Explaining Creativity: Just How Much Of The Work Comes From You?

The best work comes from a place of creativity. It flows naturally, without hesitation or fear, or self-doubt. It happens when you’re not paying attention to what you’re doing, and it can be done regardless of the medium of writing, painting, music, and so on. 

When you find yourself in “the zone” (or “flow state”), it feels like magic is happening right before your very eyes: inspiration strikes at random moments without warning.

Ideas are fully formed before you even realize they exist; every word was written down seems as if it were written by someone else entirely someone who must be laughing hysterically about how effortlessly we’re able to create something so wonderful!

But then we start worrying about whether our muse will return tomorrow; what if this momentary burst of brilliance is only temporary? What if I can’t maintain my level of productivity for the rest of my life? Is this all just luck? Or are there actual factors involved here? 

How much do we contribute to our creative process? And why do some people seem unable to produce anything meaningful at all?

These questions have obsessed me ever since I started writing professionally two decades ago: they’re why I wrote my first book on creativity when I was just 23 years old; they’re why I’ve spent so many years researching neuroscience as well as interviewing countless artists throughout my career.

What ultimately led me here today to write an article that attempts to answer some important questions about how much influence each person has over their creative process (and whether there’s anything we can do about it)?

How Creativity Works – Jonah Lehrer – YouTube
Key Takeaways
The intricate process of creativity involves a combination of personal inspiration and external influences.
While external factors like environment and experiences play a role, the individual’s unique perspective and effort are crucial contributors.
Creativity is a dynamic interplay between innate talents and the deliberate practice and effort invested by the individual.
Recognizing and embracing your creative autonomy can empower you to harness your unique strengths and produce meaningful work.
Understanding the balance between personal input and external influences can lead to a more intentional and effective creative process.

Why Do We Need Our Muses?

To understand how your muse works and why it’s important, we first need to discuss why we even need them in the first place.

Creativity is a crucial aspect of human nature. Without it, humanity would never have survived long enough to reach the point where we can now ponder this question. So what does that mean for you? Well, it means that you have an innate desire for creativity. 

You don’t know exactly what kind of creative expression will satisfy this desire—but you know there’s something out there waiting for you: some way in which your energy can be channeled into something meaningful and beautiful and useful.

The problem is that not everyone knows how (or has to access) to create these things themselves all the time.

Sometimes people need help getting started on their projects or finding inspiration when they’re stuck trying too hard at something with no results coming out yet so they turn instead toward outside sources like “muses” things like music or books or movies or other people who inspire us through their creativity.”

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Our Muses Are With Us From The Very Beginning

In the beginning, there is the muse. The muse is a part of us, not something outside of us. The muse is a part of our unconscious mind and personality it is what we are when we are not paying attention to ourselves. 

But as important and necessary as this creative force may be, it’s also very fragile: you can lose your inspiration in a matter of seconds if you don’t pay attention to it!

The Muse Is Temporary, Like Lightning In A Bottle

Your muse is like lightning in a bottle. It comes and goes. Your muse isn’t permanent, it will come and go. The muse is not a permanent thing, it’s like lightning in a bottle! Just like lightning in a bottle, your Muse can be difficult to capture, and even if you do, it won’t stick around for long.

Your Muse is like lightning in a bottle: unpredictable, fleeting, and hard to control…like the kind of inspiration that strikes without warning and then vanishes just as quickly! A true artist has learned how to harness this elusive power by cultivating the conditions under which her creativity flourishes (or at least tolerates).

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“The Muse” Is Like Having A Second Brain

The Muse is the voice in your head that gives you ideas when you need them. Every time you’ve heard an idea and been like “I don’t know where that came from,” or something similar, that was your muse talking to you. It’s also responsible for helping you figure out ways to express these ideas in creative ways.

There’s no way around it: The Muse is not a person; it’s a part of your mind. It’s not even really anything it’s a lack of something: self-consciousness and critical thinking about what we’re doing (or at least the parts of our brain that would normally be doing those things).

“The Muse” Can Be Channeled To Produce Creative Output Again And Again

You might be familiar with the concept of an “idea muse.” It’s the thing that gives you a great idea when you’re least expecting it, and it almost always comes when you’re doing something else like taking a shower or taking out the garbage. 

The muse is that little whisper in your ear that tells you to pick up a paintbrush instead of watching TV. It tells you how much fun it would be if only there was another person around who wanted to make art with you.

In this way, the creative process is not just about creating: It’s also about recognizing when inspiration strikes and being able to act upon it quickly enough before it disappears again into thin air.

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Your Muse Arises From Your Unconscious Mind 

Some people think that creativity is a mystical force that comes from nowhere and flies in through the window. But it’s much more complicated than that.

When we talk about the muse, there are two different ways to think about it: one is when your muse arises from something outside of yourself like a melody you hear on the street or a book you read, and then becomes something inside yourself. 

Another is when your thoughts, memories, and experiences become so familiar they feel like they’re coming from somewhere else. (For example, if you have been listening to music for years and have hundreds of songs in your head.) Basically what we’re saying here is that creativity doesn’t come from anywhere specific; it comes from everywhere!

“Your Muse” May Not Exist In You At All

The muse is a metaphor for creativity. It can be a person, place, or thing that inspires us to create. The Muse can be something we see, hear, feel or think about (even if it’s negative). 

It could also be a memory that makes you want to get lost in your imagination again. Your muse could even be another human being who inspires you and gets your creative juices flowing like an artist whose work moves you so much that it makes you want to create too!

In conclusion: The Muse is whatever gets YOU inspired!

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Some People May Not Have A Muse At All

Some people may not have a muse at all. This is because they are not open to it. If you don’t believe that inspiration can come from anywhere, then it won’t. 

You may have heard this before: “If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.” Not exactly a rousing call to action, but if you’re going to be creative and productive, you need to be open to possibilities (and sometimes accept rejection).

No muse? Then what about your workspace? Is there anything about your workspace that makes it conducive to creativity?

You Could Have Multiple Muses Within You

You could have multiple muses. You might have a primary muse, who gives you the big ideas and the big push, but then a secondary muse that’s there to help you through the process of actually getting those ideas across. 

Or maybe there are different muses for different subjects or types of creative work. For example, I have one primary muse who inspires my writing, but she doesn’t work well with illustrations so I have another muse who inspires my artwork (but not my writing).

They all come from within us, so they don’t need to be explained but as you can see here, sometimes it can be fun to think about where these forces come from and how they might affect our lives!

Your Muse Is Present In Even The Most Mundane Moments Of Your Day

You might have a muse who comes to you when you’re staring out the window of your second-story apartment or one who appears in front of you as an image in your mind. But don’t get too attached to that idea! You don’t know where your muse will come from, or what form it will take on. That’s part of the fun!

You may be sitting at home and thinking about adding some new furniture to your living room and then your muse taps you on the shoulder and says “Hey, why not write an article about making art while watching TV?” 

Or maybe you’re lying awake in bed at night thinking about how much money is left over after paying bills and wondering if there’s anything else worth spending money on and then BAM: inspiration strikes! Maybe instead of buying those shoes this month, I could use my savings for a trip to Hawaii next year.

Your Muse Can Sometimes Make Its Presence Known Through Sleep (or Lack Thereof)

The muse can also make its presence is known during sleep, or lack thereof. Sometimes the muse is someone who you’ve never met and don’t even know exists but they’re there with you, all the same, haunting your dreams and nightmares alike.

Sometimes, of course, that seems like a convenient excuse for not having any real ideas: “I’m sorry I didn’t come up with anything it was my muse!” But what does it mean when we say that a certain idea “came from my muse”? And how do we know which ideas are coming from our minds?

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Your Muse Needs Time To Grow And Develop On Its Own; It Cannot Be Forced Or Accelerated

The creative process cannot be rushed. You certainly can’t force your muse to appear, and you can’t force inspiration. You should also be wary of trying to speed up the process of creativity itself; that’s like running a marathon in the hopes that it will give you super powers or something.

No, sorry you’re going to have to just keep at it until the end no matter how tired you feel or how many people try to distract you on your way there.

So what should we take away from this? Well, for starters: Creativity isn’t something that happens overnight or even over a long period (unless you’re working on an insanely long project like an album). 

It is something that grows and develops on its own in fact If anything about this whole thing makes sense at all. 

It’s probably because of some kind of inner guidance system programmed into all humans’ brains by our creators way back when they created us as part of their master plan for what life on Earth could look like once we discovered ourselves here after leaving our home planet behind thousands upon thousands years ago!

Your Muse Can Come From Anywhere At Any Time, So Be Open To It At All Times

There is no one way to be creative. Creativity is a mindset and a practice, not a result. If you can find inspiration in everything, even the most mundane things, then you are well on your way to being an artist. Take advantage of all the opportunities that come your way, and welcome every new idea with open arms!

Overthinking And Overanalyzing Creativity Will Cause Stress And Kill “The Flow State” (aka The Zone)

One of the biggest pitfalls for creative types is overthinking. When you find yourself stuck, it’s easy to start thinking about all the reasons you can’t work through your problem. This will only stress you out and kill any chance of being in “the flow state” or what we call “the zone” which is where we want to be when we’re creating something new.

It’s important to keep in mind that no matter how good or bad a piece of art or writing might be, there are always ways that it could have been better and ways it could have been worse. 

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this kind of critique, but when taken too far, it can result in unnecessary stress and frustration that will ultimately prevent you from finding solutions (and make it harder for others who are helping).


All of this can seem confusing and overwhelming and it is! Creativity is an incredibly complex phenomenon. But if you have trouble accessing your muse, there’s one key takeaway that we hope you’ll keep in mind: don’t overthink or overanalyze it. 

The more you try to force yourself into a creative state of mind, the more anxious and stressed out you’ll become. Instead, just relax, let go of expectations about what should happen next, and be open to whatever comes up next in your life. If nothing else works? Go make some art! You might be surprised at what happens when you do.

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources for further exploring the topic of creativity and its various aspects:

Where Does Creativity Come From?: Discover the origins and sources of creativity, and gain insights into how creative thinking can be nurtured and harnessed.

Creativity in the Workplace: Explore the role of creativity within professional settings, and learn how fostering a creative environment can lead to innovation and growth.

Developing Creativity Skills: Learn practical strategies for enhancing your creativity skills, both in personal and professional contexts, to stand out and thrive.


What factors contribute to the emergence of creativity?

Creativity can be influenced by various factors, including exposure to diverse experiences, a willingness to take risks, and the ability to see connections between seemingly unrelated concepts.

Can creativity be cultivated in the workplace?

Absolutely, fostering a culture that encourages open-mindedness, collaboration, and experimentation can significantly contribute to nurturing creativity among employees.

How does creativity impact career development?

Creativity is a valuable skill in the modern workforce, as it can lead to innovative problem-solving, adaptability, and the ability to generate unique ideas, all of which are highly regarded by employers.

Are there techniques to overcome creative blocks?

Yes, strategies like taking breaks, changing your environment, and engaging in activities unrelated to the task at hand can help overcome creative blocks and stimulate fresh ideas.

Is creativity limited to artistic endeavors?

No, creativity extends far beyond the realm of art. It’s relevant in various fields, including science, business, and everyday problem-solving, where innovative thinking drives progress and success.