Chaos and Creative Expression – Part 2

By Douglas Eby

[See Part 1]

cluttered garageAuthor Malcolm Gladwell (‘Outliers: The Story of Success’; ‘Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking’ and other books) has commented, “Anyone who is in a creative space…you have to reverse the normal human tendency, which is to edit. Creative people…their brains are messy. Their imaginations are messy.

“Why, because they don’t want to throw anything out…they believe on some level that there is always something of interest or value in whatever they encounter.”

From my post Developing Creativity: Embrace Chaos.

This photo of a cluttered garage is from the video in my article Interested In So Many Things: Creative and Multitalented [on the site of my main book] – see link to source in the article.

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Chaos and Creative Expression

By Douglas Eby

Dylan Thomas-word-network“The very impulse to write, I think, springs from an inner chaos crying for order, for meaning, and that meaning must be discovered in the process of writing or the work lies dead as it is finished.” Arthur Miller

Creative people and writers about the creative process often say creative work is a way to release or make use of inner chaos; what is this turmoil?

Psychologist Stephen Diamond declares in his book that our impulse to be creative “can be understood to some degree as the subjective struggle to give form, structure and constructive expression to inner and outer chaos and conflict.”

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How Sensitivity Can Enhance Creativity

By Douglas Eby

Jessica Chastain in Miss Julie“For me, fashion is incredibly emotional. I go to shows in Paris and try not to cry.” Actor Jessica Chastain

Qualities such as emotionality and empathy can help highly sensitive people be especially creative.

The self-test Are You Highly Sensitive? by Elaine N. Aron, PhD includes the items:

“I have a rich, complex inner life” and
“I am deeply moved by the arts or music.”

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Being Happy As An Artist

By Douglas Eby

“I’ve suffered enough. When does my artwork improve?” Refrigerator magnet

StingThe tortured artist mythology is an ancient and enduring one: The idea that art depends on suffering, and artists need to be suffering with dark emotions, and need their pain to create.

But that is a wrong and destructive idea.

For example, in his appearance as a guest on The Ellen Show, Colin Farrell said he is more creative being sober and happy.

“I ascribed to the notion that to express yourself as an artist, you have to live in perpetual pain. And that’s nonsense.”

Musician Sting also said he bought into this myth for a long time:

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Transformational Writing and Sparking Creative Flow

By Douglas Eby

pen image from Getting Creative Juices Flowing article

Author, professor and CEO Ocean Robbins and his father John are examples of transformational writers. Ocean recalls:

“I was ten-years-old when my dad first began to write Diet for a New America. It was the first book to expose the truth about factory farms, and the link between food and our planet, to a wide audience. In the five years after the book’s publication in 1987, beef consumption in the United States dropped by 25%, and my dad received more than 50,000 letters from readers, thanking him for changing their lives.

“As we’ve seen in our family, sometimes writing can change the world.”

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Robin Williams: Intensity Is Not Pathology – Part 2

By Douglas Eby

[Continued from Part 1]

Robin WilliamsAs Dr. Webb explains “Existential depression is a depression that arises when an individual confronts certain basic issues of existence… (or ‘ultimate concerns’) – death, freedom, isolation and meaninglessness.”

[Gifted, Sensitive, In Need Of Meaning: Existential Depression.]

His related book: Searching for Meaning: Idealism, Bright Minds, Disillusionment, and Hope.

Webb has written extensively about how characteristics of giftedness that are a part of so many people – including well-known artists such as Robin Williams – are often misdiagnosed.

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Robin Williams: Intensity Is Not Pathology

By Douglas Eby

Robin Williams in What Dreams May ComeThe tone of a number of responses to the suicide of Robin Williams seem based in the insidious “Crazy Artist” mythology: that artistic creativity depends on mental disorder.

A number of people have expressed the idea that his brilliance and creative comic energy were fueled by his “demons” including addiction and bipolar depression.

One example was columnist Meghan Daum, who wrote: “As an actor and a comic, his emotional pendulum swung in a wide arc between manic ebullience and almost Zen-like sincerity.

“And the ease with which he occupied both realms…must surely be a kind of bipolar magic.”

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Idleness and Being Creative – Part 2

By Douglas Eby

[Continued from Part 1]

Idleness by John William GodwardLawton Ursery, quoted earlier, writes in his Forbes magazine article Your Brain Unplugged: Proof That Spacing Out Makes You More Effective:

“We’re taught that taking on more is better—it makes us more valuable. The reality is that doing too many things makes us less efficient.”

He notes that Andrew Smart, whom he interviewed, “argues that our ‘culture of effectiveness’ is not only ineffective, but it can be harmful to your well-being. Andrew says that in order to be more creative and more engaged, we need to unplug.”

Smart refers to research by neurologist Marcus Raichle, who “found that when subjects performed specific tasks, activity in certain brain regions, like the hippocampus, medial prefrontal cortex, and the precuneus, was suppressed.

“This was an odd conclusion, so Raichle decided to test further subjects but didn’t give them a specific task to complete.”

Ursery explains, “The result was that the exact same regions that deactivated during concentration become super active when not focused on a specific task—this means increased blood flow in your brain—this means a healthier, happier, more creative brain.

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Idleness and Being Creative

By Douglas Eby

Between the Trees by Ellie Davies

“I don’t think necessity is the mother of invention. Invention, in my opinion, arises directly from idleness, possibly also from laziness – to save oneself trouble.”
Agatha Christie [via brainyquote.com]

We may feel pressured to stay busy and keep producing, but is there some value for developing creativity in being, if not lazy, at least idle for a time?

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Photography: Art and Healing

By Douglas Eby

A Story of a Girl and a HorsePhotographic images can be a powerful form of expression for creative people, and also a tool for therapists and anyone to help explore our inner selves.

This image by artist Jennifer Moon is titled “A Story of a Girl and a Horse: The Search for Courage.”

A news article about an installation of her photographs, sculpture and text-based works at UCLA Hammer Museum’s “Made in L.A. 2014″ biennial, describes the piece as a “self-portrait, a chromogenic digital photo [that] depicts Moon on a chocolate brown horse, leaping over a bed of clouds shot through with electricity, as if she were riding a flying Unicorn.”

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