Fear and anxiety and being more creative

“I don’t want to go to work with my eyes closed. I want to wake up and be scared. I like not knowing what to expect.” Charlize Theron

In a documentary about filmmaking, Theron commented about courage as an actor: “There is no formula that works. There is no guarantee.

“But as far as making choices on material, I just kind of think, well, it has nothing to do with me, so why not just go for it?

“That’s why, when people say, Why don’t you make safer choices, I say What is a safe choice? There really isn’t a safe choice in this industry. You never have a guarantee whether it’s going to work or not.

“And it takes a lot of courage to do that. So you better make sure, if it doesn’t work, that you walk away with something else, and that is the knowledge that you did it for a good reason.”

[From HBO documentary Boffo! Tinseltown’s Bombs and Blockbusters, June 2006.]

I like those quotes enough to have used them in the “Courage – Fear – Anxiety” section of my book Developing Multiple Talents: The personal side of creative expression
Kindle  //  Website

Photos and top quote from her official Facebook fan page.

Caption for pic with glasses: “Charlize’s favorite subject in school was English.”

She says she was bullied by classmates for her glasses and not having the perfect haircut and clothes. “I actually got a lot of the mean girl stuff from the ages of 7 to 12.” (People mag.)

Have you experienced bullying?

Being bullied affects many children, of course, but may have a particularly strong impact on creative and highly sensitive people. It may even be severe enough to be considered trauma.

See posts:

Lily Cole and gifted kids being bullied.

Dealing with trauma and abuse to live a bigger, more creative life.

But back to fear:

“I don’t do anything anymore that feels safe. If it doesn’t scare the crap out of you, then you’re not doing the right thing.”

I’ve always liked that comment by Sandra Bullock – but the quality and intensity of fear we call anxiety can both motivate, or disrupt, creative expression.

In his post “Turning Anxiety Into Creativity – Using what scares you to motivate you,” psychotherapist and mystery author Dennis Palumbo writes that “there is something to be said for accepting—and learning to navigate—the minor turbulences of life. I’m talking here about common, everyday anxiety. The jitters. Butterflies.

“This is particularly true for artists in Hollywood—writers, actors, directors, composers—whose very feelings are the raw materials of their craft.”

He adds, “These kinds of feelings are tough to deal with, to be sure, even if validated (and then gently challenged) by a supportive therapist, mate, good friend, or fellow creative type who’s ‘been there, done that.’ These deeply embedded, childhood-derived, seemingly inescapable Dark-Night-of-the-Soul feelings can, in fact, be crippling, regardless of your level of craft or years of experience.”

Palumbo thinks “struggling with these doubts and fears doesn’t say anything about you as an artist. Other than that you are an artist… The important thing to acknowledge, to accept and to make use of, is the fact of this anxiety — its weight, its size, and its implacability at this time in your life.”

Creativity coach Eric Maisel, PhD notes one way anxiety shows up for many people.

He asks in his book Mastering Creative Anxiety, “Are you creating less often than you would like? Are you avoiding your creative work altogether? Do you procrastinate?. That’s anxiety.”

From my post Creative Anxiety – Are You Procrastinating?

More posts:

Sensitive to anxiety – Being highly sensitive probably increases our vulnerability to anxiety.

Fear and being creative

Developing creativity: Fear is not a disease. “Fear is good. We view fear as a disease. It’s not a disease.” Psychologist Robert Maurer.

Elizabeth Gilbert on fear and creativity and mental health

Also see multiple posts on Anxiety/Stress


What do you think about these topics?