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Embracing Even The Pain of the Creative Process – Part 2

[See Part 1]

Many artists use creative expression to explore and express pain in life, but does creative work itself have to be painful for most of us?

Frida Kahlo paintingFrida Kahlo painted a series of self-portraits as a depiction of the years of treatment (including orthopedic appliances) she had to endure after a devastating spinal cord injury as a teenager.

See more in article: Pain and suffering and developing creativity.

Creativity coach and author Julia Cameron comments on part of the challenge of being actively creative:

“Creativity involves process, and process involves change. The truism we often hear is that we often resist change because change is difficult or change is painful.

“This is not quite accurate. It is the resistance to change that is difficult or painful. In the same way, it is the resistance to our creativity that causes us to equate it with suffering.”

Living a creative life and stress

A description for one of the weekly sessions of the online course Your Best Life in the Arts, by Eric Maisel, says:

“Life produces stress, the artistic personality produces additional stress, creating produces even more stress, and living the artist’s life is the topper! Learn how to identify the stressors in your life and how to implement stress management techniques…”

Dr. Maisel also comments about anxiety for creative people: “For someone who’s self-identified as a writer, painter, composer, scientist, inventor, and so on, his identity and ego are wrapped up in how well he creates—and when what we do matters that much, we naturally get anxious.”

[From my post Eric Maisel on his course “Your Life in the Arts”]

In this video – “Acquiring a Creative Mind” – Maisel expands on the idea of questioning if we “have no talent” – a kind of existential dread that can be deeply stressful for some creative people.

Dr. Maisel comments, “People who aren’t currently creative or who have always wanted to be creative and have difficulties getting started, think that it’s something about talent: that maybe they’re not quite talented enough and actually they are very disappointed in themselves and maybe even depressed because maybe they have a masters in fine arts or a masters in creative writing and they can’t quite understand why they can’t get their creative work done.

“And from my point of view, it is most often about them not being able to get their mind quiet enough for ideas to percolate.”

Eric Maisel, PhD is the author of many books to help people enhance their creative work, including:

Creativity for Life – which is the textbook for his online course Your Best Life in the Arts.

A final quote by Julia Cameron:

“It is important to remember that ‘effort’ and ‘suffering’ are two different things.”

She is author of The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.

Her later book is Walking in this World: The Practical Art of Creativity.

Her quotes are from the site for Julia Cameron Live – an online course and artists’ community based on The Artist’s Way and led by Julia.


Embracing Even The Pain of the Creative Process – Part 2

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.]
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2013). Embracing Even The Pain of the Creative Process – Part 2. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 14, 2020, from


Last updated: 12 Oct 2013
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