Finding the Source of Creativity

Finding the Source of Creativity

by Susan C. Paulsen

Creativity. Where does it come from? Some individuals produce their best work after enduring extreme or extended hardship. Some are not appreciated for the effort until after their death. Many produce innovative works and are never recognized. Creative results, in any arena, stem from inspiration, motivation and passion…and a deep personal belief in one’s self that overpowers all other circumstances.

When considering where creativity comes from, one point to consider is whether creativity is something that anybody can learn, or if it is an aspect of individual personality. Individuals with a positive, “can-do” attitude may have a degree of self confidence will cause them to question possibilities, rather than their own ability to achieve possibilities that may seem out of reach. This attitude leads to a level of determination to accomplish goals that seem out of reach.

Author J.K. Rowling is an example of an author who was determined to publish her novel, originally titled Philospher’s Stone, which was written during a time when a series of difficult events took place. These events, including the death of her mother at age 45, marriage, the birth of a daughter, and divorce, influenced her writing, rather than halting it. “I wrote nearly every evening. Then I had to type the whole thing out myself. Sometimes I actually hated the book, even while I loved it,” states Rowling on her web site. That moment of hating a project, and making the decision to continue anyway, is the creative drive that stems from a true passion for one’s work.

Another example of perseverance is the young author, Mattie J.T. Stepanek (1990-2004), whose book A Message of Hope, was awarded a 2007 Independent Publisher Book Awards Gold Medal. Although Stepanek, who suffered from Dysautonomic Mitochondrial Myopathy, did not survive to accept this award, his legacy continues to inspire creativity in others. Before his death, Stepanek identified what drove his creativity: “People tell me I inspire them. And that inspires me. It’s a beautiful circle, and we all go around together, with and for each other.”

Inspiration from others is a driving force behind creativity. While some are compelled to create regardless of outside influences, others only realize their creative potential after a meaningful experience. An inspirational experience can come in many forms, including visual art, literature and poetry and nature. The Royal Academy of Arts, London, has a website titled Inspiration, that provides access to its collection of fine art and books. The Internet has opened a doorway for the creative mind to explore indefinitely, whether through fine arts sites such as Inspiration, or through sites such as YouTube and Flickr, where film and photography work is submitted by individuals from all walks of life, worldwide.

Once inspired, the creative individual begins to explore and create. The ability to continue is driven by motivation, which can also take many forms. is designed to support those who may feel that their motivation level is slipping.  The home page of the site states, “Being creative is the result of the pursuit, activation, and expression of your intellect, intuition, and emotions.” Navigation of the site reveals insight on everything from criticism and blocks, to the business side of creativity and self-care. Motivation is tied to perseverance; when the desired results are not being achieved, it is at this time that the will to keep trying new solutions will often culminate with an original solution—a solution or creation that may have never been discovered if it had been more easily attained.

Finally, passion for one’s work is a fundamental ingredient of creativity. Passion is the driving force behind all works of substance. When work is approached with a fervency, it carries a life of it’s own; it’s meaning spills out beyond boundaries to reach and inspire others.  The Tanne Foundation is an organization created to recognize works created with passion and commitment, and to provide grants to foster such work. An excerpt from the Founder’s Statement reads, “Whatever one’s personal preference and judgment, the creative process must be held in esteem. One may judge work to be successful or unsuccessful; one may or may not like it. But the effort involved in creating work must be respected.” The Tanne Foundation recognizes the core of creativity in all genres…that all original works represent the essence of inspiration and perseverance.

In the day-to-day details that make up one’s life, it is easy to lose touch with the core concepts that inspire creativity. It is the ability to make a permanent appointment with oneself to observe, absorb and interpret that which will spark creativity. Self-confidence is the key to opening the door to unknown possibilities.


Works Cited

“J.K.Rowling Official Site” <>

“About Mattie Stepanek”  <>

“Royal Academy of Arts Collection – Inspiration – British Art and Architecture”  < >

“Be Creative! Pursuing, Activating, Expressing Creativity”  <>


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