You would probably agree that doing any creative work calls for vulnerability. True artistry is about digging deep into your authentic self and bringing it out into the light. That's why it can be intimidating to share a piece of that with the outside world.
Publishing a book, implementing an idea, exhibiting an artwork, starting a unique business venture requires courage. Doubts, fears, insecurities are ready to attack and squash anyone who dares to step outside or ordinary.
We start asking ourselves if it's worth taking the risk...
In another blog post, I wrote about my three biggest fears that kept me from writing, but I think the worst one is the fear of criticism.
There is always a chance of being misunderstood and shot down. Sharing something personal only to be torn to pieces by nay-sayers is not for the faint of heart. That's why so many manuscripts stay inside the drawers, so many paintings never leave the closets, and so many original ideas don't materialize.
The question is—
how badly do you want to make an impact?
Let me give you a few examples of people who found the strength to keep pursuing their dreams despite the opposition.
Walt Disney was once fired by an editor who said that he "lacked imagination and had no good ideas."
Emily Dickinson wrote 1,800 poems but only a dozen of them was published during her lifetime.
Claude Monet's work was rejected by the art elite of that time. Steve Jobs got fired by his own company.
Harrison Ford was told that he doesn't have what it takes to be a movie star.
What if these people quit?
As an artist, I follow a lot of creative individuals. I love to see the beautiful work they produce. One day I saw a post from one of the artists. This woman has been making unique paintings full time for a few years and sharing them on Instagram. After receiving several nasty messages that questioned her talent, she told her followers that she is closing her account. She even stopped some of her new ventures. Of course she had an overwhelmingly positive response that prevented her from withdrawing completely, but I personally know several people that left their creative process after receiving negative feedback.
Is the belief in the importance of your pursuit strong enough
to withstand hardships?
Let's do an experiment. Look up your absolute favorite book or product on Amazon and read through the one-star reviews. You might be amazed at how many people took time out of their day to complain about something you thought was the best thing ever. I am not talking about constructive criticism that helps you grow and be better next time, but words that make you want to withdraw your efforts and hide under the blanket with a tub of ice cream. The truth is, there will always be individuals who just want to bash others, and you can't prevent it. Ignore them—it's not about your work but about their own emptiness.
Focus on people who find value in what you have to offer—
you can't please everyone.
Yes, expressing yourself openly, especially if your ideas are different from the crowd, demands a level of bravery, but I am personally more afraid of not letting my creativity be put to good use.
Life can be boring if we don't step out of our comfort zone and stretch the limits once in a while. It might not be easy, but the more we do it, the more confident we become. The longer we try, the better our skills get and the more good fruit we see. The creative process is not just about flowing in your natural element. A lot of times it's being frustrated with the results but trying again, learning, sacrificing, and, most of all, being persistent.
You might want to write a book or paint a picture, but to be able to skillfully apply your imagination requires years of training and hard work.
Do you have what it takes to stick around despite the obstacles? Will you fight to see your dreams come to pass?
So, what makes some people plow through rejection, failure and even ridicule of others in order to get to the finish line, while others are too intimidated to even start the process?
There are a couple of good books about it that I will mention in the end, but let me just share my two cents first. Here is what might help to fuel your courage:
#1 Believing that what you have to offer is valuable.
If you think there is even one person out there who needs what only you can give, it will propel you forward. You might start this process for fun or as a form of self-expression, but to take it a step further, you have to also see the benefit of sharing what you have with others.
how would this make a difference?
Focus on that during hard times.
#2 Realizing that being afraid is normal.
You are exposing a piece of your soul, putting your "baby" into the hands of others, taking a flight for the first time—of course, you'll be terrified! Venturing into uncharted territory, sharing deep feelings or candid thoughts, grabbing a hold of something bigger than yourself will understandably activate butterflies in your stomach. But even people who already achieved some level of success and recognition get nervous. They just learned to not let these feelings stop them but rather push harder and produce better results.
#3 Finding your passion and purpose.
Emily Dickinson didn't stop writing her poems when nobody wanted to publish them. She just couldn't do otherwise. It was part of who she was.
The bottom line is always about finding yourself and enjoying what you do. If nobody else is interested, but it makes your heart happy, just keep this as a hobby. Ditch the pressure to please the world, to perform. If you're being authentic, you'll eventually find an eager audience. People who get really fired up about something are hard to ignore.
Find the courage to step out.
You'll never know who else might benefit unless you share what's in your heart with others. As Maya Angelou said: "You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have."
Here are the books to help boost your creativity. I hope you feel encouraged to go after your dreams no matter how impossible they seem.
Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott
The Courage to Write, Ralph Keyes
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, Elizabeth Gilbert
Books about generating creative ideas
Artists talk about overcoming fears - article
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