Sunday, March 25, 2012

Why You’re Afraid to Live a Creative Life

I meet songwriters, musicians, and artists all the time who say, “Wow, I wish I would have gone after this creative dream a long time ago. But I was too afraid.”

What were they afraid of? Did they think people would laugh at them if they played their song in public? Did they fear ridicule by friends and family because they were pursuing the creative dream they had hidden their entire life?

It’s really not their fault. Because the world discourages creativity for the most part, especially our education system.

Oh sure, critics may say they cherish the arts and promote them, but really music and art are just sideline courses in most schools.

This whole blog was inspired by the chapter on Fear in Don Hahn’s excellent book for creatives, Brainstorm.

“In some schools, the arts are seen as nonessential electives, along with auto shop and dance squad. The message is that the arts are a wonderful diversion, a hobby, but not real work. This message carries into adulthood, when we find jobs that require us to put our creative dreams on the shelf--thinking perhaps we’ll come back to them someday.”

And that’s where I find many creative folks. They have given in to the job that pays the bills, but discourages creativity to some degree (or they aren’t able to bring their natural creativity to the job!)

Plus, as many of the folks I work with feel that God gave them these talents, they feel they have buried them for too long. There is not just a longing to use their creative gifts, it’s a calling to use them!

Oh sure, our parents encouraged us to color, be in backyard plays, and do John Wayne impressions for their bridge club (still scarred by that, Mom). But when their kids choose to be artists for a living, parents cringe. More from Hahn.

“It’s easy for parents to envision their sons and daughters as doctors, firemen, teachers, and nurses. It’s much harder to encourage daughters to be actors or sculptors and sons to be painters or clowns.”

So is it entirely our parent’s fault? Well, it’s easy to blame the old folks, living comfy in the Florida sun on the golf course, drinking iced tea on the lanai. But we really have to blame ourselves.

Yep, we are the ones who saw how much work, time, and heartache would go into living a creative life. Singers and musicians looked at life on the road, and said “Nope, I’ll take the job at the insurance company and the steady paycheck.” Songwriters saw the process to get published and were horrified at the thought of going door to door at music publishers in Nashville.

But now, you’re reading this, and nodding. You know the creative urge has been hidden too long, but you still feel it’s just not something you can ever achieve. Or at the very least, it’s just too risky.

This is the fear, or maybe a more accurate term is trepidation, that holds us back really for no reason. Sometimes, it’s youth that makes us stupid, or life events that make us dig in and tend to them, or sometimes it’s just plain old lack of self-confidence.

Whatever it is, it’s time to let go of that. Let this be your wake up call. You lightbulb moment. As the saying goes “What would you do today if you knew you could not fail?”

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

What talent would you unleash on the world, that could maybe change the drab, workaday existence that you have been putting up with, into a life where every day getting up is an adventure to see what will happen new with your creativity?

“But Eric,” you say, quite pitifully, and doing your best to hold off a life direction you know you’ve been called to. “I’m too old to start all that! I’m 35 with kids! Or I’m 65 and retired.”

Another author both Han and I love, and I talk a lot about her writings, is Julia Cameron. In her book The Artist’s Way she address a student’s concerns about much time they will have to invest to learn their craft.

“When they say, “But do you know how old I will be by the time I learn to really play the piano (or act, or paint, or sing, or write)?” She responds with a simple, “Yes...the same age you will be if you don’t. So let’s start.”

I give you the same challenge. The time to start is now.

Let go of the fear and make some moves this week to get started working on your creative talent.

Have a great week!

Eric Copeland is a creative coach, music producer, and so-called “artistic enabler” that also had to overcome fears of living a creative life, and not just a workaday life, with music on the side. To find out more about what he does for creative Christians, check out

To find out more about Don Hahn (Oscar nominee for Beauty and the Beast, Lion King and more), and his hysterical book, Brainstorm, click here.


  1. Anonymous6:32 AM

    This is exactly what I need to hear! Fear has been holding me back all my adult life! What am I afraid of? God gave me this voice and if I don't use it then what was it for? I feel a push to do something with it, and fear has been the pull that has been stronger than the push. Thank you for your words of wisdom. My heart and soul are listening. And now with my Mom finally going for her life long dream, it's compelling me to listen to my heart.

  2. Go for it! If we can help, go to

    Our first step with all artists is consulting to help you know what to do first.


  3. Eric,
    Your blogs are like a breath of fresh air! Thanks for the renewed motivation!

  4. Thanks Barbara! That is exactly what we like to hear!


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About the Author

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Eric Copeland is an author, producer, keyboardist, songwriter, and president of Creative Soul Companies. What is Creative Soul? Our main goals are to inform, encourage, and assist Christian creative folks in ministry, no matter where they are in their journey. Thanks for reading! Find out more about us at