4 Reasons We Stop Creating

Len WilsonArtists, Creativity, Culture, Faith, Innovation, PassionLeave a Comment

There are very few great second chapters in creative careers. Let’s name a few. Steve Jobs at Pixar. LeBron, maybe. (Playing basketball is creative, right?)

Any others?

The list is short.

What happens after you’ve created something good? The only time most of us are ever creative is when we’re ignorant, desperate or completely secure and balanced. And the third one never happens, anyway, so what do we do when we lose our ignorant bliss and our desperate hunger?

After I finished the first draft of my last book, I was so exhausted that I didn’t write a word for over a month. Instead, I sat on the couch and played a city simulator game. I got completely addicted to it.

But one day I turned it on and sensed that my respite had turned into avoidance. I turned it off and started writing that day, and haven’t booted up the game since.

Rest and consumption are different. I was moving from the former to the latter. And the book was about the very process I was experiencing. Writing about it didn’t exorcise the demons, apparently.

What I wrote – a good section of Think Like a Five Year Old – is that there are four reasons we quit creating. Here they are:

  1. Self-defeat
  2. Self-glory
  3. Discomfort with a lack of control
  4. Fatigue

All four lead to a desire for comfort. In all cases, we retreat. Drink, entertainment, people, money. We tell ourselves we’ll get to it again, but the reality is we avoid it. Couches are comfy.

I think this happens both in our lives and in society. We prefer comfort. Maybe this is original sin. We retreat from the God-given impulse to create and toward the fear-based impulse to relax.

Creativity is a sacred act. We know this because when we create, we’re acting out of the likeness of the one who made us. When we create, we get a glimpse of the character of God, right in our own hands, imaged in us.

Because we’re a marred image, though, it drains us. We cannot sustain it without rest, which eventually introduces consumption.

This means that every time we get up off the couch again, we are exercising courage, and living an act of faith.


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Len Wilson

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