How to Avoid Creative Anxiety

Lately I have felt small (or probably longer than small) spurts of anxiety towards my creative ambitions. I easily fall into this trap of seeing people do incredible things, and then look at what I create and think “man, I could never live up to that.” It starts to stunt my ambition, pulling me away from even trying all together. Which then leaves me in that pit called, "What am I even supposed to do in this life?"

I’ve been reading a book called Every Good Endeavor by Tim Killer, a famous pastor located in NYC, and his book talks about how people were created to work and CREATE. That the creation story is a model of how work was a quintessential foundation of this world even in the beginning. Even if you believe in God or not, Tim Keller’s book brings up a really good point that we should all consider: Work is fundamental to human nature, and we were created to create. Whatever that may look like (maybe its spreadsheets or lessons plans or dances or music or workout routines), our creation and work has an impact on the people around us. But not doing the thing, or sometimes things, that we were made to do could mean that we’re actually robbing society of that beautiful contribution that you and I were created to bring into this world.

Knowing all of this, I sit and reflect on the things I love and want. I want to seriously stop being so anxious about doing things “right” and gaining a following. My social and creative capital should not come from my number of followers on Instagram, but should come from the few souls that I am blessed to touch within my immediate circles. However, by not doing what I love - which is to inspire and motivate others with photography, design, and words - then I’m not providing my small community with the thing that I was created to do.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Are you feeling anxious about a project or assignment because you feel it won’t be done perfectly? Or maybe afraid to try something new because “someone else is doing it better” or “I’m scared to fail and look like a fool?” If this sounds like you, welcome to the club! I want to share with you a few reflection questions that help me hop over that anxiety slump:

What do I love to do?

Why (and how) is my work important and meaningful?

What is my next step?

After reflecting through these questions, here are some simple steps to take in order to decrease those levels of creative anxiety:

Set goals for yourself.

I actually own a Passion Planner which gives me the opportunity to reflect on all of the goals I intend to achieve within the next few months, and soon years, of my life. If you have end goals you want to reach (maybe releasing an EP or publishing a book), set a deadline for yourself and try setting small goals along the way to work up to that goal.

Dedicate time to your creative niche weekly (or even daily).

I actually dedicate 15 minutes every day to write. It’s a part of my daily journaling, which I find to be the most therapeutic way to get my creative thoughts into action. Dedicate some time to working on a project (even if it’s for 15 minutes) every day. Not only does it help you to get closer to your goals, but it helps you to feel less anxious about getting something creative done and getting closer to those goals.

Be confident in the creating process.

Nothing is ever going to be perfect, and to be honest, not everything you create will be shared with the rest of the world. Remember that popular phrase “practice makes perfect?” Working towards your creative goals, even if it’s not being show to the world yet, means you’re getting more expertise in that field. Knowing in all of this, be confident in those moments of practice. The creative process is a long one, but if you’re not confident in the practice process of your creativity then you won’t be confident in making final projects.

Don’t compare your work to what others are doing.

How EASY it is for me to get on Instagram or Pinterest and compare to others, especially blogs, writers, and photographers. Remember what I wrote about us each bringing different contributions to our society? It’s important to keep that in mind when working on your creative goals! If you try to do what others are doing, not only are you imitating work that is already been done but you’re robbing your immediate circles from what you have been created to do in order to inspire them.

Don’t worry about money quite yet.

I know many artists who work part-time or full-time jobs in order to pay the bills so they can pursue creative ambitions, and honestly that’s still a beautiful lifestyle to live. Sometimes being a creative artist doesn’t mean you have to make money full-time doing that creative ambition quite yet. Enjoy the job that provides you with all that you need right now, and take your free time to pursue your goals. Some may combine work and creativity into one, but others like to keep them separate (hint hint, I write this blog for free) and that is totally OKAY!

To conclude, here’s an awesome TED Talk by the author of Eat, Pray, Love, and the constant anxiety she had about creating something new. Very inspiring!



Photo Credit: Lauren Awtry