How to cope with creative fears and why it is okay to be vulnerable at times

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Most of the times, my mind state can be described by this line by Emily Dickinson, “I dwell in possibility”. I look at how far I’ve come and that makes me optimistic.

Every morning, I write a gratitude list, and then, I write in my vision journal.

Despite all this, at times, the ego self still wins. The inner critic twists her lips and spews the most hurtful insults.

During such times, that scary question catches me unawares.

“Are you doing enough?”

"Is any of this truly worth anything?"

I was going through a similar phase recently where those voices in my head just wouldn’t shut up. The fact that I’ll grow a year older in a month’s time might have had something to do with it.

Some of my dear friends came to the rescue by reminding me of things that I already know but choose to ignore during such bleak phases.

“You are enough irrespective of your status or your achievements.”

“This feeling crops from the sense of separation created in the ego mind.”

“The Universe/God/Almighty loves you just the way you are.”

"It happens to all creatives sometime or the other."

“You are talented and brave to have taken this decision of following your heart. Don’t underestimate yourself.”

These kind and sensitive remarks brought the smile back on my face.

And then just two days later, the following post from my Facebook Memory cropped up. It seemed like the Universe’s answer to my self-doubt.

"There’s a gulmohar tree that I can see from where I sit and write on my terrace. I stare at it. The azure sky and the streaks of white clouds against it, create a lovely contrast that makes the flaming red of the tree’s flowers stand out even brighter. It’s almost six in the evening and there’s a breeze that makes the flowers on my terrace garden shimmy in delight. A dove sits on the branch of a neem tree, as other birds fly by. No, Delhi isn’t always so pleasant and pretty, this is just a tiny sliver of the delectable spring that the city has kindly offered to us, before summer breathes its fury down our neck.

But today, I’m especially happy. Everything seems prettier this evening. The roses are in full bloom, the gardenias, petunias, and pansies spread the brightness and colors of Holi across my terrace and I take it all in.

Why so happy, you ask?

I have just typed The End on the first draft of my novel. Maybe, I feel happier than I should? (Why are we so guilty of our pleasurable feelings, I wonder!)

Anyway, I know there’s so much of junk that I’d have to wade through, so much of rewriting before I can even call the second draft done and dusted. But nevertheless, I’ll take a moment out to celebrate. (God! Why don’t we have wine at home?)

I feel incredible right now!

I know, I know. It’s not a huge deal for many people. But for me it is! It truly is. I’ve been dreaming of this moment ever since I started writing. I began writing this novel in November last year and completed 50,000 words of it in a month’s time. (Thanks, NaNoWriMo.) But then I took a lot of breaks. Plus, life came in the way. Finally, today I finished it and it is a little over 70,000 words.

I’ll start on the second draft over the next week and I plan on finishing it in three months.

But the important thing for me is the realization that I can do it. I do have it in me.

Of course, it is more difficult than I can describe in words, but I swear it is So. Much. Fun. doing what you absolutely love doing.

I feel like paraphrasing Monica from FRIENDS, and telling myself:

“Welcome to the writing world. It sucks. You’re gonna love it.”"

This same novel found a home with an Indian publisher by winning a novel pitch competition last year. It is soon going to be out into the world.

The Universe seemed to be saying, “Look how far you’ve come…”

Friends, for most of us, a part of the creative journey is to feel self-doubt and fear. But we need to know how this fear/inner critic/insecurities our all incarnations of our ego selves, the part that is supposed to keep us “safe”.

Whenever we veer away from a “safe” path (no matter how painful it was for us to be in that path), the ego tries to warn us about the dangers of uncertainty and how we will surely fail for not sticking to our soul sucking jobs/our toxic partners/our stale lifestyles.

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As Elizabeth Gilbert says in Big Magic (a book that I highly recommend to all writers and other creatives):

“Dearest Fear: Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together. I understand you’ll be joining us, because you always do. I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life, and that you take your job seriously. Apparently, your job is to induce complete panic whenever I’m about to do anything interesting—and, may I say, you are superb at your job. So, by all means, keep doing your job, if you feel you must. But I will also be doing my job on this road trip, which is to work hard and stay focused. And Creativity will be doing its job, which is to remain stimulating and inspiring. There’s plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, so make yourself at home, but understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way. I recognize and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still—your suggestions will never be followed. You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote. You’re not allowed to touch the road maps; you’re not allowed to suggest detours; you’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. Dude, you’re not even allowed to touch the radio. But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.”

Remember this, dear friends.

We are all afraid, more or less. Though our circumstances or the reasons for our fears might be different, we are (as the cliché goes) “all on the same boat” with respect to fear.

What do you do then?

1. Don’t be afraid to show your vulnerabilities. Let people know how you feel, you’ll be amazed to see the support you receive from the Universe.

2. Respect the fact that your fear is real, but like Gilbert says, don’t let it take the driver’s seat.

3. Look at how far you’ve come.

4. This one beautiful, messy, glorious, life has been gifted to us. Would you spend it feeling scared and letting yourself act small, or would you rather enjoy the music and dance your heart out till it’s time to leave the party?

(Image source: Unsplash)

5. Are you having fun while creating? Success is a relative concept, and you might never reach the position you are vying for (worse still, you might reach it and not feel any happiness because your goal has moved forward).

Shouldn’t you just be happy while you’re at it instead of looking at how far someone else has gone and fretting about it?

6. If you need some inspiration in terms of a short guidance before you start your writing or your creative routine, then you can try this beautiful meditation:

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