We are all familiar with Henri Matisse’s famous phrase: “creativity takes courage.” But does creativity take courage? Is that really a true statement?
Creativity takes skill. Creativity takes patience. Creativity takes inspiration. But does creativity take courage?
That depends on what courage really means and how it applies to creativity.
What Courage Really Means
Courage is choosing to confront your fears in the face of agony, pain, danger, uncertainty and/or intimidation.
We are physically courageous when we maintain bravery in the face of physical pain or hardship, especially when death is threatened or inevitable.
We are morally courageous when we still choose to act justly in the face of popular opposition, scandal, shame or personal loss.
There’s a reason why fortitude (or courage) is considered a classical virtue. It takes courage to live an authentic life. It takes courage to be true to yourself. It takes courage to express yourself fully through creativity.
So, does creativity take courage? I would say so! And here’s why.
Creativity, In Spite of Pain
Creation often relies on the creator reliving painful memories, moments in time that we wish to forget completely but have scarred us too deeply.
As creators, we relive these painful memories not to burden ourselves. Rather, we dive deep into the memory to experience the breadth of emotions within that moment in time. Only then can we can capture that expression within our creation so that we can release that pain from our system.
That’s not an easy thing to do. In fact, it takes courage to face the rawness of this internal reality.
It’s because of this courage that our world today is filled with timeless art. Novels, plays, paintings, photographs, films, songs—many of the most beloved creations of art stem from a strain of pain.
Creativity, In Spite of Ridicule
Creativity always has its haters. And they can say some spiteful remarks, such as:
“You will fail.”
“Why would anyone take you seriously?”
“What a waste of time.”
“This is awful.”
Sadly, the worst critic is our inner voice. That inner voice is not our personal voice expressing our true feelings. No, that inner voice is a conglomeration external voices chorusing as one distinct sound within our mind.
Yet it’s this inner voice that can win over and prevent creativity. It takes courage to conquer that ridicule and carry on with creating.
Creativity, In the Face of Opposition
Creativity doesn’t always involve pens and paint. In fact, the real meaning of creativity is to have the ability to bring something new into existence through imaginative skill or a course of action.
That means creativity can lie in almost anything we do. That’s because it takes courage to creatively solve problems, and we must solve problems every day in everything we do.
But even the best solution you devise through creative problem solving or the best creative expression doesn’t guarantee positive results. In fact, your creativity may upset, offend or anger others. Sometimes this is your intention. Sometimes it is not.
As humans, we respond better to positive reinforcement. It then takes courage to push onward, knowing that this creation or solution, once presented, may cause such a negative response.
Creativity, In the Face of Uncertainty
There are no guarantees in life. Our creativity can receive high praise or indifference. Our creativity can highly acclaimed or ignored.
And our creation may not come out as we expect. Sometimes we love our creation, sometimes we hate it and sometimes we come to terms that it merely exists.
The outcome of creativity is always uncertain. We don’t know how our creation will turn out or how our creativity will be received.
The end result is forever unclear until we make that creativity happen. And it takes courage to make it happen without knowing if it’s all a waste of time or a timeless creation.
So, Does Creativity Take Courage?
Creativity is a color palate of a variety of talents, from inspiration and patience to skill and strategy. But these talents can never surmount to the surface without the courage to transform an idea from an internal thought to an external expression.
It may seem silly to say it takes bravery to write a poem or sketch a drawing. Isn’t that a hobby? A way to pass the time? Yet if that creativity has significant meaning, then it certainly takes courage to express it—and to be vulnerable to its uncertainty.