Overcoming Fear of Failure as a Creative
A small shift in mindset can be all it takes to go from never posting your work, to sharing your creativity regularly and succeeding beyond your wildest dreams.
I created this post and video as much for me as I did for you. I’ve been there; not willing to hit ‘publish’ on so many pieces of my creative work for fear of… well, where should I start?
I fear that people won’t like it. Or that strangers will feel I’m ‘trying too hard’ or will find me ‘inauthentic’. I compare myself to other successful people online and wonder if my content is even half as good. Is my footage poor quality? Are my video angles boring? Do I look fake in the picture?
Will people understand my message or is this too ‘out there?’ (Insert more self sabotaging excuses not to post).
So instead, I don’t share.
I begin to look at my creation with increasingly critical eyes and no longer feel the excitement towards the project that I felt during the creative process.
Then I discard it. Like a used tissue. Once crisp and clean and now, even unused, a potential festering ground for things you don’t want to touch.
Does this sound familiar?
The problem is, that even as we strive for what we feel is perfection, by not sharing your work you go nowhere. It’s a self perpetuating vicious circle. You don’t post once then a week or two goes by and when it comes to posting again on that social media platform we think, ‘meh, noone is watching anyway. An extra week won’t hurt’…
The result is that you don’t build fans or grow a following. Noone sees how much effort you put into making that last video (and how cool it actually did look). You impact noone and leave countless others stranded, living their lives without the inspiration from your creative message to help them through.
So let’s explore a few reasons why you SHOULD hit publish, even if you’re not 100% happy with your content, why your content is most likely a lot better than you think, and how to break free from the fear that is holding you, me and many other creatives, back.
Start With Your WHY
Every project starts with a ‘Why’. You just need to remember what it was. True, the big entrepreneurs of the world say, ‘You need to find your Why’, and they make it seem like it needs to be some massive life altering reason that seeps into your very soul and defines all of your work… but for a creative, a ‘why’ doesn’t need to be this epic.
Take my latest art piece for example. I just wanted to experiment with new flower shapes and face shading. I thought it would be cool to practice these techniques by drawing a more Steampunk than Gothic influenced character and… well, I wanted her to have a cool hat. So that was my ‘Why.’
She’s nearly finished (you can follow me on my art Insta here to see her) and I don’t think she’s my best piece. I could tell before she was finished, but instead of ripping her up because she isn’t perfect, I’m posting her anyway. I think she’s ‘good enough‘. I still like her and she was a great way to fulfil my ‘Why.’ Someone else may like her a lot more than I do, and she will make an excellent addition to my next art installation (whenever that will be).
You see, when you get back to the reason you started creating in the first place, you’ll remember the value of your work. I was apprehensive about posting the video to go with this post, but my ‘Why’ was to help others (and myself) feel inspired to create, regardless of what others may think, regardless of the boundaries of social media and purely because the creation has been a joyful activity to do. If I hadn’t posted it, I wouldn’t have helped anyone.
Screw The Algorithm
Next, I want to draw some creepy cute monsters in my Steampunk Gothic style. Just for a change. Yes, I care whether people will start to wonder why I’m not drawing beautiful characters in cool quirky costumes, but… I get bored. I want to create cute creepy cute monsters for me and so… I shall!
You see, I think these days we get too wrapped up in performing for social media platforms. We’ve started to let artificial intelligence dictate what we create (Yep, that’s what an algorithm is. It’s essentially AI). Yet, isn’t human creativity worth more than that?
Shouldn’t we (the creatives) decide be the masters of new content because after all, humans are unpredictable. They may react a way to a piece of content that the algorithm can’t predict. So by following social media ‘rules’ and letting them restrict what we post, we are actually depriving our fellow humans of the unexpected content that could be a catalyst for positive change. The content that could save a life. The content that inspires someone else to write a song… and so the chain continues.
So next time you find yourself considering what you should create to satisfy artificial intelligence, pause and remember that you’re actually creating for humans.
It Is Your Duty To Create
It is the creative’s purpose on this earth to create, to inspire thought, to stimulate ideas.
Read that again…
It is the creative’s purpose on this earth to create, to inspire thought, to stimulate ideas.
Not everyone can do this. Not all humans are born with the ability to make something out of nothing, or to see the world through multi-coloured lenses. Many people only see black and white.
They need you to show them the colours.
Creating and sharing that creativity is giving back to the community. You inspire thought. You write songs that help people through tough times. You draw art that evokes memories. You give people a moment of peace in a busy, frantic world.
So by holding back and not publishing your work, you are leaving all those people hanging. You could go as far as to say it is your duty to your fellow humans to share your work.
What’s The Worst That Can Happen?
Let’s get real. What is the worst that can happen if you share your work?
Some doucebag writes a nasty comment about it, or some slug sitting on their couch eating french fries in their undies gives you a thumbs down?
Bah! If it bothers you that much, just delete the haters and block them from seeing your content ever again! Their loss.
One thing I’ve learned is that people who unsubscribe or give me a thumbs down after I post something aren’t my fans anyway. So I’m not going to give them my focus.
Its very easy to sit back behind the screen and pass judgement on others. Its quite another to be the one out there, putting in the hard work and creating content for others to enjoy and be inspired by.
Over time you grow a thicker skin.
You just have to stay focused on the big picture. What will happen if you do keep posting? Eventually you will find your tribe. Yes I know that’s a marketing catch term at the moment, but it describes the situation well.
You will find people who resonate with your work. You will improve the more you post, and you open yourself up to opportunities.
Did you like this post?
I’d love to know if you’ve ever held back on sharing your creative work, and why you felt hesitant to press ‘post’ and if you managed to move past it. Let me know in the comments below.
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Peruse my friend so you do not lose, the chance to discover something new.
Carina & Jack
Commission piece for Carina & Jack. I turned this lovely couple into Steampunk/ Gothic characters. See the creation process here.
Creativity Is Selfless.
If you’ve ever thought that needing time and space to create was being selfish…. think again. Creating something and sharing it with the world can be one of the most selfless acts you can do. It today’s video, we’ll explore why.
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My list of the best and worst drinks for singers – What to drink and what to avoid to keep your voice in top condition when singing.
Down, down, down in the deep…. A dark poem about mermaids. No pretty seashells or Disney songs here….
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I love to write poems and I also sing lot
But no opportunities yet .
Keep sharing, keep working and never give up!
It’s such a helpful post you shared thank you so much sometimes we know that fear of Failure is stopping us from doing anything important but we still don’t do it after listening to you it really gave me strength and from today onwards no more fear of failure life is too short Sis to dual upon that thanks again I am a great fan of yours love whatever you post thanks again
Thank you so much Khalid!
This post is so spot on and everything I needed to hear today.
I have not only held back from posting and sharing my art online, I have blatantly deleted VOLUMES OF MY CREATIVE WORK, out of fear of what others thought and second guessing myself.
Your post really hit home and inspired me. I also love that you are a multicreative like me. For so long I felt I had to choose 1 artistic path in order to be on brand, successfull or understood by others. But that just made me feel unhappy and limited.
So thank you for fulfilling your duty to share your art regardless of all the fear and judgement and inspiring me to do the same. You’re amazing
I hear you. Being multicreative is a blessing and a curse. I STILL struggle with sharing both my music and my art together and wonder frequently if I should separate them. I think it’s easier to find ways to combine them into one because after all, both are part of what makes you, you.
Thanks for this Nicola, I needed this reminder today. It’s easy to look at singing (and creativity) as something aesthetic but it really is so much more than that, it is mental, physical, spiritual and emotional stuff all wrapped up in one little package.
Often when I start singing my self-critical voice starts and I really struggle to be present. It’s like I become an on-looker who is judging someone else. However, when I actually watch other singers I’m never so critical! How do you quieten this voice ?
Thanks for sprinkling your creative confidence in YouTube, it’s been a big inspiration for me 🙂
You’re so welcome Heidi! I’m really glad you are enjoying the videos and yes, I agree; we’re all very self critical!