In a blog post, “What is Creativity?,” Maria Popova quoted designer Charles Eames on the cultural obsession with the creative process:
“Recent years have shown a growing preoccupation with the circumstances surrounding the creative act and a search for the ingredients that promote creativity. This preoccupation suggests we are in a special kind of trouble — and indeed we are.”
The proliferation of websites, blogs, MFA programs, and art schools teaching creativity suggests Eames’ concerns have gone unheeded (thankfully). Nevertheless, he was correct to point to the shadow side of constantly striving “for the ingredients that promote creativity.”
It’s not that there is a problem with the desire to learn the nuts and bolts of a craft or art, but rather the constant pursuit of artistic habits can often become a defense against the inevitable shadow side of the creative process.
To master a craft or art, or finish a long project, you can’t avoid the shadow — the fear, shame, loneliness, and self-loathing that can cause you to waver in commitment and doubt your abilities. And yes, quit if you don’t learn how to deal with the shadow….
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