“I don’t do anything anymore that feels safe. If it doesn’t scare the crap out of you, then you’re not doing the right thing.”

I’ve always liked that comment by Sandra Bullock – but the quality and intensity of fear, which we refer to as anxiety, can both motivate and disrupt creative expression.

In his post “Turning Anxiety Into Creativity – Using what scares you to motivate you,” psychotherapist and mystery author Dennis Palumbo writes that “there is something to be said for accepting—and learning to navigate—the minor turbulences of life. I’m talking here about common, everyday anxiety. The jitters. Butterflies.

“This is particularly true for artists in Hollywood—writers, actors, directors, composers—whose very feelings are the raw materials of their craft.”

He adds, “These kinds of feelings are tough to deal with, to be sure, even if validated (and then gently challenged) by a supportive therapist, mate, good friend, or fellow creative type who’s ‘been there, done that.’ These deeply embedded, childhood-derived, seemingly inescapable Dark-Night-of-the-Soul feelings can, in fact, be crippling, regardless of your level of craft or years of experience.”

Palumbo thinks “struggling with these doubts and fears doesn’t say anything about you as an artist. Other than that you are an artist… The important thing to acknowledge, to accept and to make use of, is the fact of this anxiety — its weight, its size, and its implacability at this time in your life.”

Creativity coach Eric Maisel, PhD notes one way anxiety shows up for many people.

He asks in his book Mastering Creative Anxiety, “Are you creating less often than you would like? Are you avoiding your creative work altogether? Do you procrastinate? That’s anxiety.”

From my post Creative Anxiety – Are You Procrastinating?

More posts:

Sensitive to anxiety – Being highly sensitive probably increases our vulnerability to anxiety.

Fear and being creative

Developing creativity: Fear is not a disease. “Fear is good. We view fear as a disease. It’s not a disease.” Psychologist Robert Maurer.

Elizabeth Gilbert on fear and creativity and mental health

Also see multiple posts on Anxiety/Stress