My Fear of Creativity
“Can you change the song?” my friend called from the kitchen, where he was busy grabbing himself a second glass of Hawaiian punch. “I’m tired of Taylor Swift.”
“Yeah sure, I feel that.” I replied. I put my bowl of the coconut curry he’d made us for dinner on the coffee table and reached for the TV remote. After briefly fumbling with the controls, I successfully changed Swift’s “Sparks Fly” to a pop song I didn’t immediately recognize. I instinctively nodded along to the beat of the song, overlaid with the bright, clear voice of a female singer I had definitely never heard before.
“Hey, this is great,” I said as my friend joined me on the couch. “What is this?”
“My friend’s newest release, actually,” he said.
“Really?” I said. “Talented friend. This is truly a bop.”
“Isn’t it?” he agreed.
We sat for a moment, listening to the song’s catchy melody and brilliantly executed vocal runs. I thought about how impressive it was that a girl around my age was able to write and produce such high-quality music. Despite having numerous musician friends who also regularly release music, the reality of writing and releasing something so personal to the world continues to astound me.
As the song faded out and into a new one, I turned to my friend and asked, “If one day I released a song and it was really bad, would you still like me?” He rolled his eyes.
“Obviously I would,” he said.
“Yeah, but you’d definitely tell me it was bad, right?” I continued. “And you’d probably think a little less of me as a person? Or at least as an artist?” This elicited another eye roll and a swig from his mug of Hawaiian punch.
“Yes, I would tell you if I didn’t like your song, but that doesn’t mean I would think you’re untalented. Art is subjective, not everybody is going to like what you create and that’s just how it works.”
This night, which occurred just over a week ago, is emblematic of my entire complex as a creator. I repeat my friend’s words to myself every time I sit down to attempt some sort of creative project, whether it be a song, a poem, or just a piece of writing for a class.
Art is subjective. Everybody creates bad art sometimes. The only way to get better is to at least try. These and a million other cliché statements swirl around in my head every time I find myself stuck and staring blankly at my laptop, with a mug of coffee or tea beside me to help “get me in the zone”,cooling off at an alarming rate. Logically, I know that both my friend’s words and my own inner monologue are correct. A writer is someone who writes, not someone who perseverates and procrastinates to the point of never putting words down on a page. Yet Imposter Syndrome sticks with me. As much as I console myself I question myself: Who cares about what you have to say? What makes you think your words are important?
I recently visited my childhood home and attempted to clean out the bin of old composition notebooks stashed behind my desk. Flipping through the pages, I read countless beginnings to unfinished novels about middle school drama, talking cats, and haunted houses. It made me remember that I used to be the kind of person who could start an idea even if I didn’t know where it was going or realized it was a little bit stupid. I don’t know exactly when I transitioned from someone who would write anything to someone too scared to even start most of the time, but I know I want to try and return to that former mindset. Because for every clunky section of dialogue, or melodramatic description, there was a scene that even now, I was genuinely impressed by.
As a wannabe creator struggling with stifling feelings of inadequacy, I know that I’m not in the position to be giving any sort of advice. To be honest, there’s nothing I can really say beyond the aforementioned clichéd statements. That being said, I feel it is helpful to recognize the fear inherent in being creative. Although it doesn’t necessarily solve the issue, it at least gives me something to write about.