my creative gifts even in the face of envy, doubt and fatigue.

For new readers, here’s why I’m committing to writing affirmations during the next 366 days.

If you wish to live a self-directed life, you have to change your relationship to time.
–Marney Markidakis, author of Creating Time: Using Creativity to Reinvent the Clock and Reclaim Your Life

 

In July, I asked readers to take a one question poll and answer the following: What is the biggest obstacle you face in your creative life?

The overwhelming response was ‘finding consistent time to work on projects’. Time is always an issue for creative people.

What’s your story about time? Not the predictable one that you say on autopilot, but the one that is authentic.

We often tell a well-rehearsed story about how little time we have and why we can’t get to our creative work. I find that fear, lack of focus, unwillingness to prioritize (especially if it means we will disappoint someone), and procrastination keeps people locked into a story of ‘time scarcity’.

Here are some questions to help you dig underneath what is perhaps a familiar story:

-What’s something that you love that you never have time to do?
-What do you always make time for that you don’t want to do?
-Where is there ease and richness of time in your life?
-What kind of time does your creative life really need (e.g. daily creating time, dedicated weekend time once a month, a two week retreat)?
What needs to change about your allocation of time in order for your creative project to flourish?
Do you have models of creative people that you know (or have read about), that have inspired you by the way they use time?

These questions can bring to the surface thoughts and feelings about your experience of time and suggest new possibilities about how to use your time. As creative people, we must learn to manage our time and energy like a top level athlete. As author Marney Markidakis says in her wonderful book Creating Time, “the beast of time can never be fully tamed, but it can be disciplined, nourished, and cared for.”

Here are 3 ways to create more time:

1) Schedule it in. Yes, time for your creative project needs to be in your calendar.

Getting your creative projects to migrate from the bottom to the top of your to-do list is no easy feat. Ariel Gore makes this point in her witty book, How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead. She says that most of us believe that making time for creative work is selfish, so we put it at the end of our to-do lists:

“And then we kick ourselves because the novel isn’t written. We look down at our laps and blush when our writing teacher asks us if we got a chance to write this week. Of course we didn’t get a chance to write—it was the last thing on our list. We had a glass of wine with dinner. We got sleepy. I’m going to tell you something, and it’s something I want you to remember: No one ever does the last thing on their to-do list.”

I write every day. For me, writing every day keeps my momentum going. I typically do an hour of academic writing in the morning and an hour of creative work in the evening throughout the week. My academic writing is scheduled in my calendar. My creative work is scheduled in my calendar. It’s what keeps me sane.

If creating every day doesn’t work for you, find consistent periods of time that do and then schedule them into your calendar.

2) Develop a better reward system. Over the long journey of creating, producing good work becomes its own reward. However, for those of us just starting to pursue a creative path, may need motivation and encouragement to keep saying yes to our projects. Reward systems can be big or small and can be connected to time and/or output. This year is the first year that I have kept an active rewards list for meeting writing goals. About every few weeks, I’m checking that list to see what I have earned. The rewards list can keep me going through the really tough periods where writing doesn’t feel like its going well.

3) Work in smaller blocks of time. Creative people often pine for days of uninterrupted time, but as a coach, I’m often in the position of pointing out to clients that what time they have is not always used well. Creativity expert Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy (aka SARK) uses the concept of micromovements to break tasks into manageable segments of 5 seconds to 5 minutes. Very effective! She believes that creative people often assign themselves too big of a task. And, then when they don’t meet that often impossible task, their inner critics come leaping out to point out their lack of completion.

What can you do in smaller bursts of time?

You can do a writing prompt; draw/sketch, assemble your packets of seeds for the beautiful garden you are planning. She refers to micromovements as an ‘ignition system’. Once you are able to get yourself started, you can keep going after the short amount of time is up. Check out her books  The Bodacious Book of Succulence and Make Your Creative Dreams Real for lots of information on micromovements technique.

 

Do you have some favorite ways to create time? I’d love to hear.

When fears are attended to, it clears the way for clear and simple writing that comes from your heart. Even the briefest attention can melt fear. Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy (SARK)

In March, I began a series about spring cleaning for your creative life. There are three steps in the process:

1) You reassess your space, your schedule, and patterns of mind to see what is supporting or not supporting your creative life.

2) You reorganize your space, schedule, and patterns of minds to allow you to create with more ease.

3) After reassessing and reorganizing, you rededicate yourself to having a productive and joyful creative life!

Reassessing your physical space is a great place to start because it is visible and you spend a lot of time there. Another thing to reassess during spring cleaning are your ‘patterns of mind’. By this I mean, the habitual ways of thinking and responding to your creative life. I’ve been looking at the pattern of fear.

Fear can show up in so many ways in a creator’s life. We fear to write, draw, and sing badly, we fear rejection, we fear we won’t reach our potential, we often fear the blank page, canvas, music studio, etc. Fear often causes us to procrastinate.

Recently, I noticed that I was procrastinating on contacting an editor of a magazine that I met in January. This editor encouraged me to send him a story of mine. I’ve known for months exactly the story that I want to send him. Sending him my story has been at the top of my to-do list, but I have had some fear around taking action. Ironically, I’m not afraid of getting rejected. I’ve been writing long enough to not be undone by rejection. I know rejection is part of the writing process. What was it then? It was a ‘taking the next step’ fear. Since I’ve met him, he’s not a faceless editor anymore. Sending my work to him because I met him and he was encouraging made it harder, not easier. I know this sounds weird. Fears are far from rational! And, because he wanted me to send it to his assistant, and not through the regular submission process, it triggered a fear of ‘not getting it right’. These twin fears around ‘taking the next step’ and ‘not getting it right/doing it right’ are familiar patterns of mind that I am paying attention to this spring.

To put fear in its place,  this weekend, I set a deadline for myself. I wrote a very nice email to his assistant and sent my story with it while I was also so sending out other submissions for this month. I keep a submission sheet to record where and what I have sent out to contests and journals.

Fears never go completely away, but I’ve now got these two on the run for at least a few more weeks.

Do you have pattern of mind that needs some attending to during spring cleaning?

 

As a coach, I have found that the number one thing that stops most people from pursuing their deepest and most meaningful heart’s desire is fear. Fear comes in a variety of forms, shapes and personas including ‘what will they think’, ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘I’ll never make money doing what I love’, ‘I need more credentials’, and ‘what if they don’t like what I create’, etc.

None of us are immune from feeling fear, especially when we’re moving outside out comfort zone. The danger is that fear with its tricky (and sometimes believable) tunes of gloom will get the best of us and immobilize us for far too long. I’ve had my own run-ins with fear over the years. What follows below is an impromptu ‘talking back’ that I recently gave to fear.

When you’re in the grip of a fear attack, it might be fun to write a poem/letter/manifesto to your fear and finish the lines ‘I’ve lived through….’

 

 

I am looking you, FEAR, straight in the eye
How dare you try to intimidate me!
Do you know what I’ve lived through?

I’ve lived through being a battered woman’s child
I’ve lived through being an abused young woman
I’ve lived through poverty
I’ve lived through being almost homeless
I’ve lived through discrimination
I’ve through academe
I’ve lived through the vagaries of a creative life

What else do you think you can do to ME?

How dare you sit there!

How dare you, FEAR!

How DARE you, FEAR!

So what if they laugh? I’m supposed to be worried if the unspecified THEY laugh?

What do you mean?

THEY have laughed before, so I imagine that they’ll laugh again

How dare you trying to make me afraid!

for asking for more
for wanting more
for trying more
for talking more
for being seen more
for saying I deserve more
for desiring more

How are dare you, FEAR!

Here’s what I want you to know, FEAR

Your days are numbered

I’m cleaning house in 2014

You better get in line

Or, I will strip you down into the dysfunctional four letter thing that you are

And EAT you!

 


Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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