Fear of the Unknown: Why Creatives Fear Habit


Shannon Shannon Callarman
My writing sucks. No one will ever read this. Why am I wasting my time?

There are so many reasons why writers are the biggest procrastinators.

They tend to hide behind the excuse that writing is just a hobby. That way, they don’t have to invite criticism in. After all, it is just a hobby. And if it takes weeks, maybe even months, to get back to actually writing, then that’s okay, because hobbies don’t have to be habitual.

But what about if a writer courageously makes writing a habit, therefore earns the identification of being a writer?

That is a scary thing, to be identified for your creative role. When a creative hobby turns into a creative habit, the creative process changes. No longer are you just “doing it for fun,” you’re making a life out of it.

But living a life as a creative comes with obstacles. When we decide to take creative work seriously, it opens the floodgates of criticism, inevitably pouring out, even when we don’t ask for it.

For instance.

It is safe to call myself a full-time writer at a marketing agency. In the morning when I wake up I work on my own creative writing. But then I head to work and I write about manufacturing instead. Metal stamping, 3D printing, and the largest industrial park in the United States. Manufacturers depend on us to write case studies, blog articles, website copy, and other marketing and sales pieces.

Client projects, with my words on them, are shown to colleagues for internal review, then sent to an out-of-house proofreader, and then to the client for final review. Every single time I’m given a new assignment, I leap into full-panic mode and question if I can even do this.

No one ever told me, that, the leap into creative habit comes with a tremendous burden — fear.

Fear holds me back from even getting started. I wonder, every time, if I can actually write. Maybe I’m just an imposter; they’ll figure me out soon, eventually.

But then I think about fear and how ugly, boring, nasty and insignificant it really is. Listening to fear is as cowardly as asking someone else to kill the spider crawling on your floor for you. Fear is small and you have all the power over it. So why are we so responsive to fear? Why do we listen to it?

Fear is an emotion that warns us of emotional danger. It’s telling us that we are about to enter into vulnerability.

Fear is just doing it’s job and there is no need to kill the messenger. But to successfully leap into a creative habit with confidence and embrace vulnerability fully, you have to ignore the warning signs and take a risk. Push your emotional bodyguard to the side, and leap into creative habit, blissfully.

Elizabeth Gilbert, the writer of Eat, Pray, Love once said:

“Fear is boring, because fear only ever has one thing to say to us, and that thing is: ‘STOP!’”

Creatives who respond to “stop” never get started in the first place. Fear is the overprotective mother who isn’t allowing you to have any fun. But you’re the responsible adult now; you have a right to step into the unknown, even if it’s scary at first.

Be the rebel. Be the one willing to take a risk and leap launch into a creative life. Make something worth making. And don’t worry about how the world will respond.


1 thought on “Fear of the Unknown: Why Creatives Fear Habit

  1. Hi Shannon,

    That was a fantastic post! I completely understand how easy it is to let, fear become a permanent stop sign. It is what separates successful writers from those of us that just can’t seem to have enough faith in ourselves. I agree push past the junk and join the success stories. It’s already in us.

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