Originally Published January 16th, 2019
A year ago I set out to answer a question—”Why Create?”. Where does creativity come from? Is it learned? Is it something we’re born with?
I was asking myself this question because for whatever reason—I felt called to be a creative. Since I picked up my first camera almost 20 years ago and started taking photos—I’ve felt as if I needed to create things. But why?
My goal was to interview as many creative people as I could and ask them simply, why create? After I gathered enough data I planned on writing a book. Fast forward, I gathered lots of information but the book part didn’t happen.
Do I still plan on writing a book? Yes. But not in regards to this question. You see, I sort of answered my own question, rather, someone way smarter than me answered it. There’s no need for a book. I will sum up my findings in this three part blog series.
The following information is the best evidence I’ve found to support creative endeavors in life. These blogs are meant to be a guide for creative people. It’s my hope that you find this information as motivating & inspiring as I have. I’ve included some resources but I encourage you to do your own research.
Why Create Part 1: Because if you don’t, you’ll just die.
A podcast changed the course of my life.
“The worst thing for creative people is to not be creative because then they just die.” —Jordan B. Peterson
It was more like a series of unrelated yet somehow interconnected podcasts that lead me to discover a man named Jordan B. Peterson. This blog isn’t about Peterson (although I highly recommend his podcasts and books), its about what he said that changed the course of my life. In a talk Peterson gave on August 8th, 2017 he said, “The worst thing for creative people is to not be creative because then they just die.” You can watch the video here.
At the time I heard this I was closing up shop on my photography business. Part of me wanted to sell off all my camera equipment and never take a photo again. I remember joking about it with friends. The winter of 2017 I did stop taking photos. I stopped all creative pursuits and sure enough I got anxious and depressed. Why?
The Big Five Personality Traits
Personality psychologists believe that there are five major personality traits that shape & influence how people behave. Each individual trait represents a range between two extremes. For example, trait “extraversion” would be scored high as extraverted or low as introverted.
These are the big five traits:
There are a ton of free sites where you can take a personality assessments. I recommend using www.understandmyself.com. I took this test for $10 and I think the feedback you get after is well worth the cost.
Why Is This Important?
The biggest revelation I discovered when trying to answer my question was that creativity is a personality trait. Just like being extroverted or agreeable—creativity is something that is instilled within us from birth.
If you are someone who is extroverted, you need social interactions, otherwise you’ll be depressed. That’s because it’s hardwired into your nervous system—its a part of your physical being. The same goes with creativity.
Creativity is associated with the personality trait “Openness“. If you score high in openness, chances are you’re a creative person.
“The closest synonym for openness is creativity. Very open, creative people love beauty. They require an outlet for their creative ability or they cannot thrive. They need to be surrounded by art or beautiful crafts.” —www.understandmyself.com
People who score high in openness tend to be: highly creative, imaginative, love color & architecture, sensitive to music, and are generally artistic in nature.
I’m in the 90th percentile for openness. Which means in a room of 100 people, I’m higher in openness than 90 of the people.
Why Create? Because if you don’t, you’ll just die.
What Peterson meant was that if you’re high in openness and you’re not pursuing a creative outlet—you will not thrive. I can say from experience that this is true. When I’m not pursuing my craft—something is definitely missing from my life and everything just seems kinda blue.
So why create? Because some of us are literally hardwired to do so—it’s just who we are.
Will it make you happy? Not necessarily.
Will it make your life complete? Nope.
Will you make money from it? Ha! You could try, but it ain’t gonna be easy.
Will you become some sort of famous artist? Probably not.
It’s not about money or fame or social media followers—it’s about doing the work that you were meant to do.
Create because you feel called to do it. Create because you were born for it. Create because the muse will drive you insane if you don’t. Create because there’s something inside you that needs to be realized. Create because there’s purpose and meaning in taking on a great responsibility.
Create because what other choice do you have?
“The purpose of life is finding the largest burden that you can bear and bearing it.”
Thank you for reading.
If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below. Also, if you take a personality assessment and would like to share the results feel free to leave those in the comments as well.