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Art and fear go hand in hand

Fear is normal in the creative process. Here are some of the most popular fears related to making art:

  • What am I doing?

  • Who do I think I'm kidding?

  • Who, me? Make art? Hahaha

  • No one will like it.

  • It won't be good.

  • I'm not an artist, I'm a phony.

  • I'm only a…(mom, crafter, dabbler, etc).

  • There are so many great, "real" artists out there.

  • I'm just not talented.

  • I've missed my chance.

These are just some of the things we think to ourselves when we venture into the scary world of making art.

So why do we do it? Why are we drawn to it?

"Making art gives substance to your sense of self." from the book, Art and Fear: Observations on the perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, by David Bayles.

I agree. It does give substance to the self but it shouldn't become the self.

Our fear, according to Mr. Bayles, "Is that you’re not up to the task — that you can’t do it, or can’t do it well, or can’t do it again; or that you’re not a real artist or not a good artist, or have no talent, or have nothing to say. The line between the artist and his / her work is a fine one at best, and for the artist it feels (quite naturally) like there is no such line. Making art can feel dangerous and revealing. Making art is dangerous and revealing. Making art precipitates self-doubt, stirring deep waters that lay between what you know you should be, and what you fear you might be. For many people, that alone is enough to prevent their ever getting started at all — and for those who do, trouble isn’t long in coming. Doubts, in fact, soon rise in swarms."

I have definitely been swarmed by doubt and fear all along this journey. The wonderful thing about this book is that it normalizes fear in relation to making art. Of course, you are scared, it says, you're making art! This has helped me because somewhere along the way I acquired the idea that if I was meant to create art I wouldn't be so scared.

The key to making art (and maybe everything worthwhile in life) is to NOT GIVE UP. You can stop for a while - I have - but you can't quit!

As Bayles puts it:

"Quitting is fundamentally different from stopping. The latter happens all the time. Quitting happens once. Quitting means not starting again — and art is all about starting again."

By the way, I have a link to this gem of a book here.

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