Stop Taking the Credit for Your Creativity

Many of us struggle with creativity because of one silly thing—we are afraid. Fear is perhaps the most detrimental emotion to creativity. It is because of fear that so many of us resist our innate creative urges—fear of failure, fear of success, fear of change, fear of the unfamiliar and unstable. With all the daunting pressures of modern success and failure, how can anyone actually sit down and create anything anymore?

In our culture, we place high stakes on the Self. Everything is personal. If you create a film that is praised, you are a brilliant success. If your doodle is mocked, you are a failure. If your Instagram photo doesn’t get as many likes as usual, go crawl under a rock and atone for your sins. We link our sense of self worth too indelibly to the things we create, and that makes our fragile Self very vulnerable. And that, above all else, is truly scary.

So in this artistic pressure cooker that is modern life, how is anyone supposed to create anything? Well, we need to redefine our personal relationship with art and creativity, because it ain’t working for most of us. More precisely, we need to stop taking the personal credit (and blame) for the outcome of our creations. To further this point, let us turn to Elizabeth Gilbert’s book on creative living, “Big Magic”:

“But the Greeks and the Romans both believed in the idea of an external daemon of creativity—a sort of house elf, if you will, who lived within the walls of your home and sometimes aided you in your labors… [The Romans] called it your genius—your guardian deity, the conduit of your inspiration. Which is to say that the Romans didn’t believe that an exceptionally gifted person was a genius; they believed that an exceptionally gifted person had a genius.”

It may be a smart choice to start considering your inspiration and creativity an energy force rather than a vulnerable chunk of your deepest soul. Gilbert asserts that we ought to adopt the perspective of the ancient Romans, who felt that art and genius were the result of magic/divine intervention/daemon visitation. If a work was seen as profound and brilliant, the ancient Romans would express gratitude for the genius who had visited the artist with such inspiration (rather than lauding the artist himself, which can cause the ego to reel). If the worked sucked, oh well, guess the gods didn’t shine upon you this time. But at least the artist’s fragile ego is allowed to remain intact. In this way, creativity was more akin to a source of universal magic than it was to the Self. And that is a much healthier, less frightening outlook.

If you think about it, adopting this type of mindset could relieve many artists of the toll creativity takes on the mind, like creativity-induced anxiety, depression, and swollen or shattered egos.

“It’s a subtle but important distinction (being vs. having) and, I think, it’s a wise personal construct. The idea of an external genius helps to keep the artist’s ego in check, distancing him somewhat from the burden of taking either full credit or full blame for the outcome of his work.”

Gilbert wants us to banish our feelings of ‘not good enough’. Instead, we should pursue creative ventures by relishing in the joy of the work. Sure, things can get a little messy and difficult, but the overall effect should be one of creative bliss, not a slow and painful death. (If your creative pursuits make you that unhappy, why are you even doing them? Life is too short to practice something that you find torturous.)

“But in order to live this way—free to create, free to explore—you must possess a fierce sense of personal entitlement, which I hope you will learn to cultivate.”

Every single one of us has a right to be here on the planet. Every single one of us has a right to create. Creativity is not just for the select few—those who were deemed talented or special during their teenage years. It is a natural human instinct. It is bigger than you. It is knit into the fabric of the universe. So why are you fighting it with fears about not being good enough (or being too good and attracting unwanted attention)? Creativity and art simply enrich the human experience. Stop wasting your time wondering whether you are truly worthy of a creative life. You are. Now go create something.

You do not have to be a tortured artist in order to create art. In fact, you’ll probably create your best work when you’re happy. That is when the mind is clearest and most receptive to the rumblings of the vast universe. Yes, the fear will always be there. It is part of the creative journey. But we need to stop letting fear run our creative lives.

As Gilbert writes at the start of any new creative endeavor, “Dearest Fear: Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together. I understand you’ll be joining us, because you always do. . . . But understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way. . . . Dude, you are not even allowed to touch the radio.”

Take charge of your creativity, but stop making it so personal. It’s okay if you’re afraid, but don’t let that put a halt on all the beautiful things you could be bringing into this world. Sure, they won’t all be good. In fact, some of them will be pretty bad. But who cares? Fill the world with all the songs, gardens, dances, films, books, blogs, podcasts, pastries, buildings, inventions you can and stop worrying about what people will think. Just be happy and create. That’s what you are on this planet to do, after all.

Related:
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57 comments

Marija M
Marija Mohoric3 days ago

thank you for posting.

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Mike R
Mike Rabout a month ago

Thanks

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Mike R
Mike Rabout a month ago

Thanks

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Mike R
Mike Rabout a month ago

Thanks

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Mike R
Mike Rabout a month ago

Thanks

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Ruth S
Ruth S4 months ago

Thanks.

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Carl R
Carl R4 months ago

Thanks!!!

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Carl R
Carl R4 months ago

Thamnks!!!

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Margie FOURIE
Margie FOURIE4 months ago

Thank you

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Leo C
Leo Custer4 months ago

Thank you for posting!

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