The Fear Of Art

Scary face in the DarkThis is going to be a no-nonsense post. In the past I’ve been guilty of over-romanticising the process of writing. I’ve written posts on how to conjure the muse, I’ve talked about inspiration and the deeply profound effect of words. I’m now at a place, with a few books under my wing, where I can categorically state, in no uncertain terms, that it was all… bollocks.

I’m not saying that all of this stuff doesn’t exist. It does. There is inspiration and there is a deeper meaning to what we all do, but it’s not really for me to say. You can get lost in the pseudo-spiritual world and actually never produce anything. Then what are you? Are you a complex artist who suffers terribly with the pain of expression and you’re still working on your masterpiece. No, you’re not. You’re just wasting your time.

It’s dawned on me that writing books is really very simple and yet it’s still classed as an achievement to complete. This isn’t because of the length of the process because there are other things in life that you complete which take a long time. For instance, how long did it take you to read the entire Harry Potter series? (or something equally as arduous, you catch my drift)

The reason people struggle to complete a novel, or even put off starting it in the first place, is the FEAR. It’s the fear that it won’t be good enough. It’s the fear that people will judge YOU. It’s the fear that people won’t like you anymore.

This sense of approval and acceptance is part of being human, unfortunately. Most of us suffer from it in one way or another, and very few can genuinely say that they don’t care what people say. But, in order to produce any form of art, you must learn to conquer it enough to unburden yourself with its limitations.


The first thing to realise is that you’re unique. There is no one on this earth that is exactly the same as you. Your experiences, your dreams, your circle of friends, your thoughts are all completely unique. It sounds like I’m going to start claiming that you have to love yourself, but I’m not, stick with me.

If you’re unique then no one else will be able to come out with your story in exactly the same way. If you’re true to yourself and, just write what you’re thinking, then it’s going to be unique.

It’s not art until it’s shipped

I heard this phrase last year and it’s true. I reckon it’s right to say that art isn’t art until it’s left you. You must’ve completed it and made it available for public consumption, otherwise it’s just work-in-progress. I know of the other phrase, ‘a piece of art is never finished it’s abandoned,’ but at some point you have to draw a line under it.

It’s important to remember this though. Until you complete a piece of work you’re just practising a hobby. Until you have something out there that can be judged by others, you’re just a person doing something with their time. I know this sounds harsh but think about it. By never completing anything, the fear wins.

It’s not you anymore

At the point when you let it go, it ceases to be anything to do with you. It’s a work of art, a creation, an expression that will stand on its own two feet. Anyone who judges it will be judging the work, not you. If someone doesn’t like your story it doesn’t mean they don’t like you, and besides, you’ve got tons of stories where that came from, just give them another.


By accepting these rules, you allow yourself a space to create in perfect freedom. You can write what you want until you’re happy with the form it has taken and then, when you feel that it’s the best expression of what you had in mind, you then let it go and move on.

After it’s gone you mustn’t over inflate your ego with positive reviews, similarly you mustn’t get overwhelmed with the negative ones either. It’s just a piece of work that some people’ll get and some won’t. The point is that you did it and you can then do it again. You’ve beaten the fear and then the whole world seems better.

Until next time…


4 responses to “The Fear Of Art

  1. I’ve had the intention to get the book in my head onto the page for years and have not truthfully reflected on why the page is still blank – until I read your blog. I happened to have a chat with a good mate of mine this morning, he’s on his 32nd historical novel that sells well in many countries but he doesn’t drive a Aston Martin – and he made me think again. I then happened across your blog while trying to get Scrivener on my iPad. Synchronicity was in play. I know enough to see the light when it’s megaphone-shaped. It’s not about the (lack of) money, it’s like you said, it’s wanting to be liked or my book being accepted, or more accurately the fear of rejection that’s stopped me. The unique me, or what the unique me has to say is what’s important, to me anyway – but that’s the key, it’s not rocket science and I won’t lose sleep if no-one reads it (a little voice says “yes I will”), but hey, they might. So, I got started. Thanks Michael.

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