Creative Development and the Anxiety of Creating

There is a creative person in all of us. How do we overcome the anxiety of creating or not creating. If this sounds familiar then you belong to a very large group of people who experience anxiety often when they approach their next project or try to jumpstart the project that is languishing and suffering from lack of time and attention. 

One of the challenges I hear from students is the question....Does it matter to me anymore? Is what I am doing relevant? Then the voices start in your head.....this has been done before?.....why are you wasting your time?.....this is crap, why bother? .....etc. 

This has been done before? Well, something inspired you to start the project in the first place. It gave you enough juice to jump in and just start trying things out. It doesn't matter if your first efforts are not up to your expectations. Did you learn something that you can take into your next attempt? Start there.

Does it matter to me anymore? This sounds like a mild form of burn out to me. It mattered at some point. Ask yourself what changed. Did you hit an obstacle you can't overcome? If so, have you asked for help or tutoring from someone else? A fresh viewpoint will help you sort out your doubts. 

Are you wasting time? This is particularly difficult if you have a busy life with work, family and social obligations. These things compete for your time and the feelings you have are often more anxiety. I would suggest making an appointment with yourself each week for a specific time period to work on your creative project and put it on all family members calendars, even if it is the refrigerator. This will give you some quiet time to sort out your doubts, obstacles, or start fresh. Develop a short exercise where you sit quietly for a few moments in your work space, close your eyes and recommit yourself to your art and the project. Listen and see what pops into your imagination. This will focus the part of your brain on creativity instead of anxiety. 

Last but not least, this is crap, why bother? Self criticism can be healthy for evaluating personal progress. However, if it is holding you back then it is time to include someone you trust to be a part of your self criticism. It can be a family member, a friend, a teacher, etc. Just make sure it is not a person who doesn't get it, has a negative point of view and has been hurtful in the past. 

Lastly, JUST SHOW UP. Set some ground rules for yourself and others, create a safe place to work and stick to the plan for at least 30 days to get off the stuck place. Honor your creative side. "The longer you wait, the less you can achieve." Al Weber from Advice for Photographers, The Next Step.