Creativity is about facing fears

There’s a moment, after working on something for so long, when you start to doubt it.

You could be a writer working on a novel or an artist doodling on a napkin, and somewhere between when your finger hits the first key or your pen hits the fabric and when you’ve got yourself a final piece of…something, there’s a bright ray of doubt. Often times it’s blinding.

Everyone feels this sometime. For some, the doubt strikes more often than others.

The doubt takes many forms too, but often it’s the shape of an audience, a crowd, or mentor, chanting “This will never work,” or “Nobody is going to care.” Fear of the critic. And there may be value to those warnings. Maybe what you’re doing won’t work. Maybe nobody will care. Maybe you’re working on something that is hopelessly going to end up in a trash pile several years from now.

But the artist (or idiot) presses on. Because he or she has to. At least, that’s how true creatives feel.

There are artists who pickup the pencil because the cute guy or girl in their class does so too. There are writers who type endlessly during the workday because it helps to pay the bills, but once the weekend rolls around that writer is far away from those words and – most importantly – the doubts the writing brings.

True artists persevere regardless.

Artists who paint because they feel it’s the only way they can effectively communicate. Designers and inventors who work because they have an insatiable curiosity about the world around them. Writers who feel that they have something to say, even in the face of knowing that nobody may hear or read exactly what those words are.

For some, creativity is a disease. A real one, not just a psychological theory. Hypergraphia, for example, is the need for an individual to write. It has been traced to imbalances and occasional damage in the brain, commonly in the temporal lobe. Those who have hypergraphia have a very real drive to write.

Real, true, creatives are those who have these desires to create, explore, and answer or ask questions because they absolutely have to.

These types of creatives easy to spot too, because they’re the ones picking up art supplies over the weekend. They’re the ones who send a last minute message to a friend to let them know they’re going to be late, they have to finish this one last line of writing, or programming, or of their architectural blueprint, before they can head out.

They become distraught when they find themselves unable to write, or paint, or dance, or create. But within time they’re back at it, almost uncontrollably. As though someone had flipped a switch within them.

But there are doubts. The true creative wonders if they’re creating something utterly useless. They wonder if there’s a real need for artists. They worry that they’re wasting their time or energy.

The difference between someone who is truly a creative and all of the other dreamers is that the true creative presses on in the face of doubt, of not knowing.

Creativity is about facing fears.

The first place to start is by figuring out what those doubts or fears are, and then getting them out of your way.