How to Overcome Creative Anxiety and Use it to Your Advantage

By: Shae LaPlace

People in all kinds of professions face the fear of rejection. Those of us in creative fields are asked to set our creative anxiety aside, and bare all in order to get a job. So, how do we overcome the creative anxiety? And once we’re able to overcome it, can we use it to our advantage? Overcoming any challenge begins with acknowledging it. Only then can we manage it, and hopefully find ways it can benefit us, rather than hinder us. 

If you have creative anxiety you might find yourself wanting to apply for jobs, but being afraid to share your portfolio or your body of work. If you’re anything like me, the fear can even prevent you from submitting the application all together. Clearly, this sort of reaction to creative anxiety is counter productive. If you never let anyone see the work, you block yourself from receiving the positive feedback that you need to hear. 

Accept that the only way to overcome the fear is by risking the rejection. So, how do we prepare ourselves for potential rejection? One thing that can be effective is reminding yourself why you do your art. No matter what creative field you find yourself in, there is a reason you do what you do. Regardless of the outcome, there’s value in the way your express yourself. Whatever the work may be, it reflects a part of you. The value of such a risk, is in the way your art impacts others. The reward, and the relief are not possible without the fear and risk. 

The next thing that we have to remember is to be gentle with ourselves. Creative Anxiety is something that is often rooted from self deprecation. Our creative anxiety, like other anxiety, is protection mechanism in our brain. It is an attempt to let us know, through our nervous system, that there is a potential threat. It is what sparks the feeling that we need to self critique. We are protecting ourselves from negative feedback. But as artists, we cannot allow the opinion of a few people stand in our way. However, this is where we can find a potential way to use these fears to our advantage. 

The anxiety comes from caring about the quality of our work. Being invested in the excellence of what you do is never a bad thing. Use that drive for perfection to fine tune the art to its highest level. Then, we have to find a way to trust that the work is done, and that we have created to the best of our ability. The key is as simple as reminding yourself that your anxieties allow you to see the mistakes, and make improvements, to make the best work you possibly can.

Now the anxiety that was causing you to feel too vulnerable when sharing your work, is the reason you can trust that your work is the very best it can be. Once we can trust that the work is done, the anxiety changes from an obstacle to a tool. Having creative anxiety doesn’t have to mean settling for unfulfilled goals. We can prevent ourselves from allowing the fear to be a defining factor. Ultimately, there is power to be found in the things that scare us, and its up to us to find it, and harness it.