Photographic Montage, Digital Negative Transferred onto Arches 88 Paper, By Pilar Arthur-Snead, Copyright Photographic Expressions All Rights Reserved

A lot of people think that creativity is something that other people are born with. However, I tend to think of creativity as a quality or trait that is part nature and part nurture. Creativity is a habit.

Creativity is fundamental to producing new work. Notice, I did not say it is fundamental to producing “great” work or creating a masterpiece. It’s just fundamental to getting something done. The biggest mistake I think we make with regard to creativity is to attach value to the initial idea or spark of ingenuity.

At the beginning of this year, I decided that I would dedicate some of my creative energy to writing and sharing some of my personal photographic work – hence this blog. Well, today is B-day, blog day, and at the start of the day….

…I had nothing to say.  (which for anyone who knows me is ODD!)

I hadn’t thought about anything in particular with regards to photography or any other topic for that matter. Life was happening all last week. Hopefully, barring any unforeseen cosmic events, life’s not going to stop happening this week.


Heart palpitations.

And verbal internal threats. “Maybe blogging is a bad idea. What the hell am I going to talk about every week for gods knows how long???”

Okay…so you can see the spiral down into the creative abyss as it’s happening. My assessment of the spiral into creative madness is that the root of the internal dialogue is fear. We worry that what we create will not be any good. The reality is though…that maybe it won’t be any good. Okay, but, so what??? If you deem you new creation “not good” you never have to show it to anybody.  The value is not in the result, the value is in the effort and with any luck if you continue to create, you continue to get better. Some work will be good, some work will be great, and perhaps even more of it will just plain suck.

I think it is important for artists to understand the difference between the habit of creation and its result. It’s critical to being able to work for the long haul.  So creativity is not something other people are born with, its something all people can and should cultivate.

For some really interesting thoughts on creativity and art check out these books:

The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it for Life, By Twyla Tharp 

Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils of Art Making, By David Bayles & Ted Orlando 

Letting Go of the Camera: Essays on Photography and the Creative Life, Ed. by Brooks Jensen

On Being a Photographer: A Practical Guide, David Hurn/Magnum in conversation with Bill Jay


2 thoughts on “Creativity is a Habit

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