Every Christmas my family: an advertising exec, a teacher, an attorney, a lab technician and students become sculptors and engineers. With aluminum foil and cardboard, spray paint, and felt we shape gifts of golf club covers into giant razor clams, or a extending mirror into a periscope. There have been martini-shakers turned into rocket ships and a belt coiled into a striking cobra.
Often the wrap is more interesting than the present inside. The creations are funny and phenomenal – because no one is afraid. Everyone is willing to try because the audience is a safe one and everybody appreciates the effort more than the outcome.
This is an ideal environment to create, explore, and try new things. Amazing things happen because of it.
But outside of a few friends and family, you’re probably not going this kind of creative kindness. Invariably, when I talk to friends who would like to publish their work or others who want to start writing they talk about how scary it is. How they fear the rejection, not only of editors and publishers, but of the anonymous trolls on social media. They worry that not only will their work be criticized, but their character will be attacked by strangers.
Courage to Create
It takes courage to create.
We don’t always realize that. We say we don’t have time to create (been there done that) or we claim that we’ll write or paint or design or sew, when the house is clean or the kids are grown or the work isn’t so demanding or when humans colonize Mars.
If we’re really honest, fear is at the root of all these excuses. We are afraid.
Fear of Failure
We fear failure and rejection and meanies attacking our very core. We worry that we can’t do it. And, if we finally do that thing we don’t think we can do, we worry that it will suck. This is of course stifling. It’s hard to create when we know that creativity requires grand failure. Yet, failure is part of the deal. To create good stuff you’ve got to make a bunch of bad stuff first. Stuff that isn’t going to work, look good, make sense. That’s part of creativity.
To create requires trial-and-error and in this culture the error part of things is getting harder to deal with. Social media makes this even more daunting. Because while you will have a whole bunch of believers interested in your creations, you’ll also have the haters. Instead of being praised for stepping out, trying something new, being brave enough to try, creative people are often lambasted for making a mistake, wearing something weird, creating something stupid, not being good enough.
We must remember that despite this cultural criticism, that creating isn’t about getting it right, it’s about expanding into life.
So let the turkeys gobble, and be brave – anyhow. Create anyhow. Try something new, practice, fail, live big – anyhow. Get comfortable with failure and you will find joy in the process and pride in the outcome.
When you can develop a softer relationship with failure and rejection, then you are free to participate, show up, and create the life and the work you desire. This is when we come alive.
The creative process is animating just as it is downright freakin’ scary and exhilarating and curious and sometimes, many times, muddled. But, when you develop courage and make friends with failure – you don’t have to love it (I don’t) you only need to cope with it — when you are mindful of the process and less concerned about Facebook feedback, then you get busy. You innovate. You create. You thrive.
Easy? No way. But, creating is always better than not. In Wednesday’s post I’ll offer up some thoughts about how to make it a bit more comfortable so that you can create despite the fear.