What Are Your Creative Demons?

Demons are part of every creativity story. Twyla Tharp, a fellow creative, writes about the demons that interfere with her “creative habit.” (The daily work of being creative.) She names five, based on needs:

  • People will laugh at me.
  • Someone has done it before.
  • I have nothing to say.
  • I will upset someone I love.
  • Once executed, the idea will never be as good as it is in my mind.

In The Creative Habit, she writes,

In those long and sleepiness nights when I’m unable to shake my fears sufficiently, I borrow a biblical epigraph from Dostoyyevsky’s The Demons: I see my fears being cast into the bodies of wild boars and hogs, and I watch them rush to a cliff where they fall to their deaths. It’s a little more extreme than counting sheep, but it’s a lot more effective for me.Twyla Tharp

She says that she realizes this is a late night head game but she does it to provide herself comfort.

What isn’t a head game is the impulse to play it safe.


When we listen to our fears, we gravitate toward the comfort and ease of consumption.

We inhibit ourselves

In Think Like a 5 Year Old, my book on creativity, I also write about demons – the fears that try to keep me from doing what I’m made to do. These forces appeared in Jesus’ creativity story, in Luke 4. I identify three and give them names for reference. Here they are, and the temptation each one dangles in front of me:

  • Stone suggests I accept the lesser, half-finished thing instead of hold out for wonder and greatness.
  • Rex would have me beat my drum in pride over all that I make.
  • Smith advises that it is normal and right to exert control over my own creative process.

These fears impede our calling. They steal our God-given impulse to create and replace it with the impulse to consume.

Our fears can seem scary, but they’re all bark and no bite. Their only power is that which we freely give them. The key to overcoming these fears is to squash them with the truth. While in a creative desert, Jesus cites Scripture to chase away the demons.

In your wilderness, what do you know to be true? Here is creative truth:

You are made to be creative.

God created humanity in God’s own image, in the divine image God created them. – Genesis 1:27

In Christ, your creativity is restored.

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17

God’s design for your life is to do good things with your creativity.

We are God’s accomplishment, created in Christ Jesus to do good things. God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives. – Ephesians 2:10


So if you’re hearing demons rattling around your dreams, ignore them. They are all sound and fury, signifying nothing.

What demons can you identify in your life that are inhibiting your creativity?


About the Author

Len Wilson

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Christ follower. Storyteller. Strategist. Writer. Creative Director at St Andrew. Tickle monster. Author, Think Like a Five Year Old (Abingdon).