Being a creative person inspires us to write, compose, make and perform. But what about those times we hold ourselves back?
This video is part of a scene in one of the great movies about the inner life of artists and the uncertainties and stresses of that life: “Adaptation.”
Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman [Nicolas Cage] is facing the dreaded blank page:
“To begin…To begin…How to start? I’m hungry. I should get coffee. Coffee would help me think.
“Maybe I should write something first, then reward myself with coffee. Coffee and a muffin. So I need to establish the themes. Maybe a banana nut. That’s a good muffin.”
From “Adaptation” – screenplay by (the real) Charlie Kaufman, based on the book The Orchid Thief (link goes to the movie on Amazon).
From my article How to Manage Our Creative Anxiety and Stress?
In his book Mastering Creative Anxiety, creativity coach Eric Maisel, PhD asks,
“Are you creating less often than you would like? Are you avoiding your creative work altogether? Do you procrastinate? That’s anxiety.”
Dr. Maisel also explains a way creative people avoid:
“If I have desire (or energy, passion, etc.) and begin to obsess about a creative project, but then recoil because I have a phobic reaction to the blank page or the blank canvas (or the very thought of the blank page or the blank canvas), I will find myself in a state of heightened desire but thwarted intention.
He adds that this is “a state that cries out for some large anxiety reduction maneuver like sex, alcohol, shopping, Internet surfing, drugs…”
From article Eric Maisel on anxiety and developing creativity.
Photo: Musician Keith Urban once checked himself into a rehab center for alcohol abuse, with support from his wife, actor Nicole Kidman.
She has been a smoker – another common form of addiction.
From article Addiction and the Dark Side of High Sensitivity.
What is going on when we avoid creative work we really want to do?
Psychotherapist Mihaela Ivan Holtz helps creative people in TV/Film, performing and fine arts with “their life struggles, depression, anxiety, performance anxiety, creativity, relationships and love, PTSD, and addictions – to become their own best version.”
She addresses this topic of avoidance in an article on her site.
You want to ask for what you need, speak up, take on that new opportunity, reach out and connect with people that can bring value to your life.
You dream of taking a class with your favorite acting coach.
You wake up looking forward to writing the song that you’ve been hearing in your mind for a while now.
Today is the day your painting will be done.
It’s time to take a chance and submit your script.
And yet, you find that you don’t… This happens over and over again.
You’re too busy, too tired, too preoccupied. There’s too much going on right now.
Today just isn’t the day.
Time after time, you find yourself not taking that next important step….
There are valid reasons you don’t take that important new step, but is there something more holding you back?
Be present with yourself for a moment.
What comes to your mind if you ask yourself, “how come I don’t…?”
Behind your valid excuses, can you sense another deeper truth trying to reveal itself?
Maybe it whispers gently from the deep down, lost places in your mind.
Or maybe the answer pops out loud and clear, as if it was waiting for that question to bring it out.
Or, perhaps, you can barely hear a message coming from hidden layers of different feelings.
If you’d be honest with yourself, what would you hear?
Hmm….are you avoiding something?
Avoidance? Ok, let’s stay with that. Let’s see it. Feel it. Let’s talk about.
The last thing you want to do is avoid your avoidance.
When you avoid looking at your avoidance, you just get buried deeper and deeper within what you’re trying to not to see.
It makes it nearly impossible to understand or free yourself from what’s holding your back.
What does avoidance bring to your creative life?
Does avoidance allow you to be the creative that you want to be?
Does it open doors to new jobs, castings, or shows?
Does it help you connect with people that you admire and inspire you?
People that genuinely care about you?
Does it make your life as an artist bigger?
Does it fill you with that expansive creative energy?
Or, does avoidance make your life less rich and meaningful?
Does it limit the development and expression of your talents?
Does it limit your possibilities and your relationships?
Your world gets smaller and your potential shrinks, one avoidance at a time.
It constricts your creative energy to a small ball of fire, eventually reducing it to a barely flickering flame…
There is nothing that can reduce your creative flame more than avoidance.
There is nothing that can shrink your life as as artist more than avoidance.
What lies underneath avoidance?
I’m sure, at some level, you know what lurks behind your avoidance. It’s fear.
But fear isn’t the problem. The problem is your relationship to fear and what you do with that fear.
Biologically, when you feel fear, you can have three responses: fight, freeze, or fly.
How is this translated into our minds and hearts?
Read more in article by Mihaela Ivan Holtz
Avoidance Taking Over Your Creative Life?
Who procrastinates and why?
Richard RB Botto addresses this topic in an article, noting:
One in five people procrastinate regularly.
Joseph Ferrari, a psychology professor at DePaul University in Chicago, conducted studies based on this I-don’t-feel-like-it phenomenon and stated, “Everyone procrastinates, but not everyone is a procrastinator.”
See, you’re feeling better already, aren’t you?
If you procrastinate but still get things done, you’re ahead of the game, but can still fine tune your approach.
If you procrastinate and get nothing done, you have more work to do, but change is well within your reach.
Let’s dig into why you procrastinate and what you need to do to stop.
The Reason We Put Things Off
I discovered a long time ago that habitual hesitation has nothing to do with time-management.
Many believe this to be the case, but it’s not.
Having no concept of time may be part of the issue, but the root of the problem is the inability to manage conflicting emotions.
(Say what, RB?)
Here’s what I mean…
Think about how many times you put something off because there contained, somewhere in the depths of your soul, a level of uncertainty?
I don’t think my script is ready, so I’m not going to pitch it or show it to anyone. At least not until it’s 100%.
You and every other writer in the world has had this thought.
And this paralysis of fear over achieving perfection impacts every creative, artist, entrepreneur and businessperson at one point or another.
- Read more in his article
Why You Procrastinate (And What You Need to Do to Stop)
Richard RB Botto is Founder & CEO of Stage 32, and a Screenwriter/Producer/Actor/Author.
Forbes praised Stage 32 as “Lynda.com Meets LinkedIn For Film, Television And Theater Creatives.”
Follow link to my Stage 32 profile to see the many articles, classes and other resources on the site.
How to Overcome Procrastination
Excerpts from article by Denise Angelle Kinsley.
Are you putting off challenging tasks and action steps in order to do comfortable, pleasurable activities that won’t threaten your ego?
If so, it may be time to check your level of procrastination . . . just to see if this type of behavior is an issue for you.
Remember the saying by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, ‘A goal without a plan is just a wish.’
So why do you keep finding other, less critical things to do?
According to psychologist Jane Burka, procrastination is more than a time management issue or a moral failing . . . it’s a complex psychological issue…
Before any of us are able to take action outside the comfort zone — which requires an enormous amount of self-confidence and determination for achievement — our brain assesses any potential emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, and/or financial danger.
And if you’re insecure because of what may have happened to you in the past or because your knowledge and/or skills are limited, then the brain’s risk response kicks in, which leads to other neural responses.
This is all completely normal behavior. So how do we get past it?
Think of your emotional pain (past or present) from the perspective of the brain.
The amygdala is what senses and triggers our fear, stress, and pain responses.
Housed in your memory are all your frames of reference, experiences, lessons, and perceptions.
What you’ve seen in the past still haunts your subconscious mind.
The next step to getting unstuck is to determine the knowledge you need, the skill-set you have to have, and the attitude you must take, if you want to change.
One of the things John Assaraf, NeuroGym founder, coach, and author of Having It All, does when he wants to achieve a goal is to focus on specific tools and techniques:
“I’ll take the goal and ask myself if I have the knowledge, the skills, and the positive behavior for achievement.”
Basically, this is how to overcome procrastination:
- figure out a strategy to minimize the risk of the emotional pain;
- gain the knowledge you need to move forward;
- develop the required skills; and
- cultivate a growth mindset.
When we feel confident and secure, we take action.
We don’t procrastinate when we feel safe and free of fear, right?
So, if you really want to move forward and away from your deep-rooted fears, think about what you need to do in order to take action for your success.
- From longer article:
How to Overcome Procrastination
Why are fears hard to deal with?
NeuroGym presents “Winning The Game of Fear” – a free webinar by John Assaraf.
Learn more in my article: How to Reduce Anxiety and Fear With NeuroGym programs by John Assaraf.