Ask my parents about my school years and you’ll probably see them grimace as they remember my perpetual procrastination. I would stress my mom out by announcing a major project was due the next day, and I hadn’t done anything in 3 months of prep time. We’d scramble, get it done, and then to her disbelief (and what she believed was a reward for bad behavior), I would get a good grade.
Later we discovered I am energized by short deadlines. It’s why I love public relations. There’s nothing I enjoy more than pulling a million pieces together and turning something around under pressure. Even if the result is less than desirable, I examine how I can do better and what I can learn for the next time.
However, my writing life is the opposite. At some point I bought into the lie that creativity is 90% inspiration and 10% perspiration. I allowed laziness and fear to distract me from doing my best creative work. I still do from time to time. After thinking over the last few months, I’ve discovered my procrastination is fueled by 7 fears/distractions:
1. What people will think. I’m constantly warring with my need to be liked and speaking what is on my mind. Fortunately (or unfortunately), as I age, I seem to be getting over it. But I still get scared.. I want people to think well of me. To see me as a relatively reasoned individual. So I mute true self and offer an edited version.
2. Sounding stupid. I don’t have a college degree. In fact, I dropped out of high school and took my GED. For years I was convinced my lack of education made me 10 percent dumber than everyone else. While I lack “formal education”, I’ve invested years in one organization and have worked my way from barista to lead publicist. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, but occasionally still fight feelings of inadequacy.
3. Being too vulnerable/not vulnerable enough. I am a hot, raging mess of emotion. Yet there are many times I’ve published something and been terribly afraid that if people read, they will think all sorts of crazy things about me or that I’ll end up on that Intervention show on A&E. (If this happens, I’m expecting a creative hashtag on Twitter.)
4. No one reading what I write. This is simply confession of a views/clicks obsession. I have had to teach myself to publish and walk away. I want to move people with my words. But my writing will suffer if it is driven by how many people visit my blog. At least that’s what I tell myself when I’m clicking refresh immediately after hitting publish.
5. Someone hating what I write. I am a woman of strong opinion and emotion. I don’t mind confrontation in person, but I hate it on the internet. I’m worried that no matter how many times I edit my posts, someone is going to hate my style and therefore hate me. Yes – this is the height of irrationality.
6. Being misunderstood. Similar to the above point – I want people to understand what I write. Therefore I try to be clear in my communication. Tone can get lost in text and there are times I’m worried that I haven’t clearly expressed myself or that I’ve embarrassed someone with my opinion. This happens to be the apex of narcissism and it drives me insane.
7. Pinterest I’ve decided Pinterest is where time and intentions die. How else do you explain logging in at 3 and looking up 2 minutes later to find it’s 4:30?
I realize my list is incredibly self-focused. But isn’t that what fear does? It is easy for our imaginations to be consumed with the unknown rather than actual experience. Fear pushes the boundaries of destructive self-obsession and robs you and those around you of what you truly have to offer.
Tomorrow I’ll talk about things I’ve done to deal with some of my fears, but I want to hear from you. How do you identify fear? What hinders your creativity? Does anyone know of a Pinterest support group?