Overcoming Fear of Creative Failure, Part 1: Managing Expectations
Here's a confession: the closer I inch to release dates for professional writing projects, the more I suffer from senseless eleventh-hour panic spirals.
Along with the more garden-variety worries (that I'll disappoint people by not living up to my last project or by not producing something "good enough" or by writing something that not everyone likes -- imagine!), one of my more persistent concerns is the irrational fear that I'll never have another good idea.
Now, this fear is silly for a number of reasons; and identifying its roots has helped me push past it.
First, I must bear in mind that no one has ever demanded that I produce anything. God gifted me with skill and desire, and I love developing my gifts; but if I quit writing today, the world would continue spinning. Let's face it: there's already an overwhelming avalanche of content available. No one will ever get to it all, even without me adding to the pile.
Second, I've never not had a new idea. Sometimes the ideas have come quickly, and other times slowly - but they've always come. As Stevenson reminds us, "The world is full of a number of things." As long as I'm alive and active in the world, something will eventually spark.
Third, my underlying trust in the sovereignty of God means that I don't rely on myself to keep the plates spinning. He is the ultimate source of every good and perfect thing - including good ideas.
It's all grace.
Dorothy L. Sayers is excellent on these points, and if you haven't read her book The Mind of the Maker, I commend it to you. It's worth picking up for her robust treatment of the creative process as an outworking of the Imago Dei alone; but specific to our discussion at hand, it's also in that book that she pens this heart-warming admission: "No one is more insecure than the creative artist; in daring to dedicate himself to his work, he takes his life in his hands."
She gets it.
Creativity is a risk.
Risks can engender fear.
Fear doesn't have to win.
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