Pamela Wilson

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Is Creative Avoidance Sinking Your Business?

Creative avoidance = A good way to stay busy getting nothing done

Creative avoidance happens to all of us, and if I hadn’t experienced it myself, I wouldn’t be able to write about it!

It’s that limbo-land where you get stuck trying to figure out what colors or fonts to use, or what your new business name should be. It seems like important work, and it is — but if you are paralyzed by these decisions and don’t move forward, your business will suffer.

What’s really driving creative avoidance?

Creative avoidance is driven by fear. It’s fear of three things:

  1. Fear of failure
  2. Fear of success (which might be even scarier than failure)
  3. Fear of all the work you’ll need to do to market your business once these branding decisions have been made

How to make branding decisions and move past your fear

The solution to creative avoidance is to remember these three realities:

  • SOME decision is always better than NO decision.
  • Branding is not a life-or-death deal. Your business won’t sink or swim because your colors are a little off, or you haven’t combined fonts correctly.
  • You can always tweak your brand in the future, or even overhaul it completely if it’s not working.

Have you experienced creative avoidance?

Does creative avoidance sound like something that’s happened to you before? Are you dealing with it now? Let’s talk about it in the comments. We’ve all been there!

Pamela Wilson

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20 thoughts on “Is Creative Avoidance Sinking Your Business?”

  1. How true this is! All the work I have to do once I’ve made those decisions, was my hurdle, and I think, still is! And really, making the wrong branding decisions is always on my mind, especially with my new website as I’m dealing with a totally different kind of customer than when I started my online business.

    Great video Pamela. I’d like to see you do more videos like this.

  2. When I first read the title of the post I thought ‘No way – not me.’ But yes, we all suffer from this from time to time. I have been working on a logo for the writing and dream-coaching business I want to build, but realized I needed to slow down and focus on the things that will really build the business. The logo will work itself out and I can always revise it. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Nicole, I’m glad the post was useful.

      Part of the problem is that working on your visual brand is kind of fun! It’s tempting to focus on it endlessly, to the detriment of other more important tasks.

      Good luck. And you’re right: the logo will work itself out. It may even be a better logo if you create it after you’ve got the business up and running!

  3. You are so right, Pamela! Guilty as charged! The creative thinking is the fun part – but it’s also the crutch and an easy way to procrastinate. Great suggestions, as always!!

  4. Hi, my name is Mary Ellen Hills and I suffer from Creative Avoidance.

    You nailed it on this one. I hate my current website, but I have total fear about designing my new one. – Thanks to you, I have chosen my colors – and some text but that’s it. Thank you for all the great articles.

  5. Thanks for your ongoing investment into the lives of so many of us. You and your business you exemplify (hopefully both pieces) Zig Ziglar’s saying: “You can have everything in life that you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

    The content you share is specific, encouraging, professional, empowering and valuable. Thank you!

    You are one of the few regular email newsletters I get that I make the effort (usually) to read through :^)

  6. I just re-read (for about the 800th time) the War of Art by Pressfield. He talks a lot about this in the form of resistance, and how actually doing the work is really hard.

    My favorite quote out of the book is when he is talking about author Someraut Maugham, who was once asked if he only writes when he’s inspired. He apparently replied, “yes, but fortunately inspiration strikes every day at nine o’clock sharp.”

    My creative avoidance comes in a different form – by doing research. I can easily get lost in hours of Google Scholar looking for just the right data for the blog post I’m working on, when what I have is already good enough.

    • You can’t get too much of The War of Art, that’s for sure!

      What’s so sneaky about this stuff is that it looks completely legit. I mean, what’s wrong with research? Or looking at colors and fonts?

      We have to have the courage to call ourselves on it when we’re using it to avoid other (more productive) stuff. It’s not easy, but I think it gets easier the more you catch yourself in the act. 🙂

  7. Great advice, Pamela! You’re so right about this. I wage a constant war with myself and say “It’s OK, just move on, let it go” even though I’ve cringed at what my blog looks like or haven’t been exactly sure of what I’m doing or where I’m going. But that’s OK. It’s OK to not be sure–just move ahead is what I tell myself.

    And now I’m way past the early cringe stage and on to a new stage (well, a new cringe stage) but knowing now what I have to tell myself–implement! Shut up about fonts and colors already–that will come. And this time around the cringing–creative avoidance– isn’t anywhere near as bad 🙂

    Thanks for the reminder! But good grief I have three fonts on my blog…please don’t visit 🙂

    • Hi Leah,

      It’s almost like a muscle you have to exercise: a “letting it go and moving on” muscle that gets stronger the more you use it. 🙂

      I actually have three fonts on this blog, too. (Don’t tell anyone!)

  8. I have done this many times. At least twice I’ve spent months fretting over website design and not getting much of anything else done (mostly because I LOVE color and worry about overwhelming my site with it). I’ve also read War of Art, but then my procrastination of choice became reading books on how to accomplish things and not procrastinate.

    It is definitely harder to do the work. I think that’s why so many people who’d like to start their own businesses or side projects never do. It can be easier to stay in a job or career that requires doing the work that someone else has put on your plate but may not matter to you on a soul level.

    Personally, my resistance is driven by feeling like there’s so much work to do that it will take forever to get my business to the level that I want it (and that’s after almost 2 years). I have an idea to-do list that’s a mile long. But then, I do actually ENJOY the work. Crazy, huh?

    • I can relate to your comment, Yoneco! It’s a weird tug of war between dreading the amount of work, and loving it at the same time!

      And you’re right: it can be difficult to transition from working on what you’re told to do, and working on what you decide to do all by yourself.

      I find that having a place to keep an idea list can be very helpful. Just knowing that I’ve got it safely stored somewhere helps to get it out of my head so I can focus on the task in front of me.

      And keeping all those ideas in one place allows me to see themes emerge over time: sometimes the same concept comes up over and over, and that’s when I know it’s time to act.

      Thanks for this great comment!

  9. I can so relate to this issue. Some days I should flash a billboard claiming CREATIVE AVOIDANCES R US.
    Thankfully, I’ve learned to move past the fears more often now. But, still, everyone once in a while, urrgghhh.

    • It’s very tempting to get stuck in these decisions, Kat. Don’t feel bad: it happens to all of us!

      That’s why I wanted to talk about it — so we’d all recognize it the next time it happens.

  10. OK – this is one of those posts where you know your client so well, it feels like you are looking over my shoulder!

    ~ I know there’s a hidden webcam in here somewhere~

    What makes me smile is seeing websites that are put together “wrong”, yet are quite successful. It’s because they DID Something. The founders didn’t wait until everything was “perfect”.

    Thanks for another great post!
    Darlene Cary

    • Hee-hee, Darlene! You know, I wanted to talk about it because it’s a universal problem. I promise, I’m not watching you! 😉

      And you’re right: action almost always trumps inaction. The only way to figure out if you’re doing it right or wrong is to do it!

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