Being a misfit or outsider can be distressing or downright painful, especially as a teen, but many artists say it is part of their experience that helps them be more creative.
Writer Anne Rice talks about being “a bad student, I daydreamed in class, wrote stories in my notebooks. I learned the basics, but most of my active intellectual life was outside of school. It was acutely painful because [my sister and I] felt different, like misfits. Our individuality was almost irrepressible, but I wanted to fit in.”
“If I was in denial about my sexuality, I’d be in denial about aspects of my work, which deals with personal revelations.” Artist Tracey Emin
“Sexuality is the greatest gift we’ve been given. Its energy is the basis of creativity, love, ambition, desire, life. Sexuality has gotten all these bad raps because it’s so powerful.” Writer Eve Ensler
Multitalented people often express stimulating perspectives on realizing their creative abilities and passions. Here are comments from three well-known artists.
Xavier Dolan has credits including: Actor, Writer, Producer, Costume designer, and at age 25 has directed five feature films.
He has said “I don’t know that I’m being prolific, I’m just responding, I’m being authentic and I’m just listening to my needs in terms of expression.” …
A full list of talented and creative people who suffer anxiety, depression and other mental health challenges, would, of course, be limitless; being creative, gifted and talented does not exempt any of us from those problems.
Novelist Patricia Cornwell is one example of an artist who has experienced mental health issues.
“I’ve had my own difficulties. My wiring’s not perfect and there are ways that you can stabilise that. I have certain things that run in my own ancestry.
“It’s not unusual for great artistic people to have bipolar disorder, for example…The diagnosis goes back and forth but I’m pretty sure that I am…I take a mood stabiliser.”
“In the creative process every human being is confronted with doubts and contradictions and flaws…”
Acclaimed for his films including “Amores Perros,” “Babel” and “21 Grams,” Alejandro González Iñárritu has earned a number of award nominations for directing and co-writing “Birdman.”
In a theatre, we can enjoy the results of sometimes hundreds of talented people collaborating on making a movie, but there may be many years of often messy and emotionally challenging creative process that goes into getting a film actually produced and released. Iñárritu has made a number of interesting comments about that process.
In the 1960s, paintings of “sad-eyed children,” massively reproduced in posters and cards, became possibly the best-selling art in the world for a time, thanks to the tireless marketing by Walter Keane of “his” work. The “big eyes” images were owned by celebrities and hung in many permanent collections.
But Walter Keane was a fraud and plagiarist: the art was actually created by his wife Margaret Keane.
British mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, and pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing led a group of other brilliant codebreakers, including Joan Clarke, at Bletchley Park outside London during WWII to crack the German’s Enigma code.
One of his biographers, professor S. Barry Cooper, writes that Turing “was a strange man, who never felt at ease in any place…He randomly adopted some conventions of his class, but rejected with no regret and hesitation most of their habits and ideas.
Elyn Saks (photo at right in Part 1) is a law professor at USC; an adjunct professor of psychiatry at UC San Diego, where she does research about society’s rejection of the mentally ill and how high-functioning schizophrenics cope; and is a recipient of a “genius” grant from the MacArthur Foundation.
An article notes “She kept her schizophrenia hidden while excelling in her academic studies, receiving a philosophy degree from Oxford University and a law degree from Yale University.”
She wrote of her experiences in her memoir, “The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness.”
See more in post: Elyn Saks, Schizophrenia and Creativity.
She has commented, “Ironically, the more I accepted I had a mental illness, the less the illness defined me — at which point the riptide set me free.”
One of the myths of creative and multitalented people may be that they can choose whatever personal and career paths they want.
Having many interests and abilities can make for a rich and satisfying life, but also be a source of stress, especially at crossroads like choosing college majors.
Gifted education specialist Tamara Fisher quotes Bryant (a pseudonym), a graduating senior who lists his possible future careers as “applied psychologist, scientific psychologist, college teacher, philosophy, mathematics, architect, engineer.”
“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.”