Inspiration can be elusive, especially for those of us who aren’t natural risk-takers. Here’s how I overcame fear and jumpstarted my creative life.
|How I Found Inspiration by Taking Risks|
I am not a natural risk taker. Really. We’re talking vanilla ice cream, greige paint, and navy blue church dresses. It’s not that I don’t like Moose Tracks ice cream or want to spring for the craft ruler that only got (*gasp*) four stars on Amazon. Deep down, I’m terrified of making the wrong choice. This tendency has kept me out of a lot of trouble in life, but it also stifles my creativity to the point that I feel inspirationally paralyzed.
Have you been there? We all have at some point. The past few months have been a turning point for me, and there were a few life choices that contributed to my inspirational well-being.
I CHOSE A WORD OF THE YEAR
My word for 2016 is “Leap”, without the proverbial “Look before you—“. Oh, man, I just realized it’s a leap year. I swear, that’s not why I chose the word, and I’m keeping it! 2016 is going to be all about taking risks and failing toward my goals.
I’m going to throw myself into the things I love with reckless abandon, without caring about how it will color people’s opinions of me. I’m going to experiment with artwork, be daring with my writing, and reach out to people I admire without caring if I embarrass myself. This will be the year I reach for goals I believe are impossible, and I will revel in the progress I’ve made, rather than wallowing in my ineptitude.
I STOPPED PUNISHING MYSELF
After finishing my master’s this past August, I threw myself into the very intimidating world of freelance writing. And I stayed positive and cheery! No, not really. I felt overwhelmed, and there were more than a few missed opportunities because I just couldn’t get my creative juices flowing enough to meet a contest or submission deadline. I spent hours tormenting myself for the perfect character name or rewriting the same sentence over and over (my “delete” key and I have become very close friends). I berated myself when I read books by authors I admire, thinking, I’ll never be able to do that. If I’d continued down that road, I’m sure I would’ve been right.
I BUILT A SUPPORT NETWORK
Some things happened in my life right about this point that helped me find my inspiration, or more accurately, train my inspiration. I met an amazing group of women who agreed to workshop with me every other week. I consider this essential for anyone in a creative field. A group of like-minded people can help you critique and improve your work, spark new ideas, and discover industry strategies you hadn’t considered.
I BRANCHED MY CREATIVE HABITS
Another habit I’ve taken up recently is what I like to call “creative free time.” Explained simply, it’s a time for creative endeavors unrelated to your professional craft. These activities tend to be meditative and unstructured. By dedicating yourself to something that stimulates your brain’s creative centers, you can strengthen your imaginative capabilities. For example, adult coloring books and doodling are great ways to give your hands and eyes something to focus on while your mind relaxes. It wasn’t until I met the incredibly talented Dawn Nicole that I began to incorporate coloring into my creative free time. Dawn was also the first to tell me about hand lettering. I know, I’m behind on things, but I had no idea! From Dawn’s work, I learned to experiment with color and form, to take small creative risks by adding to the picture on the page, and coloring outside the lines (I’m an uncontrollable rebel).
I KEEP CREATIVE JOURNALS
Journaling is a known technique for firing up your creative engine, and it has the built-in bonus of keeping your ideas all in one place. Just about every writer I know has a journal. Or two. Or three. I have a hard time keeping my journals going if I treat them as page-a-day chores. People who fear the blank page might prefer a prompted journal, which is a fantastic way to document your devotionals, self-improvement, or meditations. You might never know you had certain ideas or feelings until they pop up in your journal. Once you start following an inspirational lead, it might turn into a blog topic, short story, novel, or even more.
I find I need something a little more adaptable, and this is where my Bullet Journal comes in. Not only does it help me organize my daily life, but I can keep multiple inspirational lists going and add to them throughout the day. I incorporate doodling and coloring to my journaling, sort of like an all-in-one creative diary and daily planner. Taking creative risks in a bullet journal (or bujo, as we enthusiasts like to call it) is easy because if something doesn’t work, you just turn the page. Voila! Fresh start. Try it for a month; it is incredibly freeing!
I EMBRACED FAILURE AS A PATH TO SUCCESS
While it has been a struggle at times, I’ve managed to keep a positive attitude through the constant rejection and hours of fruitless writing. What I’ve discovered is this: If you want to succeed in a creative field you have to be willing to 1) take risks and 2) fail. A lot.
I’m going to fail. Miserably. So are you. Let’s just let that sink in for a minute.
I know it’s hard to take defeat gracefully when you are reaching for something, but once you accept it as inherent to progress, you can plan how you react to disappointment. We can’t achieve anything worthwhile without failing first (probably over and over). The sooner you honestly accept the risks involved with your dreams, the closer you will be to achieving them.
Take the leap! Take chances on hobbies, on your professional life, on your personal life. Reach for the goals you’ve been denying because of self-doubt and fear of failure. Creative people need to take these leaps gladly and often. And you know what?
You might be amazed at where you land.
Over to you! How do you overcome anxiety in your creative endeavors? Share your tips for a more inspired daily life by commenting below.
Brainstorm with me!