What I Mean When I Say Fuck the Fear

When I was a kid, I used to read a lot of music magazines: Cream, Rolling Stone, gossip rags, really.

But there was one interview with Eric Clapton–a sentence actually–that utterly confounded me. The guitarist said that every day he woke up and wondered what he would get the blues about.

Why would someone as famous as Eric Clapton actively try to find something to depress him? I couldn’t figure it out. My confusion, so clear now, was a result of my own adolescence, my inexperience.

The blues are not not something you set out to get. They come to you.

Fear works the same way. You don’t have to worry about its visits. Fear is as timely as a train schedule. You may not see it yet, but somewhere down the tracks, it’s barreling toward your station.

My brain is the Grand Central of fear.

I’m afraid of starting. I’m afraid I won’t finish. I’m afraid at just about every stage in the process. That’s not to say there’s no joy along the way. Of course there is. But creative work is the culmination of thousands of small decisions, each branching off into hundreds and hundreds of possibilities. It would be unusual not to be overwhelmed.

So for me fuck the fear is not a declaration of liberation. It’s a affirmation, an acknowledgment that this fear will transform into that one followed by the next and on and on, and the best I can do is say, fuck it, I’m going to try and get some stuff done anyway.

(x-posted from fthef.com)

New Fuck the Fear Blog

I’ve started a little tumblr site to stash quotes and videos related to my Fuck the Fear talk. I still plan to do all of my writing here but I wanted a place to store all the snippets.

Check it out at FtheF.com.

An Invocation for Beginnings

ZeFrank's show is back. His first episode is full of gems like this:

Let me think about the people who I care about the most, and how when they fail or disappoint me I still love them, I still give them chances, and I still see the best of them. Let me extend that generosity to myself.

Watch the Invocation here.

Fuck the Fear at UNC Chapel Hill

Last Monday I had the pleasure of speaking at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill about fear and creativity.

Tracy Boyer Clark from Innovative Interactivity was kind enough to write a blog post about the talk.

My favorite part, she refereed to it as a “profanity-laced.” It’s true and I didn’t even realize it.

On a side note, I moved the Fuck the Fear resource list from its former home on a separate page to here.

photo credit: Chad Stevens

Fuck the Fear: Be Awesome Resources

Books on Creativity and Fear

Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking
by David Bayles and Ted Orland
The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp
The Collaborative Habit: Life Lessons for Working Together by Twyla Tharp
Do the Work by Steven Pressfield
Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon
The War of Art:Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield

The Gap

Ira Glass on Storytelling The host of NPR’s This American Life talks about the gap between out taste and our ability. This is part three of a four-part series. Part one starts here. Ira Glass on Storytelling by David Shiyang Liu, an animated version of Glass' talk.

Make Something Everyday

Focused Dabbling by Neven Mrgan

Stealing

Austin Kleon, author of Steal Like an Artist, also has a great blog and Tumblr site.
Everything is a Remix, a four-part video series about influence and appropriation by filmmaker Kirby Ferguson.
Inspiration vs. Imitation by Jessica Hische

A Few Things I Know To Be True

Three weeks ago I celebrated my 44th birthday. It’s been more than half-a-lifetime since that afternoon in high school when I realized with the clarity of a bell that I wanted a life filled with books and music and movies; I wanted to make stuff.

Here are a few things I've leaned in the ensuing years. Some I’ve come close to mastering. Others, well, let just say a bit more practice is in order.

No one will ever care as much about your art as you do. Only you can know enough to answer the tough questions, like, is it worth the effort?

Find someone who can teach you what you need to know and stick close.

Conversely, if you're not actively mentoring someone, you're doing your community a disservice.

When hiring others, find people who know more than you, then trust them to do their job.

There's always going to be someone better than you.

Other people's success is not a mark of your own failure.

Everyone, no matter how experienced, on some level is faking it. That is to say, no one knows exactly how their creativity works. We make up rituals. Mostly though, it's a mystery.

In the end, it comes down to love. If you love what you do, you'll find a way to keep doing it.

Fear & Art

I’m hardly a stranger to uncertainty and self-doubt. So picking up a copy of David Bayles and Ted Orland’s slim volume Art & Fear wasn’t a difficult choice.

I’ve just started but already the author’s have begun to catalogue many of the doubts that swirl in my head each time I begin a new project.

Here are some early gems on the necessity of failing:

“You learn how to make your work by making your work, and a great many of the pieces you make along the way will never stand out as finished art. The best you can do is make the art you care bout – and lots of it!”

“Basically, those who continue to make art are those who have learned how to continue – or more precisely, have learned how to not quit.”

What Now?

Two weeks ago, my short film Three Women premiered on MediaStorm. It was the culmination of three year's work and I can't think of a better home for it.

But now, I'm feeling just a little lost. The intensity of finishing Three Women has been replaced with uncertainty of what to do next.

It's times like these that it's important to remember that the creative process, from gestation to completion, is a cyclical one.

What has left will return.