Everyone has a desire to create.

On the basest level, this manifests in the subconscious – daydreaming, imagining, even actual sleeping dreams.  Some are more inclined to this act of creation than others, but it is present in all people. Creation, especially on the mental level, need not be a spectacular event – if creation extends even to the imagination, than the imagination of the different flavors as one decides what to eat, or anticipates what he has already decided, is a form of creation.

Most people, perhaps all, are not satisfied with the mere imagination. People want to take their creations and make them real. The artist and the writer want to transfer their thoughts to a fixed medium; the architect wants to form structures; the chef and craftsman want to create things of beauty and utility from raw materials. Most people, however, do not have an overlap between their drive to create and their profession. They create as a hobby – either because their talents are not marketable or because they do not wish to create for a living.

Professional and amateur are held in tension, and often considered to be opposites. As the words imply, the professional performs the art as a job, while the amateur performs the art for love of the art. Linguistic bias implies that drive is not a factor in professionalism, only talent. Amateur quality is considered poor quality, often making rookie mistakes, while professional quality is considered solid and consistent quality, at a bare minimum. Needless to say, amateurs can be perfectly capable or professional quality work, while many professionals are guilty of doing amateur quality work.

Drive is in fact the most pivotal factor in the art of creation. There is no correlation between the decision to work professionally and the levels of drive and talent, though a minimum level of both drive and talent  is assumed for the individual that makes such a decision.

Talent is composed of two elements – gift and experience. Gift is the inborn ability – any element of oneself which makes a given art easier can be considered gift.  Gift is unevenly distributed, and may affect an individual’s inclination toward a given art. Experience is available to everyone equally – some may gain it faster than others, and experience will manifest for different individuals in different areas – again, the experience is unique to the individual. Talent is then somewhere between the sum of gift and experience and the product of gift and experience – someone with no gift is, in theory, capable of matching someone incredibly gifted, given enough experience. A popular theory of experience is the concept of 10,000 hours – after 10,000 hours of an activity, someone can truly be considered “good” at that activity. While there is truth to the 10,000 hours theory, it perhaps overvalues experience while diminishing gift.  There is, in theory, a critical mass where the level of gift is inconsequential in the face of experience, but I am not certain that that critical mass is 10,000 hours. The point remains that gift does not separate individuals, it simply inclines them to take more easily to a given art. The best author is not necessarily the most gifted.

Which brings us to drive. This is the decision to do something – nothing more, nothing less. This decision is not a one-time action, however – it is a constant action, in the face of any adversity. Drive is shown when an individual stumbles, but does not quit, when an individual makes time for the art, rather than muttering about “finding time.”  Drive waxes and wanes, leading to the well-known concept of “writer’s block.” Similarly, those with more drive are more likely to commit to something long enough to see it through, and, by extension, more likely to reach the fabled 10,000 hours.

But, on a more philosophical level, what is drive?

Drive can be caused by intrinsic factors.  It can be a desire to prove something. It can be the recognition that this art is a means to a desirable end, be it survival, charitable, comfort, or any other end.

Drive can also have an intrinsic source. This is less understood, because it is less understandable. This drive can be the desire to prove something to oneself. Or it can be a recognition of the value of creation – much as art can elevate the one who experiences it, it can elevate the one who creates. And then there are those who simply feel they must create – there is a primal sense of something within them that must be made real. In this latter case, the author will not be able to explain why the art must be created, only that it must. This intrinsic drive is also considered a “gift,” though it is distinct from the earlier sense of gift.

There may be many reasons why one with drive has no inclination toward professionalism. It may be a matter of temperament – art serves no master. It may be a matter of principle – art is not something to be bought and sold; it demands to be experienced. It may be a matter of personal preference – I do this to relax; I couldn’t possibly relax if my livelihood depended on it. It may be a matter of self-deprecation – I’m not good enough to do this for a living. Or it may be one of an infinite variety of reasons. Samuel Clemens (i.e. Mark Twain) argued in Tom Sawyer that the very fact of an art being a profession diminishes drive.

There are in fact many elements which work against drive. People tend to have a poor estimation of their abilities, and claim incompetence – a very tall hurdle for those with little to no gift while they work to accumulate basic experience. People can temporarily subdue the drive through consumption – vicariously enjoying the creation of others. People can be discouraged by difficulty progressing. Of they can just be having a very bad day. There are easily as many excuses to not create as there are to create.

In the end, however, there remains the fact that people are inclined to create. The experience of creation, particularly seeing the finished creation, and the impact thereof, really cannot be compared to any other experience. The greater the art, the greater the internal sense of fulfillment, especially if the quality meets or exceeds the author’s personal standards.