On Creating: Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway

Image Credit: morgueFile Free License

Lately I’ve consumed so much content regarding getting started producing your own content. How meta, right? (Seems like everyone has something to say about it right now.) And basically what everyone says–everyone– is this: Keep. Producing. Content. Keep on making your thing. If you want to read arguably the best and most comprehensive  article on the subject, then do yourself a favor and devote ten minutes to reading this, thoroughly: Make Your Thing: 12 Point Program for Absolutely, Positively 1000% No-Fail Guaranteed Success

And if that’s too long, or you don’t have ten minutes to spare (seriously though, for makers-of-things, it’s ten minutes that you’re investing in your future, it’s that good) then here’s the sticking point for me: Don’t get so caught up in the details and future-plans (or lack thereof) that you never actually make/produce anything. Quit over-thinking and waiting for the “right time,” and just keep making your thing. It will not be perfect. It might not even be very good, and that’s okay. You need to practice. You need to figure out what works and what doesn’t. You need to exercise your making-muscle. If you can only work under the most ideal of circumstances, you lack the creative discipline to actually be a professional, so stop waiting for the stars to align, and just keep working.

Today I came across this quote, on RowdyKittens: “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst” (Henri Cartier-Bresson), and I felt that it summed-up the truth of the matter rather succinctly. Whether your thing is photography, or writing, or vlogging, or cooking, or heck, analyzing data and creating neato infographs, everyone has to go through their own personal amateur-hour before they actually get good at their thing. And if your thing is public-facing, that can be scary, right? No one wants to be judged harshly off of their first efforts.

Personal story: I completely hacked the first dance solo I was given in high school. I mean, seriously. It was terrible. I hacked it at every single competition we attended. Wanna know why? I never committed to getting it right in rehearsal, because I was so afraid of my teammates judging me. But that’s the thing! You have to have that vulnerability at first, in order to get all of that hacking out of the way. So what if those teammates judged me? If I’d have committed to taking risks in rehearsals, I likely wouldn’t have performed so terribly at competitions. I’d have worked my amateur-hour out already, and the audience would have received the “real thing.”

So if it’s a given that “your first 10,000 photographs will be your worst,” then what are you waiting for? Better get those out of the way so you can start making the “real thing.” A thing you can be proud of, and a thing that you’re not afraid of being judged on.

Which reminds me of another quote, which I will leave you with: “Feel the fear, and do it anyway.” Wish I could tell you who said that, or where I heard it, but it’s stuck with me and served me well on so many occasions. Acknowledge that you’re afraid, but don’t let that stop you from actually doing.

Deep stuff from me today, folks. Deep stuff.

Leave a comment


  1. Hmmm… the new website doesn’t allow me to comment using my WordPress ID. Anyhow…

    Good article, timely reminder to JUST DO IT! The sooner you make those 10,000 mistakes the sooner you are to producing.

    I’ve found that there’s other hinderances to producing apart from fear.

    There’s the temptation to keep reading on producing (consuming content) instead of actually producing (producing content) ’cause consumption is easier than production for one thing.

    Another thing is that you could have read up so much and know so many ways of doing something that you end up being paralysed into inaction. The first step is literally the hardest ’cause there’s like 10,000 different things you could do. You’re overwhelmed and discouraged. 😦

    Anyone else have other reasons that stop them from creating?

    • melissajenna

       /  March 2, 2012

      Oh my goodness, you hit the nail on the head with those two! I definitely get addicted to consumption, and before I know it, all the time I had margined for creating was wasting on consuming other people’s creations! So. Aggravating. New goal: quit consuming so much.

      And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been “paralyzed into inaction” (perfect way of expressing that!). Yeah, it’s like as soon as you make a decision on getting started, you’re simultaneously making 100 other decisions on how you won’t proceed. Every choice excludes other options, and that can be petrifying. Like, what if I make the wrong choice? Maybe I should map this out and consider every possible permutation before I move forward? And then, suddenly, I’ve wasted several hours planning and ZERO hours doing.

      I am so, so guilty of both of those things! Thank you SO much for this contribution! (And WRT wordpress ID…I’ll look into it. I just began self-hosting, and maybe there’s a plugin I need to install?)

  2. Great post! I agree with Alan too. Sometimes I come up with an idea of something – a project for the house, an idea for a video or a photograph or song and I’m paralyzed by all of the paths that suddenly lay before me in my mind. It’s so frustrating because something that seemed so simple becomes utterly complex and I’m incapable of unraveling what has quickly become a tangled thought process. Sometimes (very few times) I can be brilliantly simple and as we’ve all heard, “Keep it simple stupid”. Those have always been my best creations. I just wish from the moment of conception of some idea, I coud make a mental leap forward – up and over those distracting temptations to over-create and cut to the heart of it.

  3. There is this book, it’s where I first heard the phrase “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway”.



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