How To Kill Your Creativity

Quiet your own voice. Don’t do or say anything even mildly transgressive for fear of looking, sounding, or feeling ridiculous. Don’t make any definitive statements; keep your sketches and bad poetry confined to a journal and shake your head vehemently if someone asks to see. Suppress your good ideas because what, they wouldn’t make a difference anyway. Second guess yourself at every turn and make yourself believe you have nothing to offer.

Have every day, month, and year planned out to the letter — treat life like an endless to-do list and leave no room for deviation. Feel like you always have to be doing “something productive” before you feel like you’re worth anything. Get crushed under the insistent weight of small things. Feel weird about having free time and feel at loss for what to do with yourself when you actually get it.

Have no idea what the hell you’re doing, ever — treat life like a giant question-mark-shaped water slide and slide down it without a prayer. Cave under the unavoidable facts of things; surrender to the vast senselessness of the universe and feel too small, too insignificant and so give up trying and just coast on. Spend melty hours smoking joints making vague plans and nodding in agreement; promptly forget what was said the next day.

Go out all the time because being alone in an empty house makes you feel stagnant and cold-sweaty. Purge your thoughts and feelings, drug your frustration drown your apprehension and repeat the tired “you only live once” mantra to make yourself feel less thrown. Put your own goals on the back burner and promise yourself tomorrow to block out the sticky vagueness of subterranean anxiety.

Stay in all the time because going out takes too much effort and there’s nothing new to see out there anyway. Plod around in dirty PJs from the sunken couch to the kitchen and back, turn on the TV and flip through the channels hating absolutely everything even though you’ve got a half-finished novel or project sitting right there, but meh. Sigh and chew something without tasting it, drop your feet on the table so heavily your heels hurt.

Have a type and stick to it. Only read books that agree with your ideology, only date people who share your background, opinions, interests, and schedule. Treat potential partners less like people and more like furniture; judge them on how well they fit into your life and complement what you’ve done with it. Stop being curious and start feeling very tired and fed up.

Buy into things. Take advice from self-righteous self-help books and diets that tell you to eat less fruit and more chemical protein powder. Follow trends, adhere to standards, bleach your teeth your hair and your asshole because that’s what it takes to be attractive, maybe. Get personally involved in people who have no knowledge of or interest in you whatsoever. Buy clothes that don’t even fit, sweat and ache over them and curse your genetics and your higher power.

Categorize and trivialize. Classify yourself and everyone, stay tight in your comfort zone and be the first to point a finger at people who move from theirs. Reduce human expression and emotion to gifs and blanket statements, drop things you don’t understand instead of trying to understand them, rely on cards to express your sentiments and songs to express your feelings. Buy everything pre-made and pre-packaged because you’re too damn busy to create your own life. Forget what handwriting looks like. Forget what ecstasy feels like. Forget you are capable. TC mark

image – jumpinjimmyjava


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  • Tresko06

    must be something in the air…..

  • Yair B.

    I hate and love this, because it’s practically breaking my windows and kicking in my door.

  • Joyce


  • Sharron

    Sadly true, well written.

  • annie

    Drown it in whiskey. I haven’t made anything worth finishing in months. 

  • Guest

    holy shit. i just bookmarked this article. everything you wrote is way way way too familiar for me to be ok with. 

  • Raymond Thimmes

    I suck.

  • Jenny

    absolutely adore this.

  • Katii

    This REALLY resonates with me right now. Thank you.

  • Madisonwhite

    Why does this have to relate so well to me? bloo bloo bloo

  • Nwairah

    Ugh, this made me angry. Good job.

  • Sara H

    There as many ways to be artistic as there are artists in the world. Why would you try to judge the possible ways of life of an artist? You gave no reasoning for why any of these things lead to being uncreative.
    Being a student at a very competitive university, I have to live with everything planned out. I certainly feel that I “always have to be doing ‘something productive'” and I also “feel weird about having free time and feel at loss for what to do with [my]self when [I] actually get it.” And I must say that this lifestyle does not in any way inhibit my creativity as an actor. On the contrary, if I didn’t have things planned out as they are, I would never have time to create. And if I didn’t always feel like I had to be doing something productive, I wouldn’t rehearse my scenes as much as I do and therefore my work wouldn’t be as good.
    So who are you to say that that lifestyle couldn’t possibly work for anyone creative? Just because it doesn’t work for you doesn’t mean you can make it a general rule.

    • Aphelus

      Hey Sarah, 
      in my opinion, he doesn’t criticize a certain way of being productive, he criticizes a way of finding reasons to NOT be productive. He criticizes the cowardice and lameness of those who chose NOT to be creative even if they could / should. The person in the text is supposedly NOT rehearsing / writing / painting ANYTHING due to a kind of “learned helplessness”, which is a symptom of depression etc. 
      PS: I admire you for what you describe you’re doing, I wouldn’t be able to handle that all, I’m quite glad to be a “slacker” art student with many freedoms. :-)

      • Sara


      • Chelsea Fagan

        strong comeback.

      • Sara

        ?…just sayin’.

      • Sara H

        I don’t see how the text was describing someone not doing things. In fact, the second paragraph describes exactly the opposite and states that being someone who always feels that they need to be doing something and never having idle time is something that would kill creativity. My main point is that it doesn’t do such to everyone. My other point is that since I was able to prove the second rule incorrect by counterexample, it is likely that there are artists out there that would provide a counterexample for each rule in this article. I just don’t think that setting out rules for what to do and what not to do is really conducive of creativity.

    • Responding to you

      just because you havent experienced what the author is talking about doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, or ring true for people. 

      • Sara H

         I never said it doesn’t apply to some people. My point is that it doesn’t apply to all people, as the title of the article would suggest that this would kill any reader’s creativity. I proved by counterexample that this is not so.

    • CourtneyB

      I think you’re looking at it wrong. The author isn’t saying that living that lifestyle automatically kills creativity, but that over planning and forcing yourself to “be productive” is a way to stifle creativity for some people. Instead of being creative, they see their art as something unproductive, so they fill their time completely with things that seem more relevant or meaningful somehow. Busywork instead of creating. 

      You use your planning to make sure you are creative. That’s a good way to live, and it works for you. That’s not what the author is talking about.

  • Aphelus

    WOW, finally I come to knowing again that there’s a reason I’m keeping up with Thought Catalogue… The heading spoke to me immediately, and the first break was like “check!!” – and then came the hurt… Thank you much for this, thank you. 

  • internetfemale

    you are so fucking right. thank you thank you thank you

  • Kellyclarkson172003

    And this is why I’m downing a bottle of wine by myself because going out is just too much of a hassle.

  • jessi jae

    i’m actually honestly printing this to tape up in my bathroom

  • Kathy

    fuck the world, it no longer matters how ‘true’ anything is, cause no one really gives a damn, everything is irrelevant and everyone is out of touch.

  • Thatswhatshesaid?

    Everything in this article rings true with me… I have killed my own creativity by doing all these things and more. I never feel good enough, I feel like EVERYTHING is too much effort and always, always second guess myself. To let your creativity die in this society that values the individual above all else is so fucking easy that one would never even think it possible…

  • Clitty McLabia

    You know the easiest way to lose your creativity is by working as a nurse full-time. 

  • Shatha H.

    Im confused now!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you, this was painfully true. I don’t show my bad poetry to anyone. I keep avoiding doing anything ‘too creative’ since I would probably fail anyway and there is no place for art in my life. I have to be productive, reasonable and realistic. I have to start my own business like selling matches or mugs with silly writings bought in China or an NGO that teaches young people about art history. I have to do anything but what I actually desire to do. As long as I don’t I can keep telling myself I am not untalanted just being a responsible grown-up.

  • mia nguyen

    This article somehow altered my existence.

  • Guest

    I don’t relate to this at all. People need to buck up. 

  • Disappointed

    heap of contradictions. 

  • Amy Beth Steinberg

    I feel like you just described the last 2 years of my life… I might cry. Thank you for these words!!

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