Creativity Can Be Participated in but Not Controlled

In creative work you are uncovering reality that transcends your sensibilities. Whatever you reveal about life through your own work will by its very nature touch on the revelations of other works by other people. And so you are joining in a process that unfolds in your life but it is not confined to your experience. The most you can do is participate; you will never run the show.

Mature artists have learned that they cannot control the process by which they create. They can embrace it; they can acquiesce to it; they can marvel at it; they can enjoy the ride. Their only control lies in the mastery of their craft. For instance, it is up to me to master the intricacies of structure, style, grammar and all that goes into the writing art. But I can’t sit down and simply decide how a story is going to unfold. I don’t yet know how the story will unfold. I very likely don’t even know how the story will end. That’s because unfold is the operative word. I can pay attention and witness the unfolding, and then, if I have mastered my craft, I can capture what unfolds and communicate it to others.

Our creative work issues from our memories and our subconscious, from stories that predate us, from matters that are so deep and so important that we cannot contain them at any one time. This work requires a process that is larger and wiser than we are. We should be very grateful that we can’t control it, because we wouldn’t be up to the job anyway.

– from “The Soul Tells a Story: Engaging Creativity with Spirituality in the Writing Life” by Vinita Hampton Wright Loyola Press