The creative life can be extremely difficult. Somedays it can fill you with self-doubt, and even self-loathing. “What a pile of word-dung! Can’t believe I thought THAT was clever yesterday!” or “Really? I just used that same vocal run again? Why can I not seem to come up with anything fresh?”
These are good times to remind ourselves why we thought being a creative was a good idea to begin with. So here’s five reasons creatives create (I hope they encourage you!):
1. We create because we can’t NOT create.
This is a hard one for professional artists to deal with, in particular. When creative expression becomes our day job, expectations increase and creativity gets squashed. Oftentimes hobbyists who turn into professional creatives lose the joy they first experienced because suddenly they’re demanded to create, rather than FREE to create. I experienced this when I began doing music fulltime and performing went from enjoyable and fulfilling to exhausting and dreadful. In the end, I stopped doing music professionally because for me, it was what I needed to do to remain healthy. We have to find our creative expression fulfilling. If we don’t, perhaps we need to take a break from it. Just remember that our health, and our relationship with God and with others, always comes first and foremost.
2. We create to express deep spiritual and emotional truths.
I remember sitting on the edge of my sandbox when I was 6 years old, gnawing on rhubarb, staring at my brother’s half-buried G.I. Joe, feeling overcome by an indescribable sense of adventure and wonder as I imagined the G. I. Joe come to life, digging himself out of a dune after a major sandstorm hit his platoon hard, separating him from his team and pressuring him to dig deep to survive so he could fulfill his duty as a soldier. My imagination compelled my little mind to contemplate the mystery of right and wrong, of life and death, and I found myself similarly compelled to express it in some way…that I hadn’t yet discovered. I could roll the scenes around in my mind, but unless I could express these vague ideas in a tangible way, I felt they were fleeting specters. And so I was driven to create, so in the future I would be prepared. I would be ready.
3. We create because it brings us joy.
God placed in us the desire to create, to form, to invent, to paint, to sing, to direct, to design, to run, to dance, and on and on and on, so that we would enjoy doing these things. Jesus said he came so we could live to the fullest. He created us for freedom, not for slavery. Of course, part of creating is hard work, and hard work does not always make you ecstatic, though it can be extremely rewarding. However, if creating is not bringing you any joy at all, then why continue? Totally joyless creation is usually a sign that our lives are out of balance. That’s okay. We all get out of balance. But if you’re feeling exhausted, why not spend the next half hour on your knees, enjoying the Majesty of our Savior? When he fills us up, we overflow. If we don’t let him fill us up, we’re nothing but an empty vessel.
4. We create because it helps us understand ourselves.
I’ve heard a few people say over the years, “We only know what we mean after we say it.” There’s something about the creative process that helps us work through our own complexities. I like to think of Art as a mirror. The better we form it, the more it helps us see how we fit into the world. Sometimes it can help us see our brokenness. Other times it can help us appreciate how God has made us. But one thing is for sure, good Art is always more illuminating for us (the creative) than for anyone else who enjoys what we create.
5. We create because God creates.
We were made in God’s image. We are God’s Art making more Art. It’s like Inception…only way cooler. 🙂
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