Are You Brave Enough to Create? (Spoiler Alert: You are)

No joke, I've tried starting this letter probably close to a dozen times already.

Trying to find the perfect place to start. The perfect wording. The perfect way to come back from my blogging break.

But the problem with perfection? All it does is breed procrastination.

  • "I should wait until have some epic free gift ready to send."

  • "I need to set up a new content strategy first. Gotta wait until that's ready."

  • "There's no way I can concentrate on my writing with all these distractions. I'll wait until I'm somewhere else."

Waiting.... Always waiting... Waiting for what?

I'll get back to that in a minute.

First I want to talk about a book I finally got my hands on and have been constantly devouring like a madwoman ever since, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Man oh man, I'm LOVING this book so far, I could go on for hours about it.

Today, though, I want to focus on one line in particular:

“Creativity is a path for the brave.”

This really got me thinking...

Whenever fear hits me most is when I'm creating.

Writing, lettering, designing, painting, even coloring in coloring books? Doesn't matter. All of it sends a giant swarm of butterflies churning away in my stomach whenever I go to get started.

I used to only practice my hand-lettering on loose paper because I was so afraid of "ruining" my sketchbook if everything wasn't absolutely perfect.

Same with writing notebooks. Raise your hand with me if you have a huge collection of pretty journals that haven't been touched yet (let's change that today, yeah?).

And actually putting creative work out there? I always have exactly a gazillion and one second-thoughts running through my head like a rabbit on steroids whenever I'm about to press "share" or "publish" or "send". Just like I'm about to do with this letter.

*cue nervous sweating*

Something I've noticed, though, is no matter what, there's this urge to create and share inside me that's ALWAYS there, begging to be let out.

I'll procrastinate. I'll try to ignore it. I'll make excuses.

But all of us know the unmistakeable pull that's leading us onto these different creative paths. At some point, you have to face it head on, fear and all.

Like Elizabeth also said, this isn't a path for the fearless. Creativity is a path for the BRAVE. It means doing things even with the fear. Especially with the fear.


"And you have treasures hidden within you - extraordinary treasures - and so do I, and so does everyone around us. And bringing those treasures to light takes work and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion, and the clock is ticking, and the world is spinning, and we simply do not have time anymore to think so small."

Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic


When it comes down to it, perfection and procrastination are just fancy names for fear.

They're fear in disguise, trying to convince you that you can't do it yet. You need more research, more practice, more time. You're not ready.

Whether we like it or not, fear is aaaaaalways gonna be around. We're all dealing with it in some way or another on the daily.

But it doesn't have to end there.

I KNOW there's something creative you're feeling pulled to do or start.

What immediately popped into your head after reading that? 'Cause I promise you, there's a reason why it's the first thing you thought of.

Answer that pull. Explore. Experiment. See where it takes you.

I know you're scared. And I get it, I'm scared too. Literally all the time.

But what's going to set you apart - what's going to really make a difference in your brand and your creative journey - is gently telling that fear, "I hear you... But it's okay. Let's go for this anyway."

Keep being brave.


This post was originally part of the Weekly Adventure Letters I send to Creative Adventurers who are bravely creating and building expressive, meaningful brands. Sign up below to join the community and get letters like this sent straight to your inbox.

When You're Afraid to Start: A Letter to New Bloggers and Creative Business Owners

Research is easy. 

Anyone can Google something, read a blog post, or watch a video. Anyone can dream and fantasize about starting their own business "someday." Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

These things don't require any commitment on your part. They don't force you to do anything or even get started at all.

Nope, you can happily read/watch/listen to your little heart's content and spend hours learning all kinds of cool stuff and coming up with super neato ideas.

Research is safe.

Taking action is terrifying.

Like the "I'm-pretty-sure-these-tummy-butterflies-are-gonna-eat-a-freaking-hole-through-my-stomach" kind of terrifying.

Taking action makes everything seem so much more real somehow.

You're taking a risk. Your ideas aren't just in your head anymore. They're out there, all pink, squishy, and vulnerable like a bare-ass, naked turtle...that's... pink? (Work with me here).

But by taking action, you're MILES ahead of all those other guys that are still waiting for their "somedays" to come.

You? You're taking your ideas and actually DOING something about them.

Everyone has ideas. I don’t care how good you think your idea is, no one deserves a pat on that back for an idea. They’re completely worthless. We all have ideas. And you know what? 98% of us don’t do a thing to bring them to fruition. You want to be special? You want to be unique?

Be the 2% that does something about that idea.
— Sean McCabe

Sean nails it right on the head with this episode of seanwes tv: Your Idea is Worthless. 

An idea is meaningless unless and until you GIVE it meaning. Until you give it shape and form and allow it to evolve. You wanna stand out from the crowd? Be the 2%.

"But I'm still new to all of this. I don't have any experience yet."

Related Post: How to Overcome the Fear of Starting a Blog + Free Worksheet

  • Maybe you feel like you need to hide the fact that you're new. Like it's some terrible secret that needs to be kept under lock and key (and an impenetrable magical barrier...ya know, just to be safe).
     
  • Maybe you feel insecure about being new. That if people know that you're just starting out, they'll completely blow you off and never give you a chance. 
     
  • Maybe you aren't even sure if you have anything worthwhile to say at all. Who would listen to a newbie?

Now let me ask you this question: What's so wrong about just starting out? Really? What makes it such a bad thing?

Nothing, that's what. There's nothing wrong with it at all. 

Every single one of us started from absolute zero. It's not something to be ashamed of or hide from. In fact, being new can be an asset. 

I came across a presentation on 99u the other day called Being a Rookie Is an Asset by Susan Gregg Koger. In it she says,

"Approaching a problem from a rookie point of view can really enable you to innovate just because you don't know how it's usually done." 

As someone who's new, you're not blinded by the traditional or standard ways of approaching your industry or the problems within it. You have a fresh perspective. 

Don't let your lack of experience be your excuse for not getting started. I've been there, which you can read more about here

You know and have so much more to give than you think. You have to trust yourself that you have what it takes to start and grow from there, even if not a single other person believes you can.

Prove. them. wrong.

Show Up and Do the Work

When I was about 13 or so, I thought piano scales were the stupidest things in the world (Okay, stereotypical teenage rebellion maaayyyy or may not be to blame here).

Nothing frustrated me more than the idea of sitting down to play an E major scale for the upteenth time.

Heck, I just wanted to play real music! Isn't that what I was supposed to be learning?

What was the point of scales, arpeggios, and all of that other boring crap? Practicing alone was already a chore. Then you're gonna add all these warm-up thingys on top of that? Pfft, no thanks.

If you're a musician and probably even if you're not, you know exactly why they're so important.

Showing up for consistent practice is the foundation. The cornerstone. Take that cornerstone away, and everything crumbles.

HAVING THE DEDICATION TO CONSISTENTLY SHOW UP AND PUT IN THE WORK IS THE CORNERSTONE OF YOUR ENTIRE BRAND.

 

Related Post: 3 Must-Do's to Create a Strong Foundation for Your Blog

I'm gonna be real here. I've seen a lot of people put all their faith in something like a new course, tool, book, or whatever. That it's literally THE answer they've been looking for to solve all their problems.

But in reality, that shiny, newfangled do-hickey doesn't hold all the solutions

A course or tool isn't going to create results for you. Yes, there are some amazing ones out there that can provide you with plenty of help and guidance...

But tools and courses only work if YOU do.

You'll never see results by "waiting for inspiration to strike" or by doing the work whenever you feel like it. Inspiration is overrated.

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
— Stephen King

You need to make a decision every day: Are you going to just sit around or waste time wistfully dreaming about success? OR are you going to show up, put in the effort, and actually give a damn about what you're trying to make happen?

Embrace your inner Frodo Baggins and keep going, even when you feel like giving up. 

 

I love this kinetic typography animation of a quote by Ira Glass on what nobody tells beginners. (You can find the original interview here) 

"It’s only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. It’s gonna take a while. It’s normal to take a while. You’ve just gotta fight your way through." - Ira Glass

Don't wait for inspiration or for perfect timing that's never going to come.

Don't call it quits when you don't see results right away.

Don't stop showing up and putting in the work.  

Don't give up.

Start and

Keep.

Going. 


Join the Creative Adventurers Gang

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What keeps you going when you feel like giving up?
How are you showing up and putting in the work right now?

How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Bloggers + Free Workbook

The comparison trap is easy to get stuck in if you don't know how to get out. Especially when you're new to the blogging world.

In the two months I've been blogging, I've compared myself hundreds of times at least. And you can bet I did even more before I got started.

I've compared my content, my designs, my experiences, my social media, my numbers, my *insert just about any other aspect of blogging here.*

Lemme tell you, that crap can wear. you. OUT.

Comparison is a dangerous thing.

  • It can lower your confidence.
  • It can spur jealously and resentment.
  • And it can bring you to a screeching halt with your own brand.

...but only if you let it.

Today, I’m sharing with you the 4 things that help keep me from falling into the comparison trap, and you can bet there are tons of action items for you in here too!

How to Overcome Your Fears of Starting a Blog + Free Worksheet

Let's just get this out of the way: starting your own blog and/or business is no small task. 

There's SO much advice out there about what you "should" and "shouldn't be" doing, and it can be damn near impossible to make heads or tails of any of it, especially when you're first starting out. 

Not to mention the fact that all of that information can freeze you right in your tracks. How do you make sure you do everything right?

Listen, there is no "right way" to start. What's important is that you START.

But starting can be scary, I know. Really scary. And there are a lot of things that might try to hold you back.

You cannot let that happen.  

If this is something you want, then grab it by the horns and face it head on. I skirted around my dreams of starting my own blog + biz for 3 whole years. Don't waste time like I did.

Today, I'm sharing the 4 main things that held me back, how I overcame them, and how YOU can overcome them too.
 

1. Focusing on the fear.

I'd always been drawn to the idea of letting my voice be heard, but for an introvert like me, I remained on the sidelines as an observer and nothing more. But I was sick of being an observer. I wanted to be a doer.

But my fear sucked away my energy. I constantly worried about the "what-ifs." The bad ones. You know, like "What if no one likes me?" or "What if I suck?" or "What if I suck so bad that the entire internet forms a massive, angry mob with torches and pitchforks that surrounds my house and demands my head on a spike???" 

Huh. Maybe I watch too much Game of Thrones.... Haha nahhhh.
 
If you're only focusing on the worst case scenario, you're cheating yourself of all the great things that could result instead. Pretty sure no one's going to demand your head on a spike, so you can scratch that off to start. 

I'll be honest with you, my fear isn't something I've "conquered" or eliminated. It's always there.  

Whenever I publish a new post, approach someone new, or push myself out of my comfort zone, I'm always TERRIFIED.

But that's okay. Wanna know why?

Fear isn't something we can truly eliminate, but it IS something we can overcome.

That's the key. There's no shortcut around it. Accept your fear and acknowledge that it's there, BUT THEN DO IT ANYWAY. Whatever your "it" is.   

Related Post: Are You Brave Enough to Create? (Spoiler Alert: You are)
 

2. Not knowing where to begin or where to go from there.

I spent hours at a time reading blog post after blog post and book after book trying to learn everything I could. For 3 YEARS. 

I'd be a millionaire if I had a penny for every wasted second I spent researching things that wouldn't make a world of a difference in helping me start.

I thought if I could learn more about x, y, or z, THEN I would be ready. THEN I could start. Over and over again I kept thinking like this, all the while not even knowing what "starting" really looked like.

When it came down to it, I was procrastinating.

You learn best by doing. What works for someone else isn't always going to work for you. You have to experiment. The way you create, work, and live is entirely unique to you. Just because you go about things differently doesn't make you wrong.

Related Post: A Better Way to Discover Your Niche & Creative Expertise

Write out all of your goals.  

Take some time to really think about what it is you wish to accomplish, and then WRITE THEM DOWN. Don't just think about them. Make them real. Commit to your goals. Tell your family or friends, create a poster for your wall, or do whatever it is you need to do in order to hold yourself accountable.  

I made my goal of starting a blog public when I officially set my launch day. I gave myself a month and a half to get things ready, which might not sound like a lot of time, but it's what got me hustling. I was done with wasting time. I wanted to make shit happen!

Choose one main goal to focus on and break it down into manageable chunks. 

For me, starting a blog was my main goal. Now that's all well and good, but unless I had taken the time to map out exactly what steps I needed to take to get there, I probably wouldn't be writing this post.

I had to do some reverse engineering that looked something like this:

  • Start writing blog posts (what do I write about?)

  • Topics in my niche (how do I find my niche?)

  • Figure out what it is I really want to do and who I want to help (how will I share these things?)

  • Develop my brand (how do I raise awareness?)

  • Network and form meaningful relationships with others (where do I find people?)

  • Become more active on social media (but how do I get over my fear and stick with it?)

  • Make a public commitment (what will hold me accountable?)

  • Set a launch date (what do I do now?)

  • Set up a website (how do I start a website?)

  • Find a hosting provider (how do I find out which one is right for me?)

  • Start a trial with Squarespace (how do I set it up in time?)

  • Set a schedule and stick to it (what if I'm not ready?)

  • Launch and learn

By breaking things down one step at a time, it's much easier to visualize where you're headed and what you need to do to get there. From this basic outline, I was able to make a plan that covered the main points I needed to make my goals a reality.  

Were there some unexpected surprises? Of course. There always will be. But since I had already carved myself a rough path, I was much better equipped to face them.

3. Fear of networking.

I used to be straight up terrified of anything that could be remotely categorized as networking. Facebook groups were intimidating. Twitter was overwhelming (sending out a tweet was out of the question, let alone tweeting TO someone). And emails? Ohhh man, the thought of sending one of those was a nightmare.

But I knew that if I ever wanted this to become a real thing, I had to start reaching out to others. My blog would not have launched with the same impact it did if I hadn't been actively utilizing social media.

You shouldn't have to run your blog + biz alone. You DON'T have to.

Share other's content on social media.

Even if your website is not anywhere near launch, start sharing. You can never start sharing too soon. By sharing other's content, you're supporting your fellow bloggers by spreading the word, easing yourself into the flow of social media, and opening doors to future connections and friendships.

One of my favorite tools for this is Buffer, which allows you to schedule updates in advance as well as shorten URLs. It's played a big part in helping me stay active by consistently sharing useful content with my followers.

Comment on other blogs.

I know this is almost like a blogger cliché, but that's because commenting on other blogs is such an essential part to building relationships and extending your outreach.

Be sure your comments offer something of value to the post's author.  Don't just say things like "Wow, great post!" or worse "Nice! Come check out my blog now!" These types of comments are spammy, and spam is just gross.

Show that you actually put in the effort to read through their post. Talk about points that resonated with you most, your experiences, or any questions you might have.

Join Twitter chats.

If you're not familiar with a Twitter chat, basically it's a Q&A based chat on a specific topic where everyone uses a unique hashtag to keep the conversation together.  The host sets a specific time, then asks questions (Usually in a Q1, Q2, etc. format) to which everyone replies to and BOOM. Awesome conversations galore.

Think mini networking event, but you can go in your jammies.

I've met so many amazing people through Twitter chats, and on top of that, I'll usually gain at least 5-10 new followers with each one.  Some of my favorite chats are:

Chloe at ChloeSocial.com has a super handy Twitter chat calendar to help you keep track of all the awesome chats going on each month!
 

4. Lack of confidence.

Second guessing myself is something I've always struggled with. I'll even second guess the dumbest of things. 

In addition to the blog, I also run a music studio business.  One time when I was shopping for supplies, I was struggling to decide on which stickers would get me the most for my money while still appealing to my students.  Safari animals with 251 stickers or cute little owls with 248?  Or maybe springtime flowers with 257??? WHICH DO I CHOOSE?!?!

Did I mention they were only $1 each? ....Yeaaahhhh. 

So I'm sure you can imagine how indecisive I was when it came to launching an entire website.

I doubted everything and gave into the excessive amount of worries I had.  Not to mention the fact that everyone and their cat seemed like they had already jumped on the blogging bandwagon. Why should I?

But the thing is, every single one of us has something unique to offer.  You have your own voice, stories, experiences, personality, and opinions that are unlike those of anyone else. These are the things you need to hold onto.

Define your WHY.

This is one of, if not THE most important step of starting your blog + biz. I mentioned in last week's newsletter how your WHY is the driving force behind everything you do - every blog post, every product, every service, every single piece of content you create. It's the very core of your entire brand. 

  • Your WHY defines your purpose.

  • Your WHY shapes who you are and what you do.

  • Your WHY makes you stand out from the crowd.

  • Your WHY connects you with other like-minded people and those you can help most.

  • Your WHY prevents you from giving up when things get tough.

Since this is such an essential part of your blog + biz no matter what stage you're at with it, I have a free worksheet of 10 questions to help you define your WHY.  

Keep it in mind at all times.

As you can tell, I'm no stranger to the fear that comes along with blogging, starting your own business, and putting yourself out there. It's not easy, but I promise you it's so worth it!

If you're struggling with your blog or biz start-up or have any questions, please don't hesitate to leave a comment below or get in touch with me. :) 


What fears have held you back?
How have you overcome them?