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Abandoning Your Creative Fulfillment

“Art is never finished, only abandoned.”

"paint by numbers!" - By originallittlehellraiserThat quote (attributed to both Leonardo da Vinci and Picasso) is most likely about the process of creating a piece of work – but what about abandoning even the attempt to create something: a painting, novel, smart phone app, new business, or anything substantial?

What if your talents and intelligence have gained success for you in an area that is not particularly creative, but still, deep down, you have a passion to create?

Did you enjoy creating early in life? What stops us from continuing that pleasure? There are, of course, a number of reasons.

In her book The Gifted Adult, Mary-Elaine Jacobsen, PsyD, for example, writes about an experience in fifth grade when her teacher “shredded” a poem she had written:

“She insisted I had copied it from a book, humiliating me in front of the class by bellowing, ‘No one your age could have written such a thing. Shame on you.’ I learned that expressing myself was a dangerous thing to do. Becoming a person of few words was difficult for an enthusiastic extrovert such as myself.”

She adds, “I didn’t understand that the withering feelings I experienced didn’t come from my own fragility or instability. It was the side-effect of a culture that insists on pigeonholing and limiting the creative spirit and uncommon intelligence.

“Though I was taught that uniqueness and individuality were the American way, this proved to be more myth than reality. So I stayed on the approved track and played my prescribed part quite successfully.

“I put away my watercolors and poems and lived a conventional adult life that by most people’s estimation should have been ‘good enough.’

“For a long time I made believe that I was content, because that was true on many fronts. Yet in my quiet times I was bothered by a profound feeling of emptiness, as though I had lost something vital.”

Another example is Tama J. Kieves, a “visionary career catalyst” as described on her site, and an acclaimed author and workshop leader.

But she had to overcome the pressures to keep following a path on which her high intelligence gained her many rewards at too great a spiritual cost because she was denying her creative passions.

She had graduated with honors from Harvard Law School, but left her career as “an overworked attorney” to follow her “soul’s haunting desire to become a writer.”

In her latest book she addresses challenges that many people may face in realizing their creative passions. She points out:

“Keep in mind that today’s mainstream culture sprang up from the fringes, those with different ideas, the rabble-rousers on a distant shore. Thomas Watson, the founder of blue-chip IBM, for God’s sake, said, ‘Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker.’ The establishment always has its roots in uncertainty and the unimaginable.

“In every age, alternative, bold souls have doubted themselves, have been criticized, and have struggled to forge an outlet for their brilliance. But it’s only because they gave ‘the world’ more power than their creativity.”

From her book Inspired and Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work!

Here is a brief clip from a video in which Kieves talks about what may be a common reason people hold back from pursuing their creative interests: negative reactions from ‘the world’ – including family members:

[Ignore “Suggested Clips” – they are automatically added by the video clipping program.]

See full video and more quotes from her book in article: Tama Kieves on inspired desire and new directions.

”A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if they are to be ultimately at peace with themself.”
Abraham Maslow [paraphrased]

[Photo: “paint by numbers!” – By originallittlehellraiser – also used in my article Some Ideas on How To Develop Creativity.]

Concluded in Part 2


Abandoning Your Creative Fulfillment

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). Abandoning Your Creative Fulfillment. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 13, 2020, from


Last updated: 14 Nov 2013
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