A Calling to Be Creative

By Douglas Eby

Lupita Nyong’o and fatherWhat leads, urges, even compels so many of us to be creatively expressive?

Given that everyone is creative to some degree, why do many people choose careers in the arts, or work that actively engages their creativity?

Most of us will never be actors or other filmmakers – especially ones that are seen and acknowledged publicly – but many of those creators talk about what calls them to engage in creative work, despite the challenges.

One example: Lupita Nyong’o, who won an Academy Award for best supporting actress on March 2, 2014 for her role in “12 Years a Slave.”

In her moving acceptance speech, she noted one source of inspiration for her portrayal of a slave: “It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s. And so I want to salute the spirit of Patsey for her guidance.”

She also thanked director Steve McQueen: “You charge everything you fashion with a breath of your own spirit. Thank you so much for putting me in this position, it’s been the joy of my life.”

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Painter Robert Genn on Art and Happiness

By Douglas Eby

Robert GennIn an issue of his newsletter, artist Robert Genn notes that in his book “Against Happiness” writer Eric Wilson “disparages our current love affair with putting on a happy face.”

Wilson thinks that with our “feel good” culture and the “widespread use of happy drugs, everybody’s trying to be cheerful and there are no decent dollops of melancholy and sadness. When this happens, art becomes bland, unchallenging and redundant.”

Genn notes, “Dr. Thomas Svolos of the department of Psychiatry at Creighton University School of Medicine thinks Wilson is right. ‘When you’re melancholy, you tend to step back and examine your life,’ he says. ‘That kind of questioning is essential for creativity.’

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Creative People, Trauma, Addiction: Colin Farrell

By Douglas Eby

“Basically, I’d been fairly drunk or high since I was 14.” Colin Farrell

Colin FarrellWhy do so many creative people use and abuse drugs, often to the point of addiction?

There is of course no easy answer, but one of the factors for many people may be childhood trauma.

In his article Emotional Trauma: An Often Overlooked Root of Addiction, David Sack, M.D. writes, “A history of childhood neglect or sexual, physical or emotional abuse is common among people undergoing treatment for alcoholism and may be a factor in the development of alcohol use disorders…

“Trauma has been associated not only with drug addiction but also overeating, compulsive sexual behavior and other types of addictions.”

Another article notes, “Children who have a history of abuse, neglect, or trauma may exhibit oppositional behavior as a response to their experiences. Experiencing any kind of traumatic event increases a child’s likelihood of acting out, as they must cope with challenging feelings, thoughts, and memories.”

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Sensitivity and Creativity: Cheryl Richardson and Alanis Morissette

By Douglas Eby

Self-Care for the Creative Soul“The more you become your own best champion, supporter, cheerleader, and trusted confidant, the better able you’ll be to fully and joyfully express your blessed creativity.

“That’s when your art becomes more and more successful in the world. It begins with treating yourself with love, respect, kindness, and compassion.”

Those quotes by coach and author Cheryl Richardson relate to her extensive writing and teaching on self-care for creative and highly sensitive people.

She is presenting “Self-Care for the Creative Soul” with Alanis Morissette – a retreat March 2-6, 2014, at Miraval Resort in Tucson, Arizona.

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Journaling to Bring Creative Ideas to Life

By Douglas Eby

Journaling to create cool ideas videoMaybe you kept a diary – or still do. Or use a notebook as a helpful tool for personal growth, to track thinking and inspiration.

Artists, as well as entrepreneurs and other creative people, often use storyboards, journals, mindmapping and other idea tools for developing creative projects.

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Creative Expression and Sexual Abuse

By Douglas Eby

Artemisia Gentileschi self portraitSo many people experience unwanted sexual contact, rape and other forms of sexual abuse.

And they often help deal with the aftermath through creative expression, perhaps using art therapy, but more often some other form of creative self-expression.

One of many articles on the topic here on Psych Central, Mental Disorders Often Follow Sexual Abuse by Rick Nauert PhD, reports: “Researchers have discovered that a history of sexual abuse is frequently linked with a lifetime diagnosis of multiple psychiatric disorders…this association held true regardless of the victim’s gender or age when the abuse occurred.”

There are many references and articles on “healing” from sexual abuse and other kinds of trauma, but it is important to keep in mind the emotional and spiritual impacts may endure, at least to some degree; dealing with abuse is not like healing a broken bone.

But experiencing abuse of any kind also does not make us “damaged goods” – see actor Teri Hatcher’s comments below.

The painting is a self portrait by Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1653). An article notes she was raped by an art tutor of hers, followed by a “highly publicised seven-month trial. This event makes up the central theme of a controversial French film, Artemisia (1998), directed by Agnes Merlet.

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Calling Yourself an Artist

By Douglas Eby

Michelle CorneliusHow important is it to identify yourself as an artist – to others, and especially to yourself?

What if you don’t get awards for your creative work? What if it isn’t even seen by others?

Are you still an artist if you are doing something else for survival?

Psychologist Robert Maurer has worked with many creative people and researches the dynamics of success. He comments:

“The people who love their craft and see themselves as artists, and carry that identity through and study each day… are the people who thrive. To me, that’s the only definition of success that matters.”

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Self Care and Being Creative Part 2

By Douglas Eby

[Continued from Part 1]

Henry RollinsMusician Henry Rollins commented about being a performer and staying healthy on road tours:

“Eating well is becoming easier on the road as more places are health conscious. Gyms are easy to find anywhere there’s electricity and traffic.

“Time is the hard part. I do my best and I learned a long time ago that without recuperative sleep, good nutrition and constant exercise, this high stress lifestyle of traveling, etc. quickly takes a toll. I just see it as a very important thing and make sure I get it done.”

From my article Taking Care of Your Creative Self.

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Self Care and Being Creative

By Douglas Eby

Replenish 365 program by WellGrounded LifeMany people feel inspired to pursue creative projects, even multiple ones at the same time. One potential downside is physical and emotional burnout.

Good self-care is taking steps daily, even hourly, to stay replenished with the energy and positive attitude needed to be productively creative.

One way is to slow down or shift our thinking about having “too much to do.”

Entrepreneur coach Molly Gordon writes about this kind of shift:

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Lisa Sonora Beam On Success As A Creative Entrepreneur

By Douglas Eby

“The act of making something new makes us vulnerable.”

Lisa Sonora BeamThat is a comment by artist and creative business consultant Lisa Sonora Beam, who writes in her book “The Creative Entrepreneur” about the variety of challenges that creative people face in developing a piece of artwork, a small business, or themselves as a writer or other artist – the central element of a creative endeavor.

She notes people may “experience a kind of mythic divide” between their creative work and business practicalities.

“This split can create tension and even trauma for the creative soul who is blessed with passion and purpose yet cursed by the seemingly mysterious realm of strategies and skills that are necessary to make an idea real.”

She notes that her book “addresses the three main issues that can result in creative business failure: emotional and psychological blockages, faulty thinking about the creative process, and a lack of practical business knowledge.”

One approach she finds very helpful for herself and clients is visual journaling:

“It is one of the most powerful tools I know to gain insight, solve problems, and explore new ideas without the pressure to produce a product… it is an appealing and unique vehicle for entrepreneurial explorations.

“If you have trouble with the word journal, call it a sketchbook or a notebook. Sketches and notes are never confused with the work they ultimately inspire.”

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Recent Comments
  • InTheMoment: You might check out ADHD/BiPolar as more likely culprits than trauma in leading so many of theses...
  • vic marlow: Of course, they make sure to make the suggestion that latent inhibition can’t help anyone with low...
  • Chase Jackson: Journaling and mind-mapping work absolute wonders for me in developing my creative ideas. Great Work!
  • Andri Monoyiou: Yes, been there… So are we artists or just depressed people trying to heal? What if only art...
  • James Williamson: A fascinating insight into high sensitivity.
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