Creativity requires the courage to take risks in the face of yourself, others, and the unknown.

The creative process demands a lot from the person who engages with it. In retrospect, most creative people agree that the rewards of the creative endeavor are sizable and still, like anything worthwhile, creativity requires taking risks.

Solitude, self-awareness, honesty with self, and vulnerability are some of the areas that require attention from the creative person. They can all be hard to swallow because they require so much of you and yet, they are all propelled into existence through courage and your willingness to take risks.

To create is to be seen (by yourself and others) and to be seen is terrifying. You risk not only being judged, criticized, and analyzed by others, worse by yourself. When you dare to look inside yourself (and let’s face it, that’s rarely easy), face what’s in front of you and turn it into creative endeavor, consciously or not you know the risks, and still, you see it to the end.

Some artists and creative people take these risks because they feel there is no alternative (those with a creative drive). Others, create from a place of fear: the limbo, the purgatory. You give into the fear of rejection, failure, and wanting to avoid seeing parts of yourself you might not care for and create with a lot of constraints and self-imposed limitations. The end result will inevitably carry with it the scars and trauma of this paradoxical internal conflict: a disjointed endeavor and not your best.

Creating from a place of fear does not equal failure, however, in an attempt to protect yourself from getting hurt you are putting yourself in a position of over-exposure: your creative project (whatever that is) will reflect exactly what you are trying to hide. It’s a lose-lose situation because

  • you don’t get to expand your creative potential and do your best work out of fear, and
  • you compromise your vision with the expectation of feeling safe and protected which in the end leads you to exposing yourself even more.

Creating involves risk taking also because, as history will show you, there is quite the gap between your imagination and the execution of what you are trying to create. We rely on our imagination to (in part) envision what will be. The end product of our creative endeavor is almost always less than what we imagined; there’s always a great gap between what we thought it will be (look like, sound like) and what is. We blame this gap on talent (lack of), choice of media used, the limitations of our chosen materials, and techniques utilized, etc. In reality, this gap is comprised by the Unknown; the things we fool ourselves into believing we have full control over, when in fact, we don’t.

Every single choice you make when you create something, will take you further away from the image you had originally while at the same time leaving you with an enormous number of possibilities for what’s to come. It may feel like you are at a loss when in reality it’s an unrecognized gain.

It is impossible to incorporate every great idea you or others have had into one piece alone. Each thing you “miss” when you create is potentiality for the future, another step in the life-long process of growth in creativity.

Creating with imperfections and flaws requires that you take the risk of admitting to yourself and the world that you, as a human being and a creative, are flawed and imperfect and that your work is as well; that just like everyone else, you are constantly becoming and your work is as well.

You take the risk of exploring and revealing your humanity despite that internal pull to demand perfection and the ever present thought that the rest of the world demands the same.

Unless you aim for comfort and stagnation, taking risks is imperative to the creative process because it pushes your boundaries and expands your self-imposed limitations in exchange for a level of personal and creative growth you have yet to imagine. After all, in creativity the possibilities are endless; it is the creative person that either chooses to take the risk to explore them or not.

Photo credit: krysdecker