Creative Roadblocks: What Frightens You?

Emily Wenstrom
Creative Juicer
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I love monsters. Zombies, vampires, werewolves, dementors … bring ‘em on. And it just so happens that Halloween is my favorite holiday (no connection here, of course). Be whatever you want for a night? Sign me up. After all, it’s fun to scare yourself a little every now and then.

But as soon as those scary movies start to creep toward the real world, count me out. Torture? No thank you. Serial killers? That’s my cue to reach for the remote.

It’s just not fun anymore when the threat is real.

This is an instinct I don’t mind having when it comes to external threats. It can save your life. But the thing is, we often follow the same instinct with things that scare us in our creative lives. And that’s bad. That can hold you back from amazing things and stunt your growth.

I’ve been building a manuscript for about two years now. But it’s only in the last couple months that I’ve let it pass before the eyes of a single other person. I’ve kept it to myself as much as I possibly could. If someone asked me about it, I could feel my cheeks flush as I stumbled through a series of “ummms” and tried to answer the question while sharing as little as possible. I knew I’d have to let someone else read it at some point—after all, I want to be published—but … oh geez, just not yet.

What was I afraid of? Getting slammed. Finding out my work sucks. Finding out I have an insurmountable amount of work to do on my writing before it is any good. Or worse, that any kind of negative feedback might make me lose all my confidence.

We all get this way from time to time (don’t we?). It takes guts to create something all your own. And even more to share it with the world. So sometimes it starts to feel like it’s better to hoard our creations and just not bother.

The funny thing is, as soon as I actually did share my work, it was incredibly rewarding. Liberating, even. I  knew I was reaching the point where I needed outside feedback, so I finally just forced myself to do it. I signed up for a writing workshop. When it was finally my turn, the feedback I got was great. The class loved it. Their feedback helped me identify the things that was making my writing work–and the places where there was work left to do.

I had been afraid that a critique would make me lose all confidence–instead it strengthened it. Knowing exactly what steps to take to make my manuscript better empowered me. All I felt was excitement to get back in front of my computer and get to work. When another chance  opened up to share another segment of my work, I jumped on it. I’m addicted.

Here’s the thing: Creativity is a gift that is meant to be shared. There’s a reason it gets better with collaboration. It’s a tool for connection and sharing. When we hide it, it’s nothing.

So, tell me … what frightens you? And more importantly, what are you going to do about it!

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