Why Aren’t You Creating Just for Fun?

Do you ever create simply for the joy of it? Whether it’s sculptures, drawings, songs, stories, or even growing flowers—do you engage in these activities without worrying about their importance or purpose? If not, what’s stopping you? Is it a belief that you’re not creative, a feeling that it’s a waste of time, or maybe you just don’t see the point?

Cover of the book Elizabeth Gilbert, in her inspiring book “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear,” suggests that this is precisely where the point lies. Your creative endeavors don’t need to have a grand purpose. They don’t have to change the world or save lives. Their value lies in adding color, fun, and joy to your life.

Can you think of a better use of your limited time on this earth than enriching it with your own creativity?

 

Creativity Often Takes a Back Seat

Remember when you were a child, effortlessly engaging in creative activities just for fun? My childhood was filled with such moments—a love for any kind of art project, approached with great enthusiasm.

However, as we grow older, this spontaneous creation often fades away. Why does this happen? There are many reasons. In the schools I attended in Japan, creativity wasn’t prioritized. Art classes weren’t seen as crucial as other “core” subjects. Whether it was during intense preparations for high school entrance exams, focusing on college admissions, or even the pursuit of a good job, art and creativity seemed to consistently fall by the wayside.

This trend often continues into our adult lives. Once we embark on our careers, the return to creating purely for the joy of it becomes increasingly rare. We often find ourselves acting more as consumers than creators, spending our time watching TV, surfing YouTube, or purchasing what others have made. We do this without fully realizing that our time on this earth is very limited, particularly the time that we can dedicate to creative endeavors.

Attempts to re-engage with our creative side might happen. But these efforts are usually sporadic and sometimes deferred to the distant dream of retirement. Over time, it can feel as though our “creative synapses” have been pruned due to long periods of inactivity. This makes the prospect of reigniting that once-vibrant spark a daunting challenge. Many, faced with this difficulty, choose to give up entirely.

Yet, if you’re yearning to reignite your creative flame, “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear,” by Elizabeth Gilbert offers you inspiration. Let’s explore her book’s key insights, focusing on three pivotal themes: Perception, Curiosity, and Perfectionism—each vital for reawakening your dormant creativity.

Forget Who You Are (Even Temporarily!)

Over the years, you’ve likely developed a certain perception of who you are, shaped by habits and societal roles. Often, creativity doesn’t seem to fit into this well-established framework.

So, the first step towards embracing your creative self is to disrupt these patterns, even if it’s just temporarily. Breaking away from long-standing habits and perceptions can be more challenging than forming new ones. It’s usually harder to unlearn than to learn. But the message Gilbert conveys in “Big Magic” isn’t about a total life commitment or becoming a starving artist.

Instead, she advocates for a temporary love affair with creativity. Let your creativity flow freely, unshackled by the constraints of who you think you should be. Allow yourself moments of creative freedom at certain times during the day or week. Work on creating whatever comes to mind, without any specific purpose. It’s about giving yourself the freedom to explore and create, just for the sheer joy of it.

Let Your Curiosity Lead You

If you’ve spent much of your life following the rules, doing what you’re told, and seeking approval, then embarking on a path of free-form creativity might seem daunting. You might feel paralyzed, unsure of what you want to create. In this situation, the common advice is to “follow your passion.” But what if you’re not sure about your passions?

Elizabeth Gilbert offers a different perspective: shift your focus from passion to curiosity. Let your curiosity guide your creative endeavors. No matter how small or insignificant it may seem, follow it. When you pursue your curiosity and uncover one layer, you’ll find another waiting beneath, leading to an endlessly unfolding path of discovery. This approach can transform your life into a fascinating journey.

What if you feel that everything has already been said, created, or done? Do we really need another book on the growth mindset, another story, more songs, more vases? Gilbert suggests that this feeling stems from a scarcity mindset. The world is vast, and there is ample room for your unique contributions. So let your curiosity lead you and see what you can create.

Nobel Laureate Physicist Richard P. Feynman beautifully captured this sentiment: “Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn’t matter. Explore the world. Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough.”

Become a “Deeply Disciplined Half-Ass”

Are you a perfectionist? Do you view your perfectionism as a virtue? This mindset, while seemingly beneficial, might actually be holding you back. Perfectionism often leads to being stuck, paralyzed by the fear that someone else might discover a flaw before you do. This fear can inhibit your progress and creativity. But imagine what could happen if you let go of this need for perfection.

You’ve likely heard the saying, “Done is better than perfect.” This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t invest your heart and soul into your creative work. In fact, you should engage with your art wholeheartedly. Be disciplined and dedicated in your creative pursuits. However, the crucial point is not to become overly attached to the outcome.

Gilbert reminds us that striving for perfection is a futile endeavor, especially considering the limited time we have on this earth. We all end our lives as beginners in some aspects. So, why not use the time we have to create whatever we want, just because it brings us joy? Embrace Gilbert’s concept of being a “deeply disciplined half-ass.” This approach is about fully committing to your art while simultaneously accepting that it doesn’t need to meet an unattainable standard of perfection. Create for the sheer joy of creation, and let that be your guiding principle.

Conclusion

Liberate yourself. Step beyond the confines of who you believe you are supposed to be. Break free from your habitual patterns and preconceived perceptions.

Allow your curiosity to be the compass that guides you in living a creative life. Remember not to take life too seriously. Create what you desire, in your own way, and for no reason other than the fact that you want to. Embrace the philosophy of Michel de Montaigne, who said, “Life should be an aim unto itself, a purpose unto itself.” In other words, create something beautiful simply for the joy and fulfillment found in the act of creation itself.