The Surprising Benefits of Creative Fear
A strange thing happens every time I face a blank computer screen. A heavy weight of uneasiness settles inside me—a feeling of inadequacy to ever accomplish what I want to do.
Will I catch the words I need to create the novel I want to write? The daunting thoughts come hard and fast:
Why do I think I won’t fall flat on my face trying to be creative today—why even try?
Desperate acts follow, such as getting up to wash the dishes or mop the floor (or making some toast with butter)—anything to keep me away from the blankness of that glowing computer screen.
When I mentioned the feeling of fear to my husband, his response surprised me.
“That’s good,” he said.
What? Isn’t this the perfect time for a comforting pep talk? It's the danger of being married to a counselor, I thought.
“Fear is good, it helps you focus,” Peter went on to say. “When you have fear, it heightens your senses. It makes you look for options and solutions to get away from the feeling. You’re much more aware, and you’re looking for innovations to get you through.”
(Yes, I like that word innovation when thinking about my writing.)
Considering Peter’s words, born from his own experience and also his counseling work, I realize that some of my best writing days come when I’m feeling the most fear about “measuring up.”
The key, of course, is to push through it and start writing. But when creative fear grips me, I feel frozen and even despairing. It’s not easy to get past it.
When that familiar feeling of creative fear comes now, however, I have a secret weapon: understanding.
I'm recognizing now that the fear of being inadequate will come and, surprisingly, it’s okay to feel this way—it’s normal and I’m not hopeless. With that perspective, I can know I’m the best one to write the book that’s in my mind. In fact, I'm the only one who can do it. It's impossible to be inadequate; no one else could capture what is in my imagination. Just as you are the best one to write your book or create a painting or craft a quilt—your unique creation.
I can get the computer keys tapping again and find, if it’s a particularly good day, the sense of flow that makes writing, and any creative work, so deeply satisfying.
All because I realized the benefits of creative fear.
Linda Borromeo is now working on the story of Mystery Fair, the sequel to her first novel featuring young sleuths Christie and Melina. The secrets the girls discover on a surprising island will change their lives forever. The first book in the series, Mystery Shores, is available to read now.