Tackling a Few of My Creative Fears

Yesterday evening, I read Goddess Leonie’s post on having creative courage, and it got me thinking about all the creative things that are intriguing or calling to me–some of which I’ve done before–that I don’t do now because I’m afraid I won’t be “good at it.”  I talked a little to my best friend, when she called for our week’s end catch-up, about the foremost of these: painting, especially on the canvases that have been languishing in my closet, still in their plastic wrap, since I bought them in September last year.  (Nope, I still haven’t painted those paintings.  I chickened out, afraid that I could not make what was in my mind’s eye come out my hands.)

Since this is my year to bloom, it occurred to me that one way I could do that was to do those creative things that intrigue me and call to me by facing my fear of not doing them perfectly.  Actually, that would kill two birds with one stone:  learning new creative skills (or deepening existing ones or renewing rusty ones), and facing down my problem with perfectionism (specifically, that I let it run amok).

So, over the past 24 hours or so, I’ve come up with a list of these things to do (some more immediate than others):

  • Paint again.  I used to paint in watercolor quite often, but that gradually tapered off and sometime in the last couple of years died completely.  I have trouble wanting the paintings to look a certain way, like a professional artist did them, and being angry with myself when I feel I’ve screwed up.  I’ve forgotten the childish joy and abandon of wielding paint brushes.  I’ve forgotten that the only way to learn is to do in this case, and that even Dali (my favorite of the “famous” painters) took some time to learn and develop a style.  I’m particularly hesitant to “mess up” a canvas, even though the longing to paint on one is very strong.  So I bought a drop cloth today and I’m going to break out one of the canvases tomorrow and paint whatever comes.  Yes, yes I am.
  • Keep an art journal.   In cruising around the interwebs, I’ve happened across some really cool art journals.  The idea I really like.  In a way, I used to do this when I was a teenager.  Sometimes the things I wanted to express came easier to me in images than words, and I mainly drew or used color pencils or pastels.  During university, I stopped.  First comparison of my art against those with formal training took root, then my raging perfectionist streak took it a step further.  Again, things weren’t coming out of my hands the way I wanted them to.  I had ideas that each drawing had to be a certain way.  I stopped just doing it for its own sake, for just expression, to play with color and shape and light.  I’m going to remedy this, too.  I bought a faux leather, unlined journal for that purpose today as well, and on the cover I placed a scrapbooking plaque I already had, which reads “play.”  That’s what I want art journaling to be about.
  • Learn to knit and crochet.  I have friends in far-flung locales who are knitting and crocheting up a storm.   For me, my interest in knitting and crochet really began with a desire to keep my hands busy.  If my hands are busy they’re not shoving junk food into my mouth, for one.   (This was years ago.)   Then I started seeing the really cool things being made by knitters and crocheters, things beyond the standard scarves and blankets, like adorable stuffed animals, for example.  That did it!  But, I’ve been arguing with myself.   I don’t really have anyone local with the time to teach me.  I have a friend here who used to crochet, but she has little time for that these days with a one year old and a three year old running around the house, both very active, very inquisitive, very mischievous little boys.  I may suck at it, anyway.  I solicited book recommendations from several sources, and read Amazon reviews, seeking one beginning book on crochet and one on knitting.   Today I decided on them.  I ordered The Chicks With Sticks Guide to Crochet and Stitch ‘N Bitch:  The Knitter’s Handbook.  I’m going to read up, then go select my necessary tools and get to practicing.  (I will probably learn crochet first, because I think it would be easier to control one hook than two needles, but I will keep the jury out until I read the introductory parts of both books.)
  • Learn to play guitar.  Yes, there is a bad ass, rebellious rocker chick hiding in the back corridors of my mind, fascinated with my Dad’s ’67 Kay vintage electric guitar.  First things first, though, I’d like to learn on an acoustic.  (My Dad actually only ever played a little bit in a garage band, rhythm guitar, and he’s forgotten.   I have an inner folk goddess, too, and she’s much closer to the surface, and I hear that acoustics shred the beginner’s fingers less.  There is a problem of lessons, as in, I don’t know of anyone who gives them here, so I will probably defer this one until I move away, but I felt I should acknowledge it.
  • Learn the left hand chords for piano, and how to use the pedals.  Yes, in the days of middle school through my first year of university, I could pick out melodies on piano.  I can read music.  I know where the keys are.  With a bare minimum of instruction from a music teacher in fifth grade and a little bit of help from my aunt, I picked up the playing, and reading music advanced with my experiences in choir during high school and the first two years of university.  Most songs ended up being played more slowly than they were intended, but that was a function of my lack of diligence in practice.   This is one that will have to wait until I move, and until I can at least afford a good quality keyboard, but it comes along with the I-want-t0-but-I’m-afraid-I’ll-suck territory.
  • Write fiction again.  I’ve been over this before in many posts in many places for years.  I’m always afraid it’s not good enough and throw it aside before the stories are even started.  It’s ridiculous.  I even tackled one of the blocks behind this bugbear last month.  It’s time to get back on the horse, to write the story to an end and then worry about whether it’s good. 

This is the time of taking deep breaths and diving in.  On some level, I think if I can tackle my creative fears and perfectionism, I’ll maybe have a blueprint to work with in tackling the fears and perfectionistic tendencies cropping up and hindering me in other areas of my life.  These creative things are, in the grand scheme of things, low risk (when it comes to life, limb, and livelihood, anyway), which makes them the best place to start.

Also, I’ve fallen into a sort of seasonal fugue state where days are lost because they’re so grey and monotonous.  I’m hoping artistic endeavors will breathe light and color into them.

So what creative thing(s) are you scared of, but itching to try?  Why don’t you try it/them?  We’ll try these things that scare us together.

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