Fear and Doubt

I’ve finished the book The Artist’s Way and the twelve week programme of creative recovery therein. I would highly recommend it to anyone who would like to enhance their natural creativity, which we all have, by the way.

I have worked in a left-brained environment all my career and I have had jobs that are largely analytical and practical. For me to make the shift to a creative craft as a source of income is pretty difficult. I am finding that I regularly doubt my ability to generate income from my craft. I feel like a fraud and I wonder whether I’m following the right path at times. For those making a living off creative talents, this is a constant struggle. Feeling like we are just ‘playing’ or that we don’t have a ‘real job’. I don’t think this fear and doubt ever really goes away. I think I’ll always have the fear that I’ll have to go and get a real job again and have to maintain idle chit chat at the water cooler.

At school I didn’t consider myself creative. In junior school, I remember doing a drawing of a boy in class that was so good my teacher told me to go and show all the other teachers. But I didn’t really pursue it further. I think that my parents had the philosophy that a profession is a serious business. Although they never said anything to discourage me from being creative, I knew that I would not be regarded as successful if I followed an artist’s path.

In high school I remember not excelling at Home Economics. My sewing was awful and I remember clearly noticing an egg on the counter after putting my cake in the oven once. My Home Economics teacher nodded wisely when I told her I would not be taking the subject and she said something like “I think it’s for the best”.

I loved Mathematics and languages, particularly French. I had a fascination with Biology and the human body but didn’t take the subject because I thought I would not get a high grade for it. I took history instead and hated it intensely despite my good grade. That was a big mistake and my first lesson in following your passion.

I’ve started reading The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp. From the title it’s quite clear what the book is about. In order to create something, being creative is not enough: you need to make a habit of delivering your craft. So I’m starting rituals and routines in order to make sure I deliver my book. I do tend to procrastinate and I have tried various tactics to encourage myself. One thing I have found is that once I’m writing, I’m so energised and I’m loving it so much that I don’t want to stop. But it’s the getting started that’s tricky. That’s where the habits come into it.

With little kids in the house it is not always simple to follow the same routines each day. They wake up at different times, sometimes in the middle of the night, impacting your sleep. I can’t disappear off to gym at 5:30 am because I need to get children ready for school and drop them on time. I can, however, wake up a bit earlier to get some of my rituals done before school. Or I can do them as soon as I get home from the school run for nights with less sleep. With the rituals out of the way, it clears the space to create.

Doubt is something that can create havoc for a creative person and will commonly result in a block. A method of overcoming such blocks is a concept of the God Jar introduced to me in The Artist’s Way. You write down your fears, hopes and dreams on a piece of paper each and put them into a dedicated jar. Some time ago my six year old and I had some fun implementing some tips I found on Pinterest. One of them was to empty the contents of a glow stick into a glass bottle and to put glitter inside and shake it up. We created two of them from old bottles we had lying around the house. It has been sitting on my daughter’s bookcase for months so I thought it the perfect candidate for the God Jar. I painted the lid purple and sprinkled some glitter on top and labelled it the ‘God Box’.

While I was busy with the exercise of writing down my fears and doubts, my daughter came to talk to me. I initially felt a bit embarrassed and was tempted to send her out of the room. Then I thought about the fact that she also has fears, doubts and dreams that she might want to put in God’s hands. So I asked her to draw hers and we could both put them inside the jar. She absolutely revelled in it and came up with a dozen or more ideas, mostly around animal cruelty and nature conservation. We threw our little snippets of paper into the jar and I told her that they are now with God and we don’t take them out again or worry about them again. I see that some of the pieces of paper have now become tainted with the contents of the Pinterest experiment but perhaps that’s a sign that they are being taken care of.

God_Jar

I have also come to the realisation that I miss being around people. I may be an introvert but I do enjoy talking to people and sharing experiences and insights. I have noticed that I tend to set up a coffee or breakfast once a week to see people and I have been worrying that it is taking time away from writing. I thought it might be a good idea to seek out other creative people, particularly writers. I can learn from them and share doubts and fears. So hopefully in the next two weeks I’ll join a writer’s group and put my work out there for feedback.

I must say that I have found it more difficult than expected to change career paths, particularly into a creative pursuit. I am plagued by more fear and doubt than ever in my working life. But I do feel a whole lot freer and I love the feeling of flow once I’m writing. I love the idea of there being something great trapped inside me and I create a habit in order to free it onto the page.

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Kathy
I am a champion for living your passion. Writing is my passion, my destiny and my calling. I am a mother of two beautiful daughters and a wife and live in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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