Creativity Blocks #003: Fear of the Unknown

It’s natural for us to fear the unknown. Like all fears, this can start at an early age and remain with us for most of our lives.

When it comes to embarking on a creative project – or specifically not-embarking on a creative project – it can be somewhat debilitating.

The signs that this is happening in your life are:

  • You are a bit of a control freak and won’t start working until you know exactly each step of the way
  • You spend more time planning than doing
  • When you start creating, doubts about your ability start to sneak in which you use as excuses to stop

To add more complexity and confusion, there are actually classes of unknown-ness.

Known Knowns

There’s obviously the stuff we know we know – the Known Knowns – at least that is until we find out whatever we thought we knew, we didn’t know that well after all.

There’s stuff we know we don’t know – the Known Unknowns – for example, for writers, who is going to publish our bestseller.

There’s a weird category of Unknown Knowns – these are things we know but didn’t know we knew. I love it when authors are actually quite surprised that people like reading their stuff. They were just not be quite aware of it.

Finally there are the Unknown Unknowns – these are the bĂȘte noires to creatives – these are the demons that can stop us in our tracks.

Strategies for Getting to Know the Unknowns

1. Just accept we don’t have to know everything and getting to know things, make mistakes is part of the rich tapestry of life

2. Remind yourself that not trying is failure and giving it a go is success

3. Know that all you need to know is to know how to find out someone who does know

4. Learn how to use boolean searches on Google, Twitter and Wikipedia – and if you don’t know what a boolean search is or why they are useful just click here – take this as a tip from a person who knows

5. Use Cross Crawling and Mind Mapping to suppress the ‘critical’ left brain

6. Write down three things you think you know and three things you think you don’t know – then have a think about them.

7. Learn something new every day, no matter how small – for example, I subscribe to the Words for the Day from and Visual Thesaurus so each day I improve my vocabulary … details on this blog

Incidentally, I find out daily that words that I thought I knew the meaning of – I really didn’t.

The Known Knowns weren’t quite what I thought they were !!!