How do we engage with life to be actively creative, but not overwhelmed by circumstances or inner challenges? How do artists think about using creative talents? Julia Cameron first published her acclaimed book on the creative life "The Artist's Way" in 1992, and has written many other non-fiction titles, short stories and essays, as well as novels, plays, musicals, and screenplays. A teacher, author, artist, poet, playwright, novelist, filmmaker, composer and journalist, she clearly knows how to be creative and productive.
The photo is food writer and TV show host Nigella Lawson in her London library. She is author of multiple books and, apparently, a dedicated reader. What can we do to be more engaged and prolific in our creative thinking and work? Author and mentor Julia McCutchen shares a number of ideas in her article below.
Creativity is one of the most joyful and meaningful parts of being alive. And for many people, creative expression is not so much a choice as a spiritual necessity. But creative work can be emotionally challenging and stressful, and we need to renew and reboot to keep pursuing excellence.
"Creative resistance is essentially anything and everything that prevents us from starting, developing or completing our creative projects." Julia McCutchen As a creative person, you have a passion to use creative thinking and explore creative ideas, to express yourself through some form of creative work in the arts, or science, business, cooking - any number of engaging ways to use your talents and passions. So what might stand in our way?
What fears can interfere with our creative thinking and creatively expressing ourselves? “The artist begins with a vision — a creative operation requiring effort. Creativity takes courage.” Henri Matisse
How does self esteem impact our lives and creativity? How do traits like egocentrism and narcissism relate to self esteem? In his post here on PsychCentral, Steve Bressert, Ph.D. explains that Narcissistic Personality Disorder is "characterized by a long-standing pattern of grandiosity (either in fantasy or actual behavior), an overwhelming need for admiration, and usually a complete lack of empathy toward others.
"Creativity is always a leap of faith. You're faced with a blank page, blank easel, or an empty stage." Julia Cameron How does writing fear affect you? How do you respond to a blank page as a creator? Choreographer Twyla Tharp said “The blank space can be humbling. But I’ve faced it my whole professional life. It’s my job. It’s also my calling.”
Does being calm or happy help us be creative? Does feeling sad or anxious always inhibit creative thinking? Some researchers find that "mixing together both positive and negative emotions can help facilitate creativity" - as noted in the book "Wired to Create" - more on that below. One example of a creative person with an emotionally complex life is humanitarian, actor and author Ashley Judd, who is also a United Nations / UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador.
Do you get creative ideas in the shower? Do you have any routines or schedules to help encourage your creative thinking and work? Many artists do. But E. B. White (Stuart Little; Charlotte's Web, among other titles) cautioned: "A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper." Quoted in her Brain Pickings post The Daily Routines of Great Writers by Maria Popova. She comments in a related post: "The notion that if only we could replicate the routines of great minds, we’d be able to reverse-engineer their genius is, of course, an absurd one — yet an alluring one nonetheless."
"A writer should be woman-manly or man-womanly..." Virgina Woolf Creativity researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explains that psychological androgyny refers to "a person’s ability to be at the same time aggressive and nurturant, sensitive and rigid, dominant and submissive, regardless of gender. "A psychologically androgynous person in effect doubles his or her repertoire of responses and can interact with the world in terms of a much richer and varied spectrum of opportunities.