Creativity: Drawing from the Inner Well

Jul 16, 2020


The root of create, “to bring something into being out of nothing,” echoes divine creation. Ideas arise from mysterious sources, yet creativity is such an intrinsically human function that Jung considered it one of five human instincts, together with hunger, sexuality, activity, and reflection (a function of consciousness).

Positive circumstances foster creativity: the ability to engage imagination, seek novelty, hone competency, and pursue autonomous, intrinsically rewarding activities. Stress inhibits new possibilities, and rigid societies and personalities fear creators, as new ideas and images challenge the status quo. Creativity can also be quashed from within, and one’s internal cynic, doubter, and deflator often shows up disguised as reason. It takes confidence and courage to surmount uncertainty, obstacles, and potential disappointment.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said: “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” What wants to come into the world through you?


“I dreamt last night that my agent (and very good friend) had died, but while she was dead, she was still conscious! She was walking around and we were chatting, but she knew she was dead, too. Over what seemed like a few days she was decaying and there was a smell, but we were still in this one room, chatting. I remember feeling slightly scared, and would hold my breath around her. She knew she would have to be buried soon. And there was a sense of us getting ready for that. But the burial never happened. There was no goodbye or funeral – or perhaps I just woke up.”


Rollo May. The Courage to Create (Amazon).

Linda Leonard. The Call to Create (Amazon).

Marie Louise von Franz. Creation Myths (Amazon).

Allan B. Chinen. Various books on fairytales (Amazon). 


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1 Comment

  1. M ("Xen") Armiger-Schwartz

    Helpful and insightful stuff, as always. I like the interpretation of Dionysus as the inspiration and Hephaestus as the perspiration.

    I’ve loved writing and making music all my life, but have never actually finished a story nor recorded music for any purpose other than posterity. My creativity is dear to me but it is something a few important others in my life have attacked, rejected, or treated as a symptom. As a result, I’ve never been able to fully give it up, yet part of me has always inhibited me from fully putting it out into the world. Even after discussing this issue for a brief period in an analysis setting and being encouraged, patterns of internal (and external) discouragement repeated themselves and I continued to be frustrated in this “quest” to put something out into the world. I always kept asking myself “What will it say about me if I complete it, if I show it to people? Will it redeem and connect me, or will it make me even more incomprehensible?” What Joe says about “the cost of being seen” really resonated with this struggle I’ve had.

    Last year, I found that a story idea I had at age 19 resurged in my mind and would not leave me alone – I decided to take it on, re-work it, and make a collaborative “graphic novel” project of it with my spouse, Sydney, an aspiring illustrator. I still find myself worrying and tripping over whether or not I will successfully “deliver”, whether it will reflect my vision adequately, whether it will be meaningful to others as well. But, not wanting the artwork Sydney contributes to be in vain, I press on writing the draft regardless of my doubts.

    I do believe that completing a story and sharing it with others who are interested and understanding is vital to my “breaking free” and moving forward from self-doubt and fear.


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