Courting the Motivation to Create

By Daniel Kariuki

Time and again, we have struggled to pick our creative tools up. Sometimes pushed to the verge of giving up. But a small voice, the only voice that seems to believe in us, cheers us to keep keeping on. And so we do.

When we understand some factors that strengthen our creative adversary, we can bring down a good portion of its fortress and begin our creative process.

Barriers to creativity— and how to smash them

Lack of clarity – Without taking the time to figure out the objectives of a task, both the goal and its execution plan present themselves in a blurry manner. To counter this, sit in front of a pen and paper then articulate in detail what your final result to be.

Fear– Creative people have imagination capabilities whose shadow effects can and do sabotage them. These sabotaging effects have well-been known since Seneca’s time (a philosopher) who wrote: 

We are more often frightened than hurt; we suffer more from imagination than from reality.

For critical thinkers, there is barely a shortage of fear-inducive thoughts leading to paralysis by analysis. Such contemplations don’t exempt the fear of failure that puts its first nail in the coffin. However, this fear can be countered by looking at past encounters with it dispassionately. 

At one point (or many), this fear crept on you, but you pressed on and surmounted the obstacle. What is to stop you from doing so again? 

Braven up, soldier! It’s time to go to war again!

Granted. You will face failure, you will be wrong, and there are a couple of things you will lose in the process. One thing is definite: You will be in a better position than you were before you started creating. The 1000 mistakes are worth the light-bulb invention — the legacy.

Social fears knock next. They include the fear of criticism, rejection, and ridicule. We desperately wish for an audience and an appreciation for our works. This pressure instills a malignant fear throughout the creative process where you ask, “ What will they think of this?” Ask that enough times, and the motivation to go on tanks gradually as the criticism in your head slowly outweighs your creativity.

As you journey through your creative process, promise yourself that your best effort in creating should be enough. After completion, put your work out to the world. Take in the comments with no sentiments and tweak your project with the criticism in mind for the final product.

It’s through failure that we learn and perfect our craft.

Fear of change– Our primitive brain perceives change as a threat; the ancestral days that passed down traits that increased our survivability prioritized predictability and security. Change meant invasion that triggered the flight or fight response.

Our minds avoid danger -change is the danger in this case- and given both the opportunity and enough time (you’d be surprised how enough little time is), it will rationalize the fear.

Following this rationalization, we play safely within our comfort zone which, in the real sense, is a rut. But to be better creatives, we need to evolve, grow and expand our skillset. Change is inevitable for that. 

We can embrace change by taking the first and most vital step: preparation

The better you anticipate, adjust and have countermeasures towards the incoming change, the better you will sync in and perhaps benefit from the change.

We must prepare to break the routines that are great for productivity but not so much for creativity. 

Through the following, we can trick our minds (or at least try to) into seeing change as an opportunity, not a threat:

Don’t rush the change. It takes time to grow and, likewise, to transform the discomfort zone into a comfort zone. With enough time, a comfort zone will envelop the pursuit of your creative goals.

Develop a positive view of change. If you view change from a welcoming perspective, (for example, instead of thinking writing a book is impossible, you challenge yourself to put down two pages a day for a year to produce similar results), you are likely to achieve it.

Educate yourself. The unfamiliar pose a threat in our minds. Gathering information on the journey prepares you for what you’ll encounter and makes you eager to pursue the challenge.


Taking the initial step to gently move over from the low creative drive to creating something worthy of recognition is the most important effort. Repeat that over a spread-out span, and you’ll be amazed.

As my friend says:

It is not the 10,000 hours that create outliers. It is the 10,000 iterations.

Go ahead. Become an outlier.

Published by mindsetofathlete

I am a mental health professional in love with art, of various expressions. My career focuses on understanding health and fitness, acknowledging when a person has become unbalanced in their obligations, and determining the best customized approach for helping clients recover and heal. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, participating in outdoor activities, and exploring cuisines and cultural elements of my environment.

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