Although it can be a very individual endeavor, and nurtured in solitude, creative expression can also depend on relationships and be enhanced through personal interactions.

Anne Paris, a clinical psychologist who has helped many artists, emphasizes the importance of connections with others for the creative process.

She says, “We all need relationships with others to be at our best. When we are surrounded with support, we are more productive, happy, and energetic. Positive relationships help to move us forward and help us to grow.”

In an article, she quotes Loren Long, an “accomplished artist who has illustrated many books.”

Long says, “My wife is not an artist, but she has great taste. I run everything by her, sometimes daily as I’m working on a project,” he said. “She is my first level of screening. If she likes it, then I feel the confidence to proceed.”

Long adds that his publishers’ opinions “are also very important to me. Not just because they determine if my work is adequate. I admire and respect them a lot. I want them to like what I’ve done. I guess that, in general, I always need someone to like my work.

“If they don’t, my self-doubts come to the surface. You know, like I’m not living up to the grand fantasies I have about myself or about what my work should look like.”

Dr. Paris thinks, “Positive relationships also help the artist along in his creative process. Good relationships can bolster our courage to take the plunge into creativity. And likewise, not-so-good relationships, or a lack of relationships, can inhibit our drive.”

Read more (and see a video interview with Paris) in her article The Need for Others.

The dreaded writer’s block

In another article of hers, she gives an example of a client struggling with a common issue.

“Mary squirmed in her chair, ‘I just don’t know what is wrong with me. Why can’t I just do it? I feel stressed all the time when I’m not writing. “I should be writing,” I say to myself, but I don’t. I think, if I just get the laundry done, then I’ll be free to sit down and write the next chapter. But then I don’t.”

Dr. Paris notes that “most experts have offered behavioral strategies to help artists initiate and sustain their creative process: ‘Set aside a time and place everyday for the creative endeavor’ or ‘Tell yourself you can do it’ or ‘You must exercise a great deal of self-discipline.’

“Structure can certainly help artists to focus and to discipline their time. But many artists do not find the strength to overcome deeply embedded blocks with this advice.”

She finds that “New research in neuroscience and contemporary psychological approaches show that these strategies are only part of the answer.

“Revolutionary understandings in clinical psychology now suggest that healthy interpersonal relationships are the fuel for optimal emotional, cognitive, intellectual, behavioral, and creative functioning.”

From article A New Approach to Igniting and Sustaining Creativity.

Anne Paris is author of the book Standing at Water’s Edge: Moving Past Fears, Blocks, and Pitfalls to Discover the Power of Creative Immersion.

The image is from the book Party of One: The Loners’ Manifesto, by Anneli Rufus.

One reviewer (V. Marshall) commented, “In a world where loners are thought to be strange, crazy serial killers who cannot conform to society, Rufus encourages the idea that most loners in truth are the great creators and contemplators of the world.”