The seven deadly sins of creativity
There are seven deadly sins. These sins are mortal sins. They will destroy you and condemn your soul, requiring a new outpouring of grace and reconciliation. At least according to Catholic teaching, give or take several thousand words.
These same seven deadly sins can also condemn and destroy your creativity. If you want to reach your creative potential, you need to stay clear of these sins, because, as they are rightly called, they are deadly.
If we envy the work of others, we condemn our own. Comparing our creativity, our art, to others often leads us feeling inferior. By all means be inspired by the amazing work of others, but let it lead you to create your own unique work. Beware the trap of envy, be inspired but be different. There is no need to compare your work to the work of others. You are you, creating your own masterpieces.
Laziness will lead to incomplete and unrealised creative dreams. Sloth isn’t about struggle, about being stuck with a creative decision and being unable to proceed. It is about not bothering. If you want to write, write. If you want to paint, paint. If you can’t be bothered, you will reap exactly what you sow.
Our physical selves need to be looked after. If we eat, drink or do almost anything in excess, we’ll not be able to focus on our art. If we are making ourselves unhealthy then we need to change that. Look after your mind and body as much as you can.
Gluttony is also a problem if we gorge on other people’s work, copying instead of being inspired. We can become obese with their ideas to the detriment of our own. Their work becomes the starting point for our own and we are in danger of never moving beyond that. Don’t end up making a forgery, but forge ahead with your own creativity.
Desire takes our eyes off what is needed and lingering on what is wanted. Don’t fall into lust’s snare, wanting the best or latest tools, software or materials. Make sure you can see the difference between what you need and what you want. Creativity often shines brightest when your resources are limited. If we are always desiring and chasing after the next best thing, we won’t be creating in the here and now. Don’t be a slave to lust, always believing there is something better you can have and that you won’t be able to create until you have it.
Pride is insidious. We should be confident of our own work. We have talents and abilities. Having conquered the sin of envy, beware the sin of pride.
We should have a certain pride in what we create. We may even display an air of arrogance because of our talents. However, we are not perfect. The sin of pride is the belief that our art is, or more accurately, that we are. If we think our art is perfect we will no longer grow and improve as an art creator. Without growth, our ideas and our creations will stagnate. The world will move on and we will be left worshipping our own creation, our own image in the mirror.
Wrath isn’t about just being upset with our work, or even our lack of work if we are stuck. Wrath is about anger. Wrath is when we are so distraught that we destroy things.
There is nothing wrong with crossing out, covering with white gesso or hitting the delete key. We will make mistakes. We will need to correct them. We will learn and make better art this way. If we let wrath control us, we won’t learn. We won’t improve. We will be too angry to listen to theories or our inner muse.
You may get angry at times, that is part of being a human, and also part of being creative. If you let wrath take hold, you will stay angry. Wrath destroys. We should create.
We saw above how wanting leads to lust. Wanting to create for the wrong reasons is also dangerous. Wanting more money, being greedy in our desire to make it, and seeing money as the ultimate goal, will destroy our creativity. When we create for money, we don’t create our best. When money is the goal or the reason, we have sold out.
There is nothing wrong with making money from our art, we all need to survive. But don’t let greed for money be the driving force when you create. The greed and lure of money will destroy your inspiration and your soul. If you are not creating what your muse is prompting but what your desire for money is demanding, the muse will leave. If the muse isn’t wanted she will depart. Once the muse goes, it is very difficult to ask her to return.