Essay: The Motive to Create

For many people (myself included), there are few things quite so difficult as the act of starting something. No matter how much passion for a given subject that I might have, taking the necessary steps to begin the act of creation is always difficult, stressful, and time consuming. Even now, as I write this, my attention is vying for anything other than this essay, ranging from traffic nearby to lint underneath the keys of my laptop keyboard (how frustrating in an innocuous way). I redact my writing as I am writing it, constantly going back and deleting, correcting, amending, which disturbs the flow of getting the intial thought OUT, so I can then move on with the rest of the essay. In so many ways, attempting to write out my thoughts is a waste of time, even before we delve into the psychological censor we impose on ourselves, making it sometimes (often times) emotionally wearing or even painful to write. So why do we write? Why do we draw, or paint, or sculpt, photograph, sing, compose, why do we go through so much trouble to create, go through the growing pains where no part of it even feels rewarding?

We build houses because we need a place to live. So what essential need is satisfied by building a sculpture? Julia Cameron, in The Artist’s Way, said that “The creator made us creative. Our creativity is our gift from God. Our use of it is our gift to God. Accepting this bargain is the beginning of true self-acceptance.” I think that very well might be a major part of it. At the risk of expanding in a possibly pedantic way, we create, even (and sometimes especially) when it is painful to do so, because it our way of communicating spiritually. There is a lot of talk nowadays about different types of intelligence, such as emotional intelligence. There has been at least a few remarks of artists being more emotionally intelligent than, say, a scientist or engineer. But that isn’t necessarily always true, and really doesn’t satisfy the particular way that artists are able to communicate. I think, perhaps, artists of various types (writers, painters, et cetera) have developed a spiritual intelligence. Those individuals who exhibit a natural predisposition towards art have a higher natural spiritual intelligence. I think emotional intelligence and spiritual intelligence are closely related, but the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that they really aren’t the same thing. There is a rampant misconception that artists are automatically more “in tune” with their emotions which, knowing and being related to a variety of artists of varying caliber, I can comfortably say is completely erroneous.