The 6 Most Common Fears of Content Creators: Smash Them Today!

Fear motivates creatives to keep going, but too much is debilitating. Find a middle-ground.

Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

At the start of his career, George Carlin followed the style of other top comedians like the Smothers Brothers and Johnny Carson.

After achieving modest success, he worried he was nothing more than a derivative entertainer instead of an artist. He knew the world already had a Johnny Carson and the Smothers Brothers.

Carlin exposed parts of his inner life that most people keep hidden. He introduced what many saw as offensive bits into his acts and his comedy album FM and AM, released in 1972.

At first, those close to Carlin couldn’t understand his darker, edgy, creative direction.

He told his then-wife Brenda, “I’m going to be the person on the outside that I’ve been on the inside my whole life.”

Some fans turned away from Carson, but he found a niche of fans who loved his new creative works. His comedy albums FM and AM and the follow-up Class Clown peaked at number 22 and 13 on the Billboard Charts, a career-high for Carlin.

In Class Clown, Carlin riffed on Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television, as an entertainer. He performed the bit on his live shows and the radio.

Such notoriety captured the attention of Carlin’s ideal audience.

George Carlin via Kevin Armstrong, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons

A New York man heard a bit from his new edge routine on WBAI radio and complained to the FCC. The FCC declared his performance as “indecent” and “offensive”.

The WBAI fought against this warning, and the case went all the way to the Supreme Court. In 1978 the Supreme Court found in the FCC’s favor.

Carlin took particular delight in the idea of nine members of the Supreme Court listening to his “filthy words” routine. Such notoriety was a bone to Carlin’s career, and ruling made the front page of the Los Angeles Times. A July 3, 1978, edition of the paper led with “Court Bans 7 Dirty Words”.

Carlin faced his fears. His album sales skyrocketed, and he became one of the biggest comedians of the 1970s and 1980s.

You can too.

1. I Don’t Know Where To Start

Telling someone to “create content” is a tough commandment.

I know because that’s what they told me.

For years, I couldn’t start. I’d open up my word processor and then switch to my internet browser for research.

I’d answer my email or see if there was something I wanted to buy on Amazon. Afterwards, I’d check my bank balance and feel depressed.

It went on like this until I disappeared down a rabbit hole of meaningless internet searches and doing anything but creative work.

Then, I learned how to start by creating triggers for creative work. These include:

  • brewing coffee
  • setting a timer for how long I want to write
  • disconnecting from the internet

My creative routine involves doing this at the same time each evening or morning. As a reward, I browse the internet, watch a movie, or exercise. It’s ritual, and it means I need not think about the act of starting.

To the outsider, this ritual looks boring, but it helps me write. That’s more exciting than anything else I could do in my free time.

Strategy For Facing This Fear:

If you’re having trouble starting, remember: It’s your job to turn up and do the work. Steven Pressfield writes in the War of Art:

We’re facing dragons too. Fire-breathing griffins of the soul, whom we must outfight and outwit to reach the treasure of our self-in-potential and to release the maiden who is God’s plan and destiny for ourselves and the answer to why we were put on this planet.”

Once you’ve learned how to turn up and work on your craft each day, consider it a victory to create for ten minutes without getting distracted.

The next day, aim for fifteen minutes. The day after, write for twenty minutes.

Let these small personal victories accumulate over time, and you will become the type of content creator who never worries about a lack of ideas.

2. I’m Not Good Enough

Believing you need to acquire more skills is another irrational fear. It’s also a precursor to procrastination.

Did J.K. Rowling know enough about writing fantasy or creative writing when she set down to write the first Harry Potter book in her twenties?

Did Malcolm Gladwell know what it took when he set down to write Blink in the early 2000s?

Sure they’re talented, by they also improved their skills by doing the work.

Creating content consistently will help you hone your skills and find an audience.

Strategy For Facing This Fear:

It’s easier than ever to improve your content creation skills. You can easily study how top creators approach their craft by taking courses or deconstructing their work.

I also recommend hiring people to help you, once you can afford it.

You could work with an editor who will help you find and fix mistakes in your manuscripts, interviews or videos. Think of working with them as part of your training

3. They’ll Reject Me

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

Many new content creators fear failure and rejection. A few years ago, I wrote a book called The Power of Creativity.

While writing it, I was afraid others would say: “What right do you have to explain how to write about creativity?”

I also knew I’d spent hours researching proven creativity methods and techniques and studying how artists work. I’d read dozens of books by authors explaining how they work, and I knew enough to organize my thoughts into a book.

I gave myself permission to write a book because writers must start somewhere. The same applies for your podcast, video channel or content business.

Strategy For Facing This Fear:

Permit yourself to create. It doesn’t have to be a great article, video or podcast the first time around.

If this is difficult, remind yourself every content creator started somewhere and now is your time.

Write 500 words.

Pitch that guest.

Fire up your camera.

Hit record.

Press publish

4. I Can’t Finish

Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

Finishing is harder than starting.

When I was in my mid-twenties, I spent years struggling to finish anything. I wrote dozens of short stories and abandoned them. I thought of articles I wanted to write, and then I never finished them.

There wasn’t any moment when I learned how to finish my work and become a writer.

Instead, I got a job as a journalist writing for a newspaper. There, I had to finish my articles by a deadline because the editor would fire me if I didn’t.

I know this because he called me into his office after I missed a deadline and told me.

I stopped polishing my articles until they were perfect, and I finished them. On more than one occasion, my editor sent pieces to me, saying I’d left out an essential paragraph or my introduction needed reworking.

This criticism made me want to quit.

On other occasions, the sub-editors of the paper reworked my article entirely. Having my work being taken apart like this was brutal, but at least I was getting paid to write.

I learned from their feedback, and I learned by finishing what I started.

Strategy For Facing This Fear:

If you’re having trouble finishing your work, pick a target for each.

For a writer, it could be 500-words.

For a podcaster, it could be pitching five guests.

For a YouTuber, it could be recording ten minutes of video.

Set artificial deadlines and stick to them. Make a public commitment to a group of people you trust,

As you get into the habit of creating your work consistently, you will win more opportunities to gain critical feedback.

And a natural content creation process will evolve.

Feedback will give you the confidence to keep creating content.

5. They’ll Judge Me

When I first started writing, I worried what my mother would think if I wrote about sex or depression, money or lack thereof. I held back from using honest and personal stories in my work and hid behind statistics and research.

What’s to enjoy about revealing a job didn’t work out, I was lazy, and my work failed?

Then, I read this advice in Stephen King’s On Writing:

“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”

My mother wasn’t my ideal reader, and I was doing my work a disservice by holding back in case I offended her or another family member.

Although I stopped writing fiction, I started including more personal stories in work, and I even wrote a personally uncomfortable memoir about becoming a Dad unexpectedly at 24.

Strategy For Facing This Fear:

Spend more time creating content than doom scrolling.

Show the world what you created. And then let them judge a piece of your work in all its ugly imperfections. Respond if you need to, or move on.

To worry about negative judgments is an irrational fear for many new content creators.

But when you’re starting, your biggest problem is capturing the attention of readers, listeners, followers and fans.

And if you still find yourself procrastinating because of this fear, remember:

It’s better to face judgment than ignorance.

6. I Only Have So Many Good Ideas

Some creatives worry they’ve got a set amount of ideas, and they hold back from using all of their material in case they run out. In her autobiography, American country singer Roseanne Cash wrote,

“I have a fear that I have a personal quota, bestowed at birth, of first-rate songs allotted to me, and I worry, after every new song I write, that I have finally reached that magic number. So, inevitably, mixed with the satisfaction of accomplishment is anxiety and sadness that this might be the end.”

However, Cash pushes past these moments of self-doubt because she knows one great idea will unlock another one. She uses her fears to approach each new album with a beginner’s mindset. Anxiety and sadness are part of any creative project, but keep going, and you’ll punch through these low moments.

“The uncertainty is vexing, but it keeps me humble. I am always a beginner, again and again. I work, even when I worry.”

Strategy For Facing This Fear:

Put everything into your latest work. You can always take out what doesn’t work or reuse it for future projects during the editing process.

Remember that the well-spring of creativity runs deep. Ideas exist all around if you know where to look. If you feel empty at the end of a creative project, that’s a good sign.

It means you poured everything into it. But the bucket will quickly refill through practices like meditation, reading, visiting art galleries, journaling and other creative techniques.

You’re not going to run out of good ideas to turn into a book, a business venture or a rewarding project. The bigger problem is finding time and resources to work on them all.

Most prolific creatives cultivate an intense form of self-discipline that enables them to turn down working on a potentially good idea because it’s not taking them towards the top of their personal Everest.

Takeaway

Experiencing fear when engaged in creative work is a healthy sign. It indicates you’re ready to step outside of your comfort zone and push through to the next level, like George Carlin or Roseanne Cash.

It’s also motivating to step onto the verge of a fresh, exciting challenge.

Caveat:

Too much fear is debilitating.

Let’s say you want to quit your day job to create content full-time… and you also have a family to support.

Many new content creators are better off working on the sides of a day job that pays the bills, so they don’t have to worry about financial hardship. They can wake up early to work on their craft or put in the hours after work.

It’s all but impossible to enter a state of creative flow if the fridge is empty and you’re worried about a call from the bank manager.

Find a balance between stepping outside using fear as fuel versus taking reckless risks.

Tips

  • Ask yourself: What would I create if I wasn’t afraid?
  • Keep a file for your cut-offs. An idea might not work for this creative project, but you could potentially use it later on. Nothing goes to waste.

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Author of The Power of Creativity — Dublin — Advice @ http://becomeawritertoday.com — Join my newsletter @ http://bryancollins.com

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