Valentine’s Day Special: How Love Inspires Creativity*

It may seem obvious that feelings of love go hand-in-hand with heightened creativity. Artists of every type have created masterpieces motivated by love: paintings, plays, songs, sculpture. I’ve certainly written my share of love-inspired essays, fictional scenes and other pieces. Starting with some very bad poetry at the age of 15 when the boy I was smitten with moved on.

But when psychologists decided to study this connection, they found both that love inspires creativity and that lust inspires analytical thinking. Two different studies prompted students to think of either romantic or sexual situations. Afterwards, the subjects who’d been thinking of sex performed better on logic problems, while the students reflecting on love were best at solving problems requiring creativity.

The researchers concluded that love causes people to think about long-term goals, which involves taking an imaginative leap. This enhances holistic thinking and creativity. Lust, on the other hand, inspires dedication to more short term pursuits, thereby heightening analytical ability.

I can’t sum up this blog post any better than this Miller-McCune article about the research did: “This explains the relative paucity of Odes to a One-Night Stand.”

Except to say if you’re feeling creatively blocked, why not kiss someone you love? Or, as researchers had subjects do in one of the studies, imagine taking a long walk with your beloved. It just might set your muse on fire.


*In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m rerunning this popular post.

Copyright © Sandy Ackers, Strangling My Muse: Struggling to Live a Creative Life in a Stressful World, http://www.stranglingmymuse.com

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6 Responses to “Valentine’s Day Special: How Love Inspires Creativity*”


  1. 1 Sue Mitchell February 14, 2011 at 7:52 am

    I would argue that Lennon-McCartney’s “Norwegian Wood” is an ode to a one-night stand. 🙂 But they are certainly few and far between. Does this mean we should all be having sexual fantasies while balancing our checkbooks? I love thinking about the implications of this. Fascinating! Thanks for this wonderful post, Sandy.

    • 2 stranglingmymuse February 14, 2011 at 8:04 am

      Yes — our minds obviously work the same way, Sue, because I’ve thought the same thing: remember to have lustful thoughts while creating a budget and solving geometry problems, but focus on the ones you love while writing a novel!

      Good point about Norwegian Wood.

      ~Sandy

  2. 3 Denise Lumiere February 14, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    In one of my recent coaching sessions, my client came up with a great small question and maybe this is one of the answers!! “How can I be focused and joy-filled at the same time?” Unique answer, fun…..hmmm… exciting….

  3. 5 Patrick Ross February 14, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    I would think ten minutes of studying poetry would convince anyone that love inspires creativity! (Although it would sure seem lust does as well.) Thanks for the post, Sandy!


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Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach and Writer.

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