How to Become a Creator

Emily Holbrook


December 1, 2011

It's an unfortunate fact: Fear keeps most people from pursuing their passion. But embracing this fear and using it as fuel for high-level creativity and innovation is essential for creative success. Time after time, however, people run for cover when signs of impending creative genius manifest themselves. According to author Jonathan Fields, creatives (such as writers, musicians or entrepreneurs) are frightened by their own ideas and motivations due to a lack of helpful input from colleagues and mentors as well as their own training.

Referencing several popular books on the creative process and drawing from his own experiences, Fields says that judgment, feedback and criticism are good, though often experienced as pain. "All that angst surrounding it is just emotional sludge, the by-product of tactless delivery or the creator's own hang-ups," writes Fields. "Creators need data."

Fields also believes that anger, depression and sorrow are beautiful things in a story, but they act as poison to creativity. So how do creators rid themselves of such negative feelings? Fields tackles that question in his chapter on "attentional training," a term for techniques, such as meditation or yoga, used to create calming changes in your brain. Citing numerous studies in medical journals, he gives good reason why AT is the most effective practice in "steeling the creator against the fear and anxiety that ride along with the uncertainty of creation."

Uncertainty also explores what drives people to create, when to soldier on and when to walk away. Another insightful discussion centers on the potentially destructive impact of a creative endeavor that can easily consume every aspect of one's life -- and how that can be used to either inspire or derail a creative quest.

Uncertainty never goes away. It will always be present in some form, but how to recognize these moments of fear and indecisiveness and deal with them is what separates the creatives in name only from those who actually create.
Emily Holbrook is the founder of Red Label Writing, LLC, a writing, editing and content strategy firm catering to insurance and risk management businesses and publications, and a former editor of Risk Management.