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6 Famous Artists Talk About What It’s Like to Overcome Fear and Create Beauty

6 Famous Artists Talk About What It’s Like to Overcome Fear and Create Beauty

Long before I was publishing articles for the world to read, I wrote in a private document. I did this for more than a year. There were a variety of reasons and excuses that I used to rationalize why I wasn’t sharing my writing with others, but in many ways it boiled down to fear.

Here’s what I didn’t realize at the time: fear isn’t something that must be avoided. It is not an indicator that you’re doing things wrong. Fear is simply a cost that all artists have to pay on the way to doing meaningful work.

Obviously, not everything that is thought or written or created needs to be shared. In our age, where everyone has a voice and a platform, there is a lot of noise created.

However, if you have a story inside of you, I think you should share it. If you have an idea that you’d like to create, I think you should build it. If you have a dream that would make the world a slightly better place, then I think it’s your responsibility to deliver it to the rest of us. But it won’t be easy. All artists deal with fears, self-doubts, questions, and a roller coaster ride of emotions.

With that in mind, here are six passages from famous authors, actors, and artists on overcoming fear and unleashing your creativity.

1. Fear tells us what we have to do.

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steven-pressfield

    “Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.

    Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates the strength of Resistance. Therefore, the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul.”
    —Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

    In the beginning, it is more important to start than it is to succeed. It is only through starting that we reveal the opportunity for growth.

    2. Start small.

    seth-godin

      What we need to do is say, “What’s the smallest, tiniest thing that I can master and what’s the scariest thing I can do in front of the smallest number of people that can teach me how to dance with the fear?” Once we get good at that, we just realize that it’s not fatal. And it’s not intellectually realize – we’ve lived something that wasn’t fatal. And that idea is what’s so key — because then you can do it a little bit more.
      –Seth Godin (full interview)

      Mental toughness is a skill, and like any skill it can be developed. Learning how to overcome fear is just like building a new habit. Start small and increase slowly.

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      3. Run to the roar.

      tina-essmaker

        When you are thinking about doing something and it feels scary, when it feels like this big lion is waiting at the finish line and he’s roaring and he’s ferocious and he’s going to tear you apart… you should just run toward that lion anyway. Run to the roar.
        –Tina Essmaker (full interview)

        It’s not your job to tell yourself no. It’s not your job to reject yourself or grade yourself or debate the value or worthiness of your ideas. Your job is to create. Your job is to share. Your job is to overcome fear and run the race.

        Yes, if you build something people might judge it or dislike it. But if you don’t create and share the things that you have inside of you, then you’ll commit the far worse crime of rejecting yourself. You can either be judged because you created something or ignored because you left your greatness inside of you.

        4. Now is as good a time as any.

        hugh-laurie

          It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There’s almost no such thing as ready. There’s only now. And you may as well do it now. I mean, I say that confidently as if I’m about to go bungee jumping or something — I’m not. I’m not a crazed risk taker. But I do think that, generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.
          –Hugh Laurie (source)

          It will never feel like the right time. Do not wait for someone to give you permission to begin. Nobody is going to tap you, nominate you, appoint you, or choose you and say, “Now, it’s time to start.”

          Give yourself permission. Successful people start before they feel ready.

          5. Artists endure.

          friedrich-nietzsche

            To those human beings who are of any concern to me I wish suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities – I wish that they should not remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished: I have no pity for them, because I wish them the only thing that can prove today whether one is worth anything or not – that one endures.
            –Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power

            Ultimately, the chance to persevere through self-doubt and fear and procrastination is one of the greatest opportunities we have for self-discovery. It is through creating that we find out who we really are and what we are truly made of.

            Live in the arena rather than judging from the crowd. It’s more exciting down there. Whether you win or lose, the fight is the reward.

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            The bottom line

            Can anything be sadder than work left unfinished?
            Yes; work never begun.
            –Christina Rossetti

            Contribute to the world around you. Create and share the brilliance that you have inside of you. Life is not meant to spent solely consuming the things that others have made.

            James Clear writes at JamesClear.com, where he shares science-based ideas for living a better life and building habits that stick. To get strategies for boosting your mental and physical performance by 10x, join his free newsletter.

            This article was originally published on JamesClear.com.

            Thanks to Maria Popova of Brain Pickings for pointing me toward some of the quotes above.

            Featured photo credit: Lauren Finkel via flickr.com

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            Last Updated on March 13, 2019

            How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

            How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

            Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

            You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

            Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

            1. Work on the small tasks.

            When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

            Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

            2. Take a break from your work desk.

            Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

            Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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            3. Upgrade yourself

            Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

            The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

            4. Talk to a friend.

            Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

            Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

            5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

            If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

            Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

            Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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            6. Paint a vision to work towards.

            If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

            Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

            Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

            7. Read a book (or blog).

            The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

            Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

            Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

            8. Have a quick nap.

            If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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            9. Remember why you are doing this.

            Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

            What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

            10. Find some competition.

            Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

            Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

            11. Go exercise.

            Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

            Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

            As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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            Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

            12. Take a good break.

            Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

            Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

            Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

            Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

            More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

            Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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