How I Know When to Take a Creative Risk

By on Oct 24, 2013 in Risks and Passions | 1 comment

“The more important an activity is to your soul’s evolution, the more resistance you will feel to it…the more fear you’ll feel.” – Steven Pressfield

I heard this quote while watching author Steven Pressfield’s interview with Oprah Winfrey on her show “Super Soul Sunday.”  As I wait for my library’s copy of his book The War of Art, I’ve had time to think about Pressfield’s concept of creative resistance.  In the last few days, I’ve fashioned my own personal version of his quote:

The more important an activity is to my soul’s evolution, the more I’ll want to throw up.

The urge to throw up is something that happens when I’m really frightened.  Despite that, when I ponder a creative challenge, my response has always been to face that fear.  I liken myself to Albert Brooks’ character in the movie “Defending Your Life.”  He dies unexpectedly and finds himself in “Judgment City” where those who have died have to defend their life choices in order to move on, or return to Earth and try again as a new being.  Brooks’ character is defending the life choices he made out of fear, and so I imagine the same consequence for my fear. If I ever found myself in Judgment City, would this be a moment I would have to defend?

That image has pushed me to do creative things that really frightened me, like accepting the lead in my high school musical or auditioning as a voice major at Indiana University.  It wasn’t until I joined the Indianapolis Women’s Chorus as an adult that I began to meet other people who felt and expressed fear as they attempted creative endeavors.  The well-known phrase “leap and a net will appear” was a common refrain, and I began to notice that whenever I was frightened at the prospect of expressing myself creatively, I would feel like I wanted to throw up.

I realized that when I felt sick to my stomach, I was assuming I would fail.  That twinge was my inner critic, reminding me that failure was a fate worse than death, something to be avoided at all costs.  But the more I pushed myself, the more I succeeded creatively and the easier it became to try something else. The net always appeared in some form, and I was always grateful for it.

This continues to be a theme for me as I delve into my passion for writing.  I want to start my own blog, but that dream lies smothered under my fears.  What if I fail?  What if nobody reads it?  Why add my words to the plethora of blogs dotting the internet landscape?  What makes me so special?

Every time I think about starting my blog, I want to throw up.  Pressfield might say that I am resisting because writing is an important activity in my soul’s evolution, and I would agree.  I know that I’m afraid of failure.  I also know that I really want to try, that my desire to write is calling to me from underneath a pile of fears and excuses, waiting to be excavated and nurtured to fruition.

I am starting my own blog; I’ve given myself a timetable and I’m ready to pursue this passion.

Examine your passion and look for indicators that you are ready to express yourself.  Feeling resistance?  Great.  Feeling fearful?  Even better.  Ready to throw up?  You’ve found your passion; go after it!


Casey O'LearyCasey O’Leary is a writer and children’s librarian. She is passionate about reading and helping children find the “perfect book.”  In 2012, she fulfilled a dream by completing her master’s degree in library science from Indiana University, while working part time and raising three children with her wife, Jenni.  Casey will be attending the November 7, 2013, Spirit & Place event, The Risk of Pursuing Your Passion. The event is free and open to the public.  It will be held at the First Mennonite Church, 4601 Knollton Rd, Indianapolis, IN, 46228.  Doors open at 6:30 pm for pre-event activities and music by Michelle Qureshi.  The event begins at 7:00 pm.

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