Relax and the fear relaxes too. ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

Two weeks ago, I attended a book reading at BAM for Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book Big Magic. Big Magic is a self-help book, where Elizabeth shares her experiences with creativity, and why fear is a part of the creative writing process.

During her reading, Gilbert discussed the importance of acknowledging fear and its presence because “if you don’t acknowledge fear you won’t be able to do something interesting with it.”  When you acknowledge your fears and categorize them it puts you in a position of power. It can be easy to allow our fears to consume us, but if we set limitations on our fears it can be a springboard for creativity to form.

Acknowledging the presence of our fears helps us to set boundaries around it. Scientists have proven that fear is an evolutionary trait that protects us from dangerous situations. For example, fear stops us from stepping over the yellow line on a subway platform, because crossing over the line would mean falling onto the train tracks. Also, fear stops us from touching a hot stove with a boiling pot of water because if we touch it we’ll get burnt. Although our fears help to protect us, it also teaches us valuable lessons along the way.

I left the reading that night feeling so inspired with the passage Gilbert read, and the interview/discussion she gave afterwards with the playwright, Sarah Jones. I signed up for audible.com, and I downloaded Big Magic. There’s something about her voice, and how she directs the words from the page and brings them to life, that makes me only want to listen to her books on audio. So far, one of my favorite chapters in the book is where she discusses the pressures we place on ourselves as artists. She gives the example of college students getting degrees to validate themselves and their writing. She goes into detail on the various demands that we place on our creativity, and force it to pay our bills, and in some cases once it has we think it will happen again. But that simply isn’t the way creativity works. Gilbert’s states that she worked various jobs until the success of her memoir Eat, Pray, Love. When you work various jobs you create a space for creativity to form, and you lessen the burden of your financial needs. According to Gilbert, lifting the financial burden from your creativity and working “for the man for a while”, will ultimately create a fortress for your creativity to blossom and grow!

What are your thoughts on creativity? Have you ever used your fears as part of  your creative process?