Feed the Beast: Why Creativity is So Hard
I wanted to write today about a subject that is very close to my heart. It’s a universal trait that all humans share, and which almost everyone struggles with throughout their lives. However for professional creatives, it tends to be a need that is a bit louder, a bit more pervasive in everyday life. One of my good friends says this is probably because professional creatives tend to be a bit more emo about things. They’re more aware of it overall. I would agree that this is probably true.
I’m talking about an inner struggle that I like to call Feeding the Beast. The Beast exists in everyone, and its demands seem to be simple; work on something you are invested in and love often, or I’ll make you miserable.
The only way to quench The Beast’s appetite is also simple; do something you love to do often. Whether it’s writing, drawing, gardening, woodworking, exercising, cooking, or something else that lights you up inside. The thing or things you are most passionate about, it wants you to do. Ignore it for too long, and suffer the consequences.
These consequences can be things like:
- depressive moods
- feeling lethargic
- feelings of being worthless
- loss of purpose in life
In extreme cases I believe it can contribute to things like:
- drug addiction
- serious mental health problems
I recently had a pretty bad week, and once I started writing again the last couple of days, I’ve felt much better despite how bad things were.
That urge and need that your Beast requires can and will spill over into other parts of your life as a destructive force if it isn’t satisfied. I notice in myself if I don’t practice the things I love, I’m prone to not feeling great about things.
Artists can tend to be more sensitive to this need, I know I am.
There is a book about creativity that I absolutely love by author Steven Pressfield. It’s called The War of Art. It can get a little preachy and religious at points. Steven is a Christian and a lot of his metaphors exist in that context.
However it is a book I highly recommend buying if you’re struggling with your own Beast. It’s also pretty affordable. Here’s a link:
Steven talks about a force called Resistance. It’s the tension you have towards working on something you love. It’s the force that keeps you can from quenching The Beast’s appetite. I avoid personal creative projects all the time, and I’m a professional artist. I know it’s because of a force like Resistance.
When you invest in something you love, a lot is at stake, and you can and will feel vulnerable, unsure, and exposed. For a lot of people this is a frightening experience to have.
Being vulnerable means you have to express yourself and expose your thoughts and ideas to other people. Thoughts and ideas you really care about.
It’s like showing your tender underbelly to the world and asking the world to like it and please not hate you for showing it to them. That is terrifying for many people to experience, so a lot tend to avoid doing it at all.
What are some of your own struggles with your Beast? Do you make a habit to feed it regularly? If not, what tends to happen to you?
It’s important to know your own needs as a human being and fulfill them. Proper use of creative energy is so important to living a happy life.
So feed that Beast, and stay healthy and happy.