Why is creative anxiety even a thing?

May 9, 2021 | Mental Health

The mind can be frustrating sometimes. We have beautiful, complex minds capable of fantastic things. Yet, when some of us want to express our creativity, we encounter anxiety or panic. We feel pressure, and we can become depressed. 

Why in the world does this happen? Well, it turns out that creative anxiety is pretty common, even among the most successful of popular artists.

What can we do about creative anxiety?

Singer and songwriter John Mark McMillan recently shared a post on Facebook that goes like this: 

“Anxiety. I try to control my world and since that is SUPREMELY not possible … I get anxiety. … Not to be irresponsible or dismissive, but I’m realizing when I ‘let go’ of my ideals and ego, I also become much better at holding onto what I actually have — And that’s beautiful.”

This is from someone who is very creative and very successful. Regardless of what type of art you make, if you’re feeling anxiety because of your ego or what you want to control, you may want to try to let go like McMillan did:

  • Stop comparing yourself to others — It’s easy to see amazing things other people are doing around the world thanks to the internet. However, all this exposure can leave us feeling intimidated, inadequate or untalented.

    Stop comparing yourself to others online and start focusing on your own skills, talent and creativity. Make something for the sake of making it, not because you want to impress others.

  • Create for the right reasons — Perhaps you have creative anxiety because you’re creating for the wrong reasons. If you’re creating for fame or money, you put a lot of pressure on yourself that ends up being stressful and unfulfilling.

    Create because you love creating and love to share it, not because you need it to validate yourself.

  • Stay true to yourself — Creating for other people’s pleasure or trying to cultivate an image that isn’t genuine can be tiring and stressful. When creating, stay true to yourself and practice true expression.

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