Procrastination Robs Us From Doing Our Best Creative Work
Fear is the biggest enemy to creativity.
We’re born creative, but we learn to be afraid. After we’ve been hurt, wounded, scolded, rejected — we learn what pain feels like and we become afraid. We don’t want to do something that could cause the pain again.
Courage isn’t the absence of fear, it’s the ability to carry on even though we’re afraid.
I’ve hurt my shoulder badly twice over the years I’ve been a snowboarder. Once I tore my AC ligament that holds my collar bone down, and a few years later I broke my collar bone and had to have a metal plate put in to get the bone to set properly. But I still go snowboarding, even though I’m afraid of hurting myself again.
The same goes for creating something. We feel like frauds, we’re afraid nobody will care about what we do, or that they’ll reject it completely and call us bad names. And so we avoid making anything. Or, maybe we make something but it’s vanilla. It lacks character and personality. It’s our fear that keeps us from making anything of value.
There are many ways to overcome fear. Surely one of the best is to build up our courage. And we build up our courage by being courageous. By doing something in the midst of our fear – and the more we do that, the less afraid we are.
The very first time I went snowboarding after injuring my shoulder, I was timid. I took it slow. And slowly over time I got more and more courageous again.
The same goes for making. The more we show up and do the work, the more strength and courage we build up within to continue showing up to do the work.
There are four things vital to your success which you build by showing up every day to do your creative work
- Your skill set
- Your audience
Showing up consistently is the single most important aspect of a creative profession. Don’t wait for inspiration, don’t wait for the mood to strike, don’t fiddle with your tools. Just do it.
What is the best way to describe whatever it is we’re doing when we’re not doing what we’re supposed to be doing? Procrastination.
Procrastination is at direct odds with doing our best creative work.
- It robs us from gaining momentum in our projects.
- It lies to us, saying that we should work only when inspiration strikes.
- It has no intention of helping us hone our skills.
- It keeps us from doing our best creative work.
- It causes us to project a reputation of inconsistency, thus hindering our ability
to build an audience.
If fear is what keeps us from doing work that matters, procrastination is what keeps us from reaching our potential.
There are many ways to beat procrastination (which I cover in The Procrastinator’s Guide to Progress). But if I had to boil it all down to just one piece of advice — the first step toward beating procrastination in terms of doing something else instead of making and creating — I would say this:
Show up every day.
As in, carve out 30–60 minutes in your day. Every day. Make an appointment with yourself for when you’re going to create. Be it writing, playing music, painting, drawing, photography, or whatever it is you’re trying to create for the world.
Make that appointment and keep it. And when you’re there, put your phone on Do Not Disturb mode. Get earplugs or headphones. Go somewhere you won’t be distracted. Whatever it takes so you can spend the whole of your time making.
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