The ability to do something that frightens one.That’s courage.
Ever since I was a kid I’ve been told I was creative. It’s like a name badge I walk around with. “Hello, I’m creative.” I don’t mind it. I like being creative. But it also scares me.
“I will view the film and then come up with ideas. These ideas are still a mystery to me; I don’t know where they come from. They’re just suddenly in my mind’s eye.” —Dan Perri
Creativity is not something you try, it’s something you trust. When I sit down to work on a logo for a client, or to draw a new pinup, or to write a short story, I’m jumping off a ledge. It reminds me of the scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Indy takes a “leap of faith” into the void and ends up on solid ground (spoiler if you haven’t seen it). I may be taking the steps, but I’m trusting there is something solid under my feet.
“The frightening and most difficult thing about being what somebody calls a creative person is that you have absolutely no idea where any of your thoughts come from, really. And especially, you don’t have any idea about where they’re gonna come from tomorrow.” —Hal Riney
I don’t think creativity bubbles up from inside me. It’s more like a well. Something I dip into. Something millions of “creatives” dip into and have for millenia. We fill our buckets, pour them out, and hope like hell that there is more water when we go back. I think a purely internal trust, an untethered attempt at building without boundaries just leads to chaos (the opposite of creation).
“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.” —C. S. Lewis
If I imagine creativity as personal instead of aetherial, then I can start to build trust with it. There is little else more frightening than putting your faith in someone else. I think that is why Henri Matiesse said, “Creativity takes courage.” Putting the thing you do, the thing you are into the hands of someone else is frightening. But it is also liberating.
That intersection of fear and faith is where I live. Where most creatives—if pressed—might admit they live. But we courageously pick up our pencils, brandish them in the light of a new day, and charge up our hill.