Rob Provencher, a photographer I admire and the co-founder of No BS Photo Success wrote those words, and they really struck a chord with me.
This has been a powerful theme in my life over the last year. I learned it through photography and I think it’s useful far beyond capturing images. It really can be boiled down to that bumper sticker: Fear Kills Creativity.
Over the past year, I’ve gone through periods of terrible, boring, uninspired work (work that could land me a job shooting for a department store portrait studio). I’ve also had periods when I was continually surprising myself with the quality and creativity in my work.
What made the difference?
FEAR. Fear of failure, of under-performing, of embarrassment. That fear pre-occupies your mind. Makes it unavailable for close concentration and focused attention on a problem.
The same lesson is repeated in my Toast Masters public speaking group; a principal they keep in their manuals and guides. Your speech will be so much better if you focus on your involvement in the subject matter, rather than turning inwards, pre-occupied by your anxieties.
I know, and you all know, that there are many other ingredients to creativity: work from your passion, steep yourself in it, seek creative ideas during your most energetic time of day, … but I’m talking about the most powerful one; one which I have had vividly demonstrated to me in my own life. Pre-occupation sounds too mild to describe it, because the inspiration and flow of creative ideas that comes with putting fear and self-doubt (even temporarily) behind you is very very powerful!
BELIEVE in your ability to approach creative endeavours resourcefully and you will be creative. You will delight and surprise yourself.
I have learned that the best route to creativity, the most essential element, is an unwavering confidence that you will find solutions to creative problems.
OK, it’s fine for me to say, you just need confidence in your work, in your abilities.
How do you get there?
Preparation and practice. ….and follow that up with evaluation or critique by your peers.
You have to produce a large body of work before you don’t suck anymore. You may start out with great, discerning taste and a beautiful, inspired vision in your head – but without the expertise and talent to pull it off as well as you had imagined it. It can be painful to look at your own early efforts. You have to get those mistakes made now and put them behind you.
Preparation, practice, evaluation. If you think about it, I’m sure you’ll find many areas in your life where the same simple principles will work for you too.