Creativity is a balancing act, but it is also a show of strength, so size matters. This balance, this contest of strengths requires an opposite, a counterpoint, and that counterpoint can be found in fear. It goes by other names as well, some choose to call it resistance, or procrastination, and sometimes writer’s block, but at the core they are all a variation on fear. What is feared and the degree of it varies, but it is this fear that must be balanced out and defeated for creativity to triumph.
Here is where it gets tricky, and why size matters more than you might think in this battle between two very human forces. When we think of two balanced opposing forces, we think of evenly matched adversaries; that is how balances work. But I’m sorry to inform you that fear doesn’t play fair. Either fear is a denser and heavier creature than creativity, which is why it so easily weighs you down, or perhaps it has simply studied the laws of physics carefully to get itself more leverage and have a stronger effect. Fear takes a lot more than a balanced force to beat.
To guarantee a win against this negative, you need to do more than put in a satisfactory effort, or even a healthy competition of positive. Instead, you need to completely decimate and overwhelm the fear with your creativity, only then will your schemes succeed over those of fear’s. Your success will usually be in direct proportion to how overboard you go.
There are some fathomable reasons for fear’s disproportional strength over our hearts and minds, and they come down to two aspects that both fear and creativity share, that of imagination and emotion. Imagination is the content of what we see in our mind’s eye, what we dream and what we hope, but also what we fear. And no piece of imagination is devoid of emotion. How visceral and tangible that emotion is, decides how clearly and how honestly we imagine what we do. What we imagine and the strength of the related emotion can be both in the direction of fear or of creativity. The reason fear often wins is that what fear imagines is often so much more concrete and basic, and the feelings attached so much stronger.
The common subjects of fear are extremely real and go down to our simplest instincts for survival. Death, disease and destitution are practical things that stare us in the face on a regular basis, either overtly or on the fringes of our experience, making them difficult to dismiss without adequate force of will and hope. Hope comes in the form of our creativity, the things we wish to build, to do, to achieve and the strength of emotion with which we think about them. The scale of these dreams and hopes and the raw feeling behind them must massively outweigh those of our fears for us to ignore them, loosen their power over us, and get the ball rolling towards the positive side of this equation.
If you want to be creative, if you want that positive bent of mind, that urge to create anew and imagine fresh possibilities to define your being, dream big, think big, imagine at scales never imagined before. Then inject that imagination with a strength of feeling few reasonable people would dare dabble in, because there is no moderation in this contest. If you give in to being reasonable, you lose, and fear wins another easy victory.
There is a further warning to heed. If you are trying to do anything that is even mildly creative, you need to deal with not only your own fears but also those of others, for you see fear is quick to recruit allies. Eventually, someone you care about and who cares about you is bound to advise you in all seriousness and in utter concern that you must be reasonable in the things you wish for, hope for, and work towards. If you’re serious about your dreams, I can offer only one piece of advice: Smile, say no to them nicely, if an answer is required, and go out there and be us unreasonably creative as you can be.