During her 2009 TED Talk: Your Elusive Creative Genius, writer Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love, discussed the pressure of releasing another book after the smash of Eat, Pray, Love. Gilbert said people would come up to her asking “are you nervous your next book won’t be as big as a success?” She laughed this notion off because when she was starting out as a writer, people often questioned if she would ever be successful.
Pressure, as Gilbert explained, can be a creative person’s biggest antagonist during the creative process. Pressure from outside forces or one’s own ego can cause anxiety to occur, derailing the process.
“I think that allowing somebody, one mere person to believe that he or she is like, the vessel, you know, like the font and the essence and the source of all divine, creative, unknowable, eternal mystery is just a smidge too much responsibility to put on one fragile, human psyche,” Gilbert said. “It just completely warps and distorts egos, and it creates all these unmanageable expectations about performance.”
She went on to say that this mindset has been tormenting writers and other creatives for years. So what is the best way to deal with this conundrum? Gilbert said that many people have different ways of ridding themselves of the anguish of trying to come up with the next great novel or catchy song. And people’s anxiety about finishing the project or thinking of the next success can affect this. But she said the best way to deal with this situation is to step back and reflect on the situation.
“And what I have to sort of keep telling myself when I get really psyched out about that is don't be afraid. Don't be daunted. Just do your job,” she said. “Continue to show up for your piece of it, whatever that might be. If your job is to dance, do your dance.”