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5 steps to stop being afraid and start creating

Something I'm super good at is making plans.

Really good. I'd list it as one of my top five skills. My favorite types of plans include: plans to completely turn my life around, plans to exercise and eat better, plans to learn all kinds of cool and creative skills, and most of all, plans for the future. Internships I want to get, projects I want to start, people I want to meet, you name it.

Now I say this all with a twinge of irony and self-amusement because yes, it's as ridiculous as it sounds. And no, I never really follow through with my plans and they don't typically "turn my life around" in the way that I imagine. But they do give me a whole lot of inspiration and ideas.

Now the problem with inspiration or ideas is that they only exist within your own head. It's like having a pot of boiling water but no pasta; it's not going to feed anybody unless you get some real, tangible food in there. (Weird analogy? I digress). The point is, I'm great at planning but not as great at doing. And this summer, my first real summer with free time, I had a whole lot of plans about things to make and learn and create; from blog updates to becoming a photography wiz to learning about video production and coding and calligraphy. And the fact that I keep finding myself scrolling through Instagram and watching YouTube videos and not creating is highly frustrating. I want some pasta, people!! I want to make something real that I can be proud of. Why can't I get myself to just do it??

So instead of continuing to scroll through Instagram and being frustrated at no one in particular (except maybe myself) I decided to stop and think about what in particular is holding me back from doing all the cool, creative stuff I want to do. I came up with three possible reasons:

  1. Pure laziness/ tiredness/ the desperate need for a mindless break from life. 
  2. Being completely and utterly daunted by everything that I don't know. 
  3. And not even knowing where to begin figuring it out.
  4. Fear. In the thousands of ways that it manifests. 
As for the first three, my advice is to take a break until you start to feel like a potato, Google until you can't Google anymore, and begin with whatever seems easiest, in that order. (I'll write more in depth posts about these in the future, I promise).

But for now, I want to focus on number 4. because it is probably the biggest and most halting of them all. Fear. The fear of what people will think of us and if they'll like what we make. The fear of making something that just plain sucks. The fear of not living up to your plan. The fear of letting people down. The fear of being too cliche or too sappy or too anything. The fear of being too afraid and never taking the leap.

As someone who is basically an expert in all of those fears (lol I'm fine), here are my tips for us, fellow scardy-cats, about how we can hopefully avoid that last one.

1. Ditch the plans and stop thinking about the future  

So my underlying blog philosophy is that I write the stuff I need to read. But that is especially true with this, because I am such an obsessive future-planner and goal-maker.  The problem with obsessing with the future and goals however, is that it messes with your motivation. Are you doing whatever you're doing just because you want to get a specific internship or job? Or are you doing it simply because you actually enjoy it right now? Are you doing whatever you're doing for the future or for you? Sometimes goals and plans focus on the former and forget the you right now part. But the you right now part is the real stuff. It's the pasta. So don't throw it under the bus. Don't get caught up in doing everything perfectly so that it fits with your future plans, because then it'll never get done. As Liz Gilbert said in her book Big Magic (highly recommend), perfectionism is just a haute couture version of fear. And the biggest things our plans are doing, often times, is making us afraid.

2. Start as soon as you can 

So once we've deleted the plans and doomed attempts at perfection, we've also deleted our glorified forms of procrastination. You don't need to plan or prepare anymore before you start, so you have no excuses not to get going. Start right now, with what you know and what you have. In the simplest of terms, "just do it." Sorry I don't have any more specific advice about that. Oh wait, I do. 

3. Allot a bit of time each day for your "creative workout" 

A lot of people have a hard time fitting the work for their personal or creative projects into their busy schedules. And if you're anything like me, you have a hard time picking between netflix/snacks or working on your blog/ photography/ creative stuff after a long day of work (spoiler: netflix and snacks often win the battle). Luckily, I watched a very inspiring video on Brit + Co about these women who embarked on "creative workouts" in which they dedicated an hour everyday to being creative, no matter what. Now, I definitely don't have an hour everyday to spend painting, idk about you. But we could dedicate thirty minutes a day, or a certain amount of time every Sunday towards working on our creative projects. That way we'll still have a reasonable amount of netflix time. 

4. Equate success with 'done' rather than 'perfect' 

Okay, so you ditched your plans for the future and you started. And you scheduled in some time to continue working. Now, despite your fear, you're halfway there. (I guess the best advice towards overcoming fear is really just to do whatever you're afraid of). The next step is to just keep going until it's finished. Do you feel like it's horrible? Alright! Did you completely mess something up? Whatever! Does it look nothing like how you imagined it being in your perfection-longing brain? Oh well! The point is, in any creative pursuit, done is better than perfect. Because all that other stuff will get better with practice. The next thing you finish will likely feel less horrible, and the one after that will probably feel mildly okay! My first blog posts felt pretty cringe-y even as I was writing them, but now I write stuff that I'm actually fairly proud of (sometimes)! Just be sure to finish what you started because nothing will improve if you spend forty years laboring over the one project that was never quite right. 

5. Remind yourself that nobody cares that much 

At this point you might think, "but how can I release something so horrible and imperfect into the world?? People will judge it and hate it!" (or at least that's what I'm thinking, tbh). The truth is, and this might be kind of a downer, but people don't care that much. Most of the time, there will be 4 possible responses that people could have: 1.) Doesn't care 2.) I love that! 3.) I don't love that, but I respect that. and 4.) Ehh, that's kinda dumb.  And the good thing is, 90% of the time people don't release number 4 into the world, they just keep those thoughts to themselves. So why would you waste your time catering to somebody else's secret thoughts? You don't have time for that. 

6. Keep doing and making things, recklessly 

Even if, as I mentioned above, somebody does judge the stuff you make, there's good news: If you keep on making stuff and sharing it with the world, people will eventually forget the old stuff. As you keep creating, your creations will get better. And people's perceptions of them will get even better, too. 

Alright, those are my six steps towards overcoming fear and finally getting started on all your cool and creative ideas. And keep in mind that 'creative' doesn't necessarily mean painting and violin-playing. It also means writing and starting a business and solving problems and taking photos. Creative thinking can be a part of almost anything if you want it to be. 

♡ Julia



  1. Okay, I loved this post, and I NEEDED this post. I just wrote down all the things that I feel like are holding me back too. I get what you're saying about wanting to be creative and having all the tools, but sometimes it's so hard to find the time. And then through the whole thing you're so scared of failure. I know for sure I need to watch some more tutorials and stuff like that. This has been an enlightening post for me! Thank you :)


    1. Oh my gosh I'm so glad, Emily! It's nice to know my writing can be helpful to others. :) I'm glad you took the time to think about what's holding you back, and I hope you take a leap towards getting it done! :)

  2. Fear is so limiting, agreed! I loved reading this, babe- time to get brave!

    Le Stylo Rouge

    1. Definitely time to get brave! Thanks, Ashley

  3. I loved this post! I'm actually in a similar situation, as I have some free time this Summer but I also have a lot of hobbies (including blogging), and some other stuff I want to try. I think the idea of setting even half an hour is really good, I've been meaning to get back into reading but never find the time :) Have a great weekend xx

    Velvet Blush

    1. Glad it's helpful! And yeah exactly the same for me-- I want to get crackin' this summer on all my hobbies and interests. I hope you had a great weekend too!

  4. Loved this article, Julia! It's so well written and I love your advice. I too tend to have a shit tonne of plans but never start doing half of them. I often don't know where to start or I fear. So this post was very helpful! I think the best thing we can do is just start it. It doesn't matter if you fail or succeed. What is important is that you will do it :)

    -Leta | The Nerdy Me

    1. Exactly, Leta! I'm exactly the same way.

  5. You're right - most people don't care. I need to remind myself that more x

    LAURA ­| Laura Thinks About

    1. Me too, Laura. It's actually funny how comforting that thought it, haha :)

  6. This is an awesome post with a lot of good points. It reminds me a lot of Gary Vaynercheuk, an entrepreneur who also runs a Youtube channel. He speaks about the value of just getting stuff done and speed/execution over perfection.
    Mind The Medic

    1. I haven't heard of him but I'm definitely going to check him out now! Thanks for the comment, Zed.

  7. Love to read you!!!

  8. Damn I found this post so motivational, I am such a massive planner for all the stuff you plan as well (forever planning to turn my life around) but somehow I never manage to translate those plans into reality. I think I'm going to allot myself some time for a creative workout as well, I want to start learning coding and I've been experimenting with photoshop as well :)

    Julia // The Sunday Mode

  9. Thank you for writing this post. It's like you jumped in my head and read all of my thoughts! I'm feelong motivated and excited and best of all, not alone in my struggles!

  10. I love this post!! Thanks so much :-) really helpful, practical advice for procrastinators/ perfectionists like myself - and looking at the above comments, SO nice to know I'm not alone lol


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About me

About me
I’m a 19-year old college student who’s still very much “in bluhm” (heh) but I’m figuring it out as I go, laptop in hand.
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