Creative Confidence – Taking the Pressure Off

Building creative confidence by taking the pressure off

In the previous post, we began a discussion about creative confidence – with the goal of covering what it means, how to get it, how to keep it and how to pass it on.

In that post I shared an article by the Children’s Creativity Museum that provided what I think is a very moving definition of the term:

Creative Confidence: Having the freedom and courage to fail/take creative risks and the knowledge that all of the ideas you create have value.

And now we start on the path toward how to get it.

While I’m a big believer in the power of anxiety (when we can choose to perceive it as excitement) and of pressure (in the form of outrageously daring deadlines that spark the good kind of creative panic) in igniting creativity, the overriding drivers for me as a creator are joy, passion, freedom, adventure, poignancy, thrill and a whole bunch of other emotions unrelated to anxiety and feeling under pressure.

I think that’s true for many of us.

In the beginning, then, when we’re first tapping into our inherent creativity, it makes sense that one of the kindest things we can do for ourselves in our effort to build creative confidence is to take the pressure off.

In other words, find a way to open up our creative self and begin living a more creative life without the fear and dread of being wrong – of creating something bad.

For many of us, this requires taking away the fear of actually having to create at all – to just take the pressure off completely.

If we can set ourselves up to feel and experience the essence of creative being without the idea that there is some endgame, some masterpiece that needs to be created at the end of it, we can free ourselves from self-afflicted pressure and tap into the passion and motivation that, in the end, will drive us creatively forward anyway – with nary a thought to the risk.

Simply put, we can get to the point where we’re so on fire about what we are experiencing that creative stuff organically happens.

What we’re really doing when we take the pressure off is creating space for curiosity and, ultimately, inspiration (which is the starting point of the creative process to begin with: Sponge Work).

However, on the take-the-pressure-off path, we’re not going to imagine that creating this space has anything to do with sparking our creativity. In fact, we’re not even going to call what we’re doing anything with any form of the word creative in it.

We’re just going to call it fully living.

In this world, it’s all too easy to fall into ruts and routines that ignore who we really are and dampen our passion.

  • We stay in jobs we hate.
  • We forget to immerse ourselves in new experiences.
  • We stop learning.
  • We stop moving our bodies.
  • We numb out.

Not all of us, of course, and certainly not all the time, but perhaps just enough to prevent us from fully living (and, therefore, from feeling inspired to create and from feeling confident about doing it).  

My friend Ann Quasman shared an insightful article with me about the connection between creativity and health (A Creative Life is a Healthy Life by Amanda Enayati for CNN). In it, Enayati describes the path to creativity and innovation – which just happens to look very much like fully living.

If we put our focus on broadening our experience and deepening our learning about ourselves and the world around us; if we choose to master new skills and areas of interest; if we make a commitment to jump out of the status quo and into what makes us truly happy, what makes us feel more alive; our inherent creativity flows to the forefront and real creative expression follows.

All we have to do is decide to fully live.

Below are 10 “Big-Life” Questions that can be very helpful for setting new intentions on a regular basis (let’s say twice a year). Especially, the intention to fully live and, as a result, embark towards greater creative confidence at regular intervals. Remember, though, the whole idea is to take the pressure off by making fully living, not creativity, the goal.

In short, we’re building creative confidence by not going for anything more – or anything less – than full immersion in a full life.

To taking the pressure fully off by getting on with fully living,

Susan B.


#1. What’s your theme for the next six months?

#2. What are three goals you’ll have achieved as a result of living true to your theme?

#3. What new things are you going to learn?

#4. What are you going to master?

#5. What’s the one thing you’ve been scared to do that you ARE going to do within this time period?

#6. What will you STOP doing?

#7. What will you do MORE of?

#8. What new places (literal or metaphorical) will you go?

#9. What’s the motto you need to adopt during this time period to support you in embodying your theme and achieving your goals?

#10. At the end of the time period, what will NOW be true about you?

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