The Creative Process: requires courage

January 17, 2014 Writing  One comment

 The Creative Process series is my way of trying to understand how creative people create.

The creative process is the way in which an artist creates or brings something new into being. It’s the vision; the crafting of an idea; the act of sculpting, painting, molding, filming, acting, writing; it’s the drafting process; the editing process; the act of engaging oneself wholly; it’s taking what one see’s in their imagination and bringing it forth into the world.

In my last post, The Create Process: is confrontation, I talked about the idea that that artist is always in conflict with the world around them.

Confrontation takes courage. To engage takes courage. To create requires courage.

In The Courage to Create, Rollo May talks about moral courage and social courage. Moral courage is the courage “to let one’s self see the social suffering of other people.” Whereas, social courage is “the courage to relate to other human beings, the capacity to risk oneself in the hope of achieving meaningful intimacy.”

It takes a lot of courage to feel, not only to feel and acknowledge your own emotions, but those of others as well. It takes courage to connect to others. It takes courage to look at suffering and make contact with it; it is much easier to turn away and pretend it isn’t there. It is easier to ignore your feelings of despair, depression, anxiety, unhappiness, anger, shame, insecurity, fear, hurt, sadness, even joy and love, than it is to tackle them head on and deal with them.

But to feel is to be truly alive. & to create is to be wholly present.

I love this quote by Jim Morrison: “People are afraid of themselves, of their own reality; their feelings most of all. People talk about how great love is, but that’s bullshit. Love hurts. Feelings are disturbing. People are taught that pain is evil and dangerous. How can they deal with love if they’re afraid to feel? Pain is meant to wake us up. People try to hide their pain. But they’re wrong. Pain is something to carry, like a radio. You feel your strength in the experience of pain. It’s all in how you carry it. That’s what matters. Pain is a feeling. Your feelings are a part of you. Your own reality. If you feel ashamed of them, and hide them, you’re letting society destroy your reality. You should stand up for your right to feel your pain.”

In her book Daring Greatly, Dr. Brené Brown talks about how in this day and age of “Scarcity” or never enough, people actually do not let themselves feel true joy because they believe it is fleeting and something will inevitably come along and take it away. So in order to protect themselves they don’t really allow themselves to feel it. They don’t want to be vulnerable.

But art is vulnerability. To create is to be vulnerable. It takes courage to let yourself truly be seen as you are.

Not only does the actual process of engaging and feeling require courage and vulnerability, but to put your art out into the world takes mass amounts of courage. To let others see what you have created, to let them into your secret inner world, to expose yourself and your weakness and give them easy access to your Achilles heel takes a lot of guts. You’re essentially handing them a steel-tipped dagger and marking the spot on your chest. You’re vulnerable.

They can tear you down, mock you, criticize you. It takes courage to say, “this is who I am. Take it or leave it.”

It takes courage to accept your gifts, to accept that you might not think they same way that society wants you to. Because sometimes it would be easier if we, as artists, didn’t feel the overwhelming need to create and produce. Sometimes it would be easier if we could just wake up, go to work, come home and watch The Bachelor with a gallon of ice cream without sensing any dissatisfaction or discomfort. It would be easier to go through life, hitting all the checkpoints, without feeling resistance or the need to do things differently. It takes courage to do things differently.

Artists also cannot be afraid of hard-work or failure because both are inevitable. To have the courage to fail means that you believe so much in what you are doing that it is worth it even if all goes wrong. The question isn’t “What would I do if I knew I could not fail?” – but “What is worth doing, even if I do fail?”

With that being said, I leave you with this excerpt from the famous speech given by Theodore Roosevelt now known as The Man in the Arena speech. Take heart!

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”


In my next post, The Creative Process: takes time and flexibility, I will talk about the importance of giving yourself the space to create.

Until next time, farewell, and may your life never cease to be filled with wonder and curiosity.


photo cred: Jody Johnston

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One comment to The Creative Process: requires courage

  • […] my next post, The Creative Process: requires courage, I will delve deeper into how vital courage actually is to creativity. It’s not just […]

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