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Why Your Why Matters In Your Art-Nancy Hillis, MD-The Artist's Journey #theartistsjourney

Why Your Why Matters In Your Art- Nancy Hillis, MD-The Artist’s Journey #theartistsjourney

Why Your Why Matters

To create your deepest work it’s important to become aware of the question of why your why matters in your art.

  • What’s your big ‘Why’ for creating?
  • Why is creating important to you?
  • What motivates you to paint?
  • What does it mean to you?

You could have many ‘whys’ or you could have a really big, juicy Why.

Your Why will carry you through and past resistance, difficulties, and disappointments that inevitably arise in creating art or anything else for that matter.

Your Why will help you stay focused on what matters and not squander your time on things that aren’t meaningful to you.

It’s about getting at meaning.

What makes you feel alive? What do you care about? Why do you create?

Begin to write down thoughts, images, dreams, and ideas that pop up for you when you ask yourself ‘what is my big Why?’.

You may not know right now and that’s ok. The important thing is to ask the question. As Rilke said: ‘live the questions’.

…and keep asking the question: what is my big Why?

Last week, I was interviewed on Instagram LIVE by Sandra Felemovicius and as we explored the intersections of creativity, science, art, psychology and mathematics, the question of Why came up. You can watch the interview HERE. 

Mind Mapping

One way to get at meaning and your big Why is to create a mind map.

Place your name in the center of a sheet of paper or poster board. Now write down jobs you’ve had, activities you’ve been involved in, sports, music, things you’ve loved….and begin to look for patterns and common threads that weave through your life. This will give you clues as to what matters to you.

Mind Mapping As A Way Of Exploring Your Big 'Why'

Mind Mapping As A Way Of Exploring Your Big ‘Why’ and Why Your Why Matters In Art


One artist I know created a mind map and noticed a theme of water, music, acoustics, and time threading through his life. He’s an elite swimmer (almost made the Olympics), built a sailboat by hand at age 16, has a sailboat now, plays the organ (the organ was originally called the Hydraulus, because it was powered by water compressing air) and now has an invention that detects water leaks.

He’s interested in composing music based on water sounds. The theme of time has threaded through his life in various forms: music is something that happens in time, swimming competitions are timed, and a fascination for rivers which like time flow in one direction.

Mind mapping is a powerful exploration that may help you find recurrent themes in your life and work.

You can get a taste of my online courses and workshops by registering for my FREE 7 Day Email Course: The Artist’s Journey: Creating Your Deepest Work by clicking HERE and registering.

I believe that holding onto your big Why is a potent way of cutting through resistance and creative block. Please share this post with your friends.

I look forward to hearing about your big Why for creating.

With love,


This post ran previously. The question of your Big Why is an ever-evolving one. As Rilke said: 

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything.

Rainer Maria Rilke

The Artist's Journey Creativity Reflection Journal

The Artist’s Journey Creativity Reflection Journal

P.S. If you’d like to explore your Why for creating further, you’ll love my newest creativity journal: The Artist’s Journey: Creativity Reflection Journal. Get your copy HERE.


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