“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.”
“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.”
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.”
“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?
The work of London-based fashion photographer Natalie Dybisz, who works under the name Miss Aniela, is much more complex and intriguing.
Writer Sarah Bradley describes some of how Miss Aniela works:
“Blurring the lines between art, photography, and fashion, Miss Aniela’s collection of Surreal Fashion takes us to a mysterious place where the most elaborate and fantastical dreams come to life.”
We may watch a movie or TV show, read a novel or listen to music, and appreciate that the authors, those identified as artists, are certainly “creative types” – but what about the producers and set designers?
Or the computer engineers at digital animation companies like Pixar?
The MacArthur Foundation has a mission to “support creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world” and acknowledges there are many kinds of creators, awarding its renowned fellowships to a wide range of people: playwrights, novelists, dancers, botanists, economists, chemists, physicians, psychologists and many others.
A number of psychologists note that many personality traits connected with ADD and ADHD are also associated with highly creative people.
This is a topic I have addressed in previous Creative Mind posts, but here are some new perspectives, inspired by a documentary by Lisa Ling who was diagnosed with ADD during the course of her research for the project.
She commented, “As a journalist, when I’m immersed in a story, then I feel like I can laser-focus. But if I’m not working, my mind goes in every direction but where it’s supposed to go. I’ve been like that since I was a kid.”
One of the themes of creativity research, and many psychologists and creativity coaches, is how crucial beliefs and attitudes are in developing our creative abilities.
Psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson talks in the audio clip below about the prevalent idea of ‘genius’ for whether someone can be creative – or even aspire to be.
She also writes about focus and creating, and that “to be a successful creative, you need to not only be a good generator, but also a good evaluator. The problem is that in practice, it’s remarkably hard to be both.
“It’s better to be a pirate than to join the navy.” Steve Jobs
According to some writers and research, some of the “big names” of creativity and innovation share personal qualities with various sorts of “misfits.”
In her Forbes magazine article, writer Erica Swallow refers to the book “The Innovator’s DNA” which lists several “disruptive innovators” including a number of creative and business leaders such as Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Meg Whitman (eBay) and Sharon Aby (Beyond Ideas).
What seems to be a setback, error or limitation, may often be valuable for encouraging more creative thinking and innovation.
Valerie Young writes about two “mistakes” that resulted in very successful products:
“Did you know, for example, that Post-It-Notes were the result of what 3M Company researchers at first thought to be a bad batch of glue?