The anxiety of creating

A Reading Note

Creative people, as I see them, are distinguished by the fact that they can live with anxiety, even though a high price may be paid in terms of insecurity, sensitivity, and defenselessness for the gift of the “divine madness,” to borrow the term used by the classical Greeks. They do not run away from non-being, but by encountering and wrestling with it, force it to produce being. They knock on silence for an answering music; they pursue meaninglessness until they can force it to mean.

May, The Courage to Create, page 93


When I am engaged in writing something important to me, I find that if I engage in the customary twenty-minute meditation period before writing, my universe has become too straightened out, too orderly. Then I have nothing to write about. My encounter has vanished into thin air. My “problems” are all solved. I feel bliss, to be sure; but I cannot write.

May, The Courage to Create, page 94

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May sees creativity as the ultimate goal of all people (not merely those traditionally deemed “creative”) and links creativity to well-being and a desire to make the world a better place.