"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.
Woody Allen admits he has “a lot of neurotic habits. I don’t like to go into elevators, I don’t go through tunnels, I like the drain in the shower to be in the corner and not in the middle.” With so much psychology related material in the news and culture, we may be especially concerned with whether our behavior is a disorder, or normal - whatever that is - and if our eccentricities can help us be more creative somehow. What about all those "crazy" artists in history?
What emotions and thinking may hold us back from being more creative? The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence article "Creativity, Emotions and the Arts" quoted in Part 2 talks about students holding back from being creative out of concerns "that people might think original ideas are silly" - but this kind of retreating from creative work can apply to us at any age. An example might be Joss Whedon - one of my favorite artists, who has credits as actor, writer, producer and director of movies and TV shows including Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Dollhouse, The Avengers, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. etc etc.
Continuing her remarks for the Emotion Revolution Summit at Yale [see Part 1], Lady Gaga noted some of the approaches she has explored to deal with her anxiety and depression, and to enhance her emotional health: "I take anti-depressant medication for it. I have tried to get off of it my doctor always tells me not to, that it's not safe for me to. "Whenever I've tried to I've gotten very neurotic, manic, sick so I have had to study all different types of ways... I started looking into Ayurvedic medicine. I started looking into meditation.
“I am the kind of person that feels so much that if I didn’t have acting (and music), I would burst from all of the emotion inside!” – Actor Gloria Reuben “I don’t like emotions… For some reason I’m more comfortable in imaginary circumstances.” – Actor William H. Macy Do you remember how much you felt and thought as a child? Probably a lot if you are creative, especially if you are gifted or highly sensitive.
"Who knows where inspiration comes from. Perhaps it arises from desperation. Perhaps it comes from the flukes of the universe, the kindness of the muses."
Being creative is not some kind of personality trait; you need to have more than just creative ideas or innovative possibilities, you need to actually do something in the world: record that song, write a book or article, put together a smart phone app. As author and entrepreneur Seth Godin says, “What you do for a living is not be creative, what you do is ship.”