by Cyncie Winter, Creativity Coach and Professional Artist
"If you are to create, you must invite anxiety in. But then you must manage it. If you can't manage this necessary anxiety, then you will block: and we can start right now to call creative blockage the inability to manage the anxiety that attends the creative process, for that is what creative blockage most often is." (Eric Maisel, Fearless Creating, xvii)
What? Invite anxiety Into my creativity? Add to my discomfort already? How can you ask me to do this?
Yes! Because, as Maisel says in his wonderful book, Fearless Creating,
anxiety is natural and normal. In fact, it is a guarantee that we will encounter it as artists and because of that, “It is our job to exclaim, ‘Both creating and not creating make me anxious, and I choose the anxiety of creating.’” (2) And if we can recognize what stage we are in of the creative process (there are six), we can also be aware of the anxiety that accompanies it, and how to feed that anxiety appropriately.
I had the distinct pleasure of studying creativity coaching with Eric during the year of 2011, and because of the work that I did with him, I now understand and welcome anxiety—as fuel for whatever I am creating.
The six stages of the creative process include the following: Wishing, Choosing, Starting, Working, Completing, Showing. Each stage has its own flavor of anxiety--states of mind--like Hungry Mind, Confused Mind, Critical Mind...and so on. If we feed those anxieties inappropriately, they grow larger. Conversely, if we find the right solution to address them, they actually help feed our creativity, helping it to grow and deepen.
In the next series of blogs, I will talk about Maisel's concepts--the stages of the creative process, the natural anxieties that arise them, and the proper ways to feed them. In the meantime, if you like, go ahead and get Maisel’s book and follow along with me, as we discuss these enormously helpful strategies.
Eric Maisel is the author of at least 40 books, which address the challenges of creativity, the importance of making meaning, and the field of natural psychology. He teaches Deep Writing workshops, Life Purpose Boot Camps, and is an international creativity coach and speaker. Here is a link to his website: http://ericmaisel.com/