When Creativity Hurts

Does being creative ever hurt you? Does the stroke of a paintbrush, the writing of words, or the blink of a camera shutter bring on tears?


Honestly, sometimes for me creativity hurts. But I don’t think creativity itself causes my pain. I believe when I dig deep and stirs things I have bottled inside, that stirring up reminds me I am in pain. Because let’s be honest, when we live with wounds sometimes we get used to the pain. We forget they haven’t healed yet.


I also ask myself, is it worth this hurt? I always came back to the answer, yes. Creativity is worth every tear. Why? Because it can help me heal, if I let it.


Will I let it? Will you let it? Will we all let creativity work its cauterizing powers on our emotional and spiritual wounds? Is your head spinning yet? Mine is and I’m the writer, but hold on with me here.


Why does it have to hurt? It’s TRUE not all healing creativity is painful. Most often it soothes, releases and even washes away anxiety, depression, fear, and loneliness. But sometimes it makes you stare at the things hurting you, and that pinches. It makes you relive trauma. That’s worse. It makes you examine, probe, and even reopen wounds. That is excruciating. Have you ever been there?


On 2015, November 11th, I started writing a poem that would go further and deeper than anything I had ever written before. It took me four years and two-ish weeks to write over a thousand words. No, I will not post it. Why bring it up? For the example of my creativity hurting me. There is no way I could count the tears spilt while writing it.


I often asked God why he gave it to me, but he never answered that question. He said write it. There were times I walked away from the project for months on end, but he always brought my attention back.


“Mary, write.”
“But I don’t want to.”
“Mary, write the poem.”
“But I DON’T WANT TO!”


Then he would be silent as I sat my butt down to write a few lines, or fixed a word. Or just read it over and over again, and cried.
See, I believe God made every human being creative, whether we use that creativity or choose not to. When he gave it to us, he gave us one of our most powerful attributes. He gave us part of his very self. That is why the act of creativity, in its many forms, can heal.


I am learning to lean in to my creativity when it hurts. The act is difficult, and I test the waters with my toes before committing to the journey of those experiences. I find my brain is far more receptive to learning while it’s hurting, if the hurt involves being creative.


Also important, remember that if you start a journey of healing with creativity, you don’t have to share it with anyone. It’s yours. The pain, the healing, the experience is YOURS. The art you make is yours for you. If you want to share it, that’s beautiful. If you want to burn it after creating it, do it. If you need to store it away in a dark closet under 100 blankets, that is just fine too. It’s the doing that is important. When you reach a place where the doing doesn’t hurt, and feels more like living, you still don’t have to share it.


I pray God blesses you through your doing this week.

©Mary Grace van der Kroef 2020

14 thoughts on “When Creativity Hurts

  1. This is very much along the same lines as I was trying to get across on my last post.

    It was like a waterfall of words started pouring out and I basically dived into it. I felt like totally engulfing myself was almost driving me crazy. The beautifulest of writing seemed to be coming from the madness I was feeling.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yesterday I ripped an almost 40- year-old scab off a deep wound. I needed to write today and couldn’t make myself do it. I wasn’t ready to go to the places my writing would surely have taken me. Thank you for sharing and for encouraging me to go to those hard places, even if only for myself.

    Liked by 2 people

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