Home » Blogs » The Creative Mind » Creative Passion or Just Doing What You Really Want

Creative Passion or Just Doing What You Really Want

Passion can be a deep motivator for creative people, but being too concerned with “finding our passion” can be self-limiting.

“The presence of talent is not sufficient. Many people have more than one talent, and wonder what to do with them.”

Jane Piirto, Ph.D. adds in her book “Talented Children and Adults” that “A useful explanation comes from Socrates, who described the inspiration of the Muse… Carl Jung (1965) described the passion that engrosses; depth psychologist James Hillman described the presence of the daimon in creative lives.”

She considers this passion and inspiration “the thorn, because it bothers, it pricks, it causes obsession until it has its way, until the person with the talent begins to work on developing that talent.”

From my post Creative Passion and Gifted Adults: Prodded by Our Angelic and Demonic Muse.

Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love and other books) believes “If you are serious about a life of writing, or indeed about any creative form of expression, you should take on this work like a holy calling.”

She adds, “I became a writer the way other people become monks or nuns. I made a vow to writing, very young. I became Bride-of-Writing.”

From my post Creative Passion: Teeming Neurons or Muse?

Making the world small enough to engage with

Susan Orlean in her book “The Orchid Thief” writes about an interesting aspect of passion: “I was starting to believe that the reason it matters to care passionately about something is that it whittles the world down to a more manageable size. It makes the world seem not huge and empty but full of possibility.”

Of course, it takes more than simply feeling passionate about something. The elements of experience, focus and persistence are also crucial.

But many people may find the advice to “Find your passion” to be useless or even fearful.

Author Daniel Pink has said, “I find that question very daunting: What’s your passion? I find that almost paralyzing, in a way. I find it less paralyzing to say, What are you interested in doing next?”

See the video in which he makes these comments in my post It takes more than feeling passionate.

In his ebook “FLIP: 16 Counter Intuitive Ideas About Motivation, Innovation, and Leadership” [available for free by signing up to his list, on his site] he notes when a friend or family member, a mentor, advisor, or consultant asks: “What’s your passion?” his reaction is, “I detest that question. When someone poses it to me, my innards tighten. My vocabulary becomes a palette of aahs and ums. My chest wells with the urge to flee.”

He thinks many people share that reaction, and that “maybe we can take a break from this daunting and distracting question and ask a far more productive one: What do you do?”

He “learned the wisdom of this alternative from Gretchen Rubin,” he explains: “After graduating from law school in the early 1990s, Rubin served as a law clerk for the US Supreme Court…perhaps the sweetest plum in the American legal orchard. It practically guarantees a career of high-level positions in law firms and government.”

But during her job, Rubin says, “When I had free time, I never wanted to talk about cases or read law journals, the way my fellow clerks did. Instead, I spent hours reading, taking notes and writing my observations about the worldly passions—power, money, fame and sex.”

[See more quotes by Rubin in my post Happy If We Think We Are.]

Daniel Pink continues in his book about his similar journey: “Beginning about two decades ago, I worked in some very demanding, intensely stressful jobs in American politics and government.

“But throughout—on the side, usually for no money—I wrote magazine articles about business and work, and formulated ideas for books. At one level, it was foolish. I lost sleep, sacrificed leisure, and probably distracted myself from my paid employment.

“But after many years, it finally hit me: This—not politics—is what I did. And now, as a result, that’s what I do. Am I passionate about it? Sure, I guess. Maybe. Some days. But passion isn’t something I much ponder. I’m too busy doing what I do.”

In 2011, Harvard Business Review and Thinkers 50 named Daniel Pink one of the top 50 business thinkers in the world. He is a graduate of Northwestern University and Yale Law School.

Books by Daniel H. Pink:

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.

A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future.

Photo at top from article 8 Ways to Turn Your Passion into Profits, by Ali Brown.

Another related post: Passion Fuels Creative Expression.


Creative Passion or Just Doing What You Really Want

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
~ ~
Some excerpts from The Creative Mind are included in his newsletter .
~ ~

Emotional Health Resources - Programs, books, articles and sites to improve your emotional wellbeing.

No comments yet... View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Eby, D. (2012). Creative Passion or Just Doing What You Really Want. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 14, 2020, from


Last updated: 26 Oct 2012
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.