Conjuring up an image of Fanny Fear is important.
Gosh, that sounds downright rude but unfortunately, that is how we have to behave towards Fanny Fear. Fanny is short for Frances or Francis, it all depends whether your shoulder blade troll is male or female. My Fanny Fear is female, she has an extended chin which ends at a point and hunched over shoulders as she is always bent over whispering in my ear with a harsh, hissing voice. Therefore, I will be referring to Fanny Fear as “she” throughout this post. However, if you have a male Fanny Fear, please feel free to change the pronoun to “he”. Fanny Fear infiltrates all aspects of our lives. However, in this post I want to concentrate on how this shapeshifter stops us from writing, acting, filming or painting.
Let’s start at the beginning. Fanny Fear will appear in all disguises to actually prevent you from being creative. Fanny Fear will appear in your mind dressed as your spouse, your school friends, your mother or your work colleagues. Fanny Fear is an accomplished mistress of disguise. You’ve been to see a wonderful film or read a book which gave you shivers down your spine. It has created a spark in your mind, you have an idea for a poem, short story, novel, film or painting. Hey, this feels good – you feel uplifted, a shadow starts to cover the feeling. You listen, can you hear something? You realise it’s the most popular girl/ boy in the school grinning at you in your head. All the followers appear and they are laughing. A feeling of darkness blots out your happy, uplifted feeling as you realise they are all mocking your creative work. Your shoulders hunch and you slump – better not risk it.
The Nine Muses from Greek mythology. The Sarcophagus at The Louvre.
You get to 45 and are still getting ideas for stories and other creative things – not as many as you used to do because you bat them away like pesky flies. One day, that creative feeling comes over you again with a renewed strength, it makes you feel good, you want to write your idea down. You’re a grown up now, you don’t need to worry about your school mates making you look stupid. You imagine telling your wife/ husband that you’re going to write. You see them in your head bursting out laughing and saying “what are you wasting your time for, you’ll never get a publisher.” The dark shadow returns and you give it one last go – you imagine telling your mother. In your mind, she smiles and says “that’s nice dear – did you get my tablets?”
Okay, that is a worst case scenario with Fanny Fear. However, I had to do this to point out how Fanny Fear operates. Fanny Fear is not other people; Fanny Fear is how we imagine other people are going to react concerning our creativity.
A woman searches for inspiration – William Adolphe Bouguereau.
Fanny Fear feeds on the fear of being mocked. She sits like a piece of fungus in the back of your mind. Each time she whispers in your ear and conjures up images in your head and you allow it, she grows and flourishes. She is the plague of creative people. The good news is that Fanny Fear can be controlled.
In the first instance, I want you to give Fanny Fear, who might simply be a hissing voice, a pain in your stomach or a dark shadow who looms down on you, a face and body. It is important that you make Fanny Fear as exaggerated as possible, because that is what she is queen of, exaggeration. Okay, we have this troll fixed in your mind, can you see her? Take her in, look her over slowly –make sure that you recognise her. It is important that you attach the look to the dark shadowy feeling, pain in your stomach, or whatever she gives you. Give her a new name if you like. That is step one, recognising Fanny Fear, once you have given her a look and a name – if you think of her every time you start imagining people mocking the fact that you are being creative – the horrible feeling which is associated with this instantly lessens.
The next bit becomes easier with awareness. Be alert because Fanny Fear sneaks up on you at all times. If you are reading a book and stop to think of the wonderful way with language the writer has; Fanny Fear might quietly whisper “Of course, you will never be able to write like that.” Stop! Mentally grab the troll by the ear and face up to it. Tell the piece of fungus, in your mind, that you are working on your writing and one day will be an accomplished writer. It then helps to mentally give the creature a swift boot up the backside and imagine it flying through the air. The more you do this on a regular basis, the less Fanny Fear will visit you.
Once you get Fanny Fear under control – give yourself permission to write, act, film, paint etc… Tell yourself out loud, write it down. You have permission to write, act, film or paint.
Okay, so what are you wasting time here for? Get out there and give Fanny Fear some wellie and then get creating!
Have a wonderful time.