Everybody has their own unique creative process. Mine is to panic.
This probably comes as a surprise to no one. After all, I am not known as a particularly calm person when it comes to my creative endeavors.
It always starts out the same. I will get cast in a role or think of a project and I will get ridiculously excited.
I will practice and brainstorm. I will experiment and play. I will have the time of my life.
And then, whether it’s 3 days later or 3 months later, there comes that feeling in the pit of my stomach.
That nagging, awful feeling that only grows the more I try to ignore it.
The feeling that I have made a fatal error.
That I am clearly not cut out for this project.
And that no matter what I do…
The project I am a part of will turn into…
And it’s my fault.
And I will let everyone down.
And that those people who are involved in it have completely lost their faith in me.
And that they hope I will quit or get replaced.
Because clearly I am not the person they hoped I would be.
And that they hate my frizzy hair.
And my inability to do the splits.
Everything I have done up until this point has been a fluke.
It would probably be better if I had just decided to be an accountant. Or a baker. Or someone who actually makes a difference in the world.
Or better yet, not to have existed at all.
It would be best for everyone if I just quit writing and acting altogether.
And so on.
My creative partners suffer through many of my rants. Which only makes me panic more that I am slowly but surely driving them off. The fact that they are still around must mean they like being punished.
Somehow miraculously things usually end up working out, I am reminded that I do in fact enjoy writing and acting and creating stories for myself and others to enjoy and much like pregnancy, my brain forgets that painful month of sheer terror and self destruction.
It’s not a cry for attention. Because the thing is every time the Panic happens it feels new. It doesn’t matter that I’ve gone through it about fifty times in the last 10 years, because THIS time. THIS time is different. This is the time that I am going to fail. And everyone else knows it.
Of course the very fact that I am writing this means I am fully aware of the Panic and all that it entails. Over the years I developed ways of controlling it and for the most part, succeeded in learning to cope with it. So why am I writing here now?
Well, over the last couple of years, it has been getting steadily worse again.
I think some of it may have to do with my change of focus. I knew how to deal with the Panic when it came to acting. Acting is easy in one sense: your only job is to show up, walk up onto a stage, and say your lines. Oh, there are other details in there like emotion and method and not making funny faces at the audience but at the core of it, it’s just performing.
When I had a problem, when the Panic would start coming, I had a director. Who could reassure me. That he (or she) had everything under control and that I was doing a fine job and all I had to worry about was just doing my job. And then I could tell myself that yes, he (or she) DID have everything under control, and they believed me, so I should believe in me. And then the Panic would subside.
Now I’m writing. And producing. And editing. All brand new, scary things in which I have not much clue in what I’m doing. And with all of these new things, there has been a new dimension added to the Panic, one I had not anticipated.
For you see, I have no higher ups anymore. I am my own higher up. And that new feeling keeps clawing at me. The feeling that it’s all up to me.
And that I am completely.
Of course there is that small part that knows it’s not true. I have creative partners and friends who will be there for me. But at the moment, the Panic is far greater than any of that.
More than anything, it’s absolutely annoying. Because with the Panic comes a complete lack of productivity also known as “doing all the things”.
I should search for locations!
Nope. Pile of doom.
I should rehearse my script!
Forget it. Pile of doom.
I should look into renting equipment!
What part of pile of doom did you not understand?!
I have been devising new ways of getting rid of the Panic. Although sometimes, in the government conspiracy that is my brain, I fear that it’s the Panic making these decisions:
Me: Hey Brain, I need to deal with this.
Brain: No problem! Let’s quit!
Brain: You won’t panic anymore if you quit! So quit!
Me: Braaaaaaiiiin…are you the Panic in disguise?
Brain: What?! No, of course not! I am the logical part of your brain!
(bangs from the closet in my brain)
Me: Panic…did you lock Brain in the closet?
Panic: HE WAS TAKING UP TOO MUCH ROOM! TALKING ABOUT CRAZY STUFF LIKE CONFIDENCE AND TAKING RISKS! PAH! QUIT!
But it’s okay.
Because I’m writing about it.
Which means I don’t WANT the Panic to win.
And that I want to have fun.
Because my script? Is awesome.
At least in my eyes.
And it might fail. And the Panic might have been right.
But until I find out, I will have to continue telling the Panic that is full steaming poo.
And sometimes, I might need help telling the Panic that.
So if I come running up screaming at you that all is lost…
Just know that it is the Panic. And that I am fighting it. And that I might need a hug or a reassurance. Or bacon. Bacon works too.