I am sitting here doing some reading and research for a class project I have due by the end of September. It is related to my dissertation or D Min project as it is called. My project will be something that will address what I am calling a theology of productivity and creativity, which will be a program that churches can institute to teach members how to recognize and release their God-given ideas and purpose.
If anyone, including a Christian, is going to creatively produce, he or she must deal with the issue of anxiety, a topic which we began to address yesterday. I am learning to deal with anxiety that keeps me from expressing my creativity and I see it all the time in many people. Church people have a new repertoire of excuses that others can't use, excuses like, "I'm praying about it," "God hasn't released me to do that," "It's not God's timing," or "I don't want to get ahead of the Lord." Some times these expressions may be based in fact, but others times they are a mask for anxiety and fear.
Yesterday, I quoted from Eric Maisel's book, The Van Gogh Blues: The Creative Person's Path through Depression. Let's continue with the excerpt that I began in that last post:
When a creator does this frequently enough and lets his [or her] anxiety about creating stop him [or her] from creating, he [or she] begins to feel like a weak, indecisive person. It is a very short step to even darker feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness. The end result of not knowing that he must brave his anxiety is that he ends up completely down on himself. Anxiety bests him and, to make matters worse, he then has to deal with the negative labels he pins on himself. This classic vicious cycle, where anxiety leads to a battered self-image and a battered self-image makes it harder to brave anxiety, defeats many creators.
Anxiety can debilitate any creator, even the most strong-willed and self-directing. A fiercely independent-minded sculptor may mention with a laugh that some friends visited his studio and hated his new work. On the surface, it looks like he's shrugged their comments off. Three weeks later, he complains of serious blockage. Doubts about his talent now make him anxious, his anxiety causes him not to sculpt, but the "why" of this is completely unknown to him. Anxiety has chalked up another victim.
Has anxiety claimed you as a victim? I don't restrict the effects of anxiety to just the creative arts like writing or painting. It can hinder your ability to start a business, take a missions trip, teach a class, or go back to school. You can be so uptight about doing something wrong or doing it poorly that you don't do anything at all and "wait" upon the Lord.
Anxiety and fear are closely related, if not synonymous, in the creative process. So dealing with anxiety is like dealing with fear: you must face it to overcome it. You must admit that you are anxious and identify the reasons why: fear of failure, fear of criticism, ignorance of how to start, not knowing how to finish. You must not hide behind the Lord and disguise your anxiety as something other than what it is.
I currently have a proposal from my publisher to write a book on top of all the other writing and school work that I am already doing. My anxiety tells me not to do it; my thinking is that I have done it before and can do it again, with God's help. So what will I decide? The ideal would be that someone would step forward and give me a study/writing grant to cover my needs while I create and write. Whether or not that happens, I have already decided to work on the book while pursuing my studies and continuing my consulting and speaking work. If I had not been studying anxiety, I'm not sure I would or could have made that decision.
How does the issue of anxiety apply to your creativity right now? What has you stuck in a non-productive or non-creative rut? I urge you to discover what it is and then get going on what you have talked about doing for a short or long time. Don't let anxiety rob you and the world any longer of the best you that you can be. If I can help, let me know.