Talent And Inspiration: The Two Worst Creative Excuses

The Chaotic Creative
5 min readAug 31, 2020

The truth about natural propensities and moments of brilliance

Photo by Clark Young on Unsplash

It goes without saying that our greatest enemy is often ourselves. Doubt is the anthesis of freedom, and thus the ultimate destroyer of creativity.

Insecurity, the desire to pin our personal demons on a scapegoat, and a lack of faith in our own abilities often allow doubt to bloom in our lives. This isn’t a mean-spirited judgement, but a fact. I’m guilty of feeling this way myself sometimes.

Everyone is at some point.

The main problem is that we often chalk up elements of creativity and productivity to some mystical energy that plays favorites.

There are two in particular that I hear most often:

  1. “Talent”: a magical, natural endowment of brilliance at something upon birth.

examples: perfect pitch, athletic build or ability from a young age, natural leadership qualities and extroversion


2. “Inspiration”: a sudden, spiritual blast of enlightenment that bestows its recipients with amazing ideas and distinguishes them from the rest.

examples: being suddenly pushed “into the zone” when writing and suddenly churning out masterful work, being driven by something beautiful or jaw-dropping, or a perception of having more instances of these moments than the average person

I’m not claiming that these two concepts are unfounded. There’s obviously some basic truth to them. If you peak at 5'2, then you probably won’t be the next LeBron. If you’re 6'2 and 200 lbs at age 16, on the other hand, then you should expect to have an easier time becoming a star athlete.

Similarly, it’s safe to say that the Beatles likely had more inspiration than the average person. Whether the “methods” they used were justified or not is a different issue entirely.

Hyperbole aside, talent and inspiration are foundations, not determinations.

This isn’t coming from a creative skeptic’s perspective, either. I’ve personally battled with these thoughts for most of my life. Like my Mom, I’ve been a professional musician since the age…