Day 20: Choosing to Embrace Fear

by | Aug 10, 2016

As artists, most of us probably have a lot of things we want to say. We’ve got Big Ideas that we want to communicate to our actors, to our production teams, to our audiences and to the world.

But sometimes we have an exciting idea for a project, and we just sit on it.

We wait. We’re too busy, or perhaps we need to do more research to prepare. We tell ourselves we’ll start next week, and then we work on something else more pressing…or we watch a show on Netflix.

Instead of daring to get started, we hesitate.

Why do we do this with projects we’re passionate about? Why do we silence the very ideas we hope to communicate?

In his excellent book, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles, Steven Pressfield talks a lot about this.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, a modern classic.

“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign.

Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do.

Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.

Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of Resistance. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That’s why we feel so much Resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there’d be no Resistance.”

(The War of Art, p. 40)

He explains, “The professional tackles the project that will make him stretch. He takes on the assignment that will bear him into uncharted waters, compel him to explore unconscious parts of himself. Is he scared? Hell, yes, he’s petrified…. So if you’re paralyzed with fear, it’s a good sign. It shows you what you have to do.” (p. 40-41)

So that project that you keep procrastinating on out of fear? What if you just took a small step and got started? What if you called a potential collaborator and asked to meet for coffee to discuss your idea? This one brave step of sharing your vision with someone could set off a domino effect propelling your project forward.

“Ah, but when we begin.

When we make a start.

When we conceive an enterprise and commit to it in the face of our fears, something wonderful happens. A crack appears in the membrane. Like the first craze when a chick pecks at the inside of its shell.”

(p. 123)

What have we got to lose? Let’s take on the projects that will force us out into uncharted waters and see where the creative process leads!

Jenny MontgomeryJenny Montgomery is a stage director who focuses on plays that explore themes of transcultural connection. Originally from the U.S, she has lived in Québec since 2009, when she moved there for a Fulbright grant to create a bilingual play from interviews with immigrants, Québécois and people in between cultures. Déraciné explored cultural belonging, identity and concepts of “home,” and these themes continue to inform her work.

Photo at left by Guy Langevin.
Photo at top of page by Tertia Van Rensberg, via unsplash.


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