Do One Thing

I’ve been cross-stitching for years, but most of it goes out the door – as in a gift for someone else or in a drawer for framing later. It doesn’t feel right to take up our precious wall space (of which there is little) to hang a stitched piece I’ve already stared at and stabbed through for a month. 

I’m keeping this one, though, because it’s a good reminder for the days ahead. This is a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt and my stitching is an example of imperfection, another reason to keep it. 

I’m working on a writing project that seems like my “one thing” every morning when I sit down to work on it. It brings up memories, questions, and doubts. Also, writing memoir is hard – and scary. I’m not sure that forging ahead and doing that scary thing means the fear subsides, but I’m learning how to greet it, welcome it into the process, and politely ask it to sit down and be quiet. I mean, it’s not going anywhere, so best to acknowledge its presence. 

We keep talking about this because fear is a big reason for turning our backs on a creative project. Fear tells us there are more reasons not to start it, or continue it, and that we should just go shopping, watch Hulu, clean the basement. Anything but write. So, how do we sit with fear while we do a scary thing?

  • Don’t fight it. Fear might walk away for a minute, but it will return, so don’t spend precious energy on it. 
  • Remind yourself that all creative people have fears: fear of judgment, fear of failure, fear of success (yes, that’s a thing), fear of looking foolish. 
  • Build up your tolerance for fear: do one thing, every day, that scares you. Thanks, Mrs. Roosevelt! But maybe “scare” is the wrong word. Do something that makes you uncomfortable. Take a new route to work (this is good for the brain, also), talk to the barista, go to a movie or museum alone, attend an open mic night (maybe take the mic?), read to children at your local elementary school. 
  • Start your project and tell someone you trust about it. Admit to them you are a little scared. Now you have someone who can share the fear with you. 

Most of the time, our fears are calmed when we know we’re not alone. Creativity always takes courage, so be assured there are a million other souls out there right now who have come to the blank screen or notebook with trembling hearts. It’s normal. But if you want to write, paint, play an instrument, or tackle any creative project, you should go ahead and welcome fear into the room. He will show up uninvited anyway. 

Write on! 

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