Undercutting Our Creativity With Self-Sabotaging Limits

“Don’t compromise yourself. You’re all you’ve got.”
That is great advice from Janis Joplin [quoted in the Changing Course newsletter].

But we may do just that: compromise, stifle ourselves, shut down what we are capable of, creatively and in other ways - often based on our self-limiting thinking.

In her book "Revolution From Within," Gloria Steinem cautioned that neglecting to use our human capacities, out of fear or shame, "leaves a small hole in the fabric of our self-esteem. Think of the times you have said, 'I can't write,' 'I can't paint'... Since this was not literally true, you were really saying: 'I can't meet some outside standard. I'm not acceptable as I am.'"

Creative Thinking

Julia Cho: "Least Likely Playwright Possible"

Julia Cho reportedly wrote her first play in eighth grade, and has received commissions from South Coast Repertory, the Mark Taper Forum and many other theaters.

She is a graduate of Amherst College, has degrees from UC Berkeley, NYU and The Juilliard School, and won the 2010 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for her play "The Language Archive."

In an interview (15 minutes with . . . Julia Cho, by Cristofer Gross, The Theater Times), she made some very interesting comments about her experiences as a writer - which can apply to many other creative people as well.


Imagination and Happiness and Creativity

“I don’t like emotions… For some reason I’m more comfortable in imaginary circumstances.” Actor William H. Macy
One of the primary tools we have for creative expression is imagination.

In his book “Stumbling on Happiness” Harvard psychology professor Daniel Gilbert declares that "To see is to experience the world as it is, to remember is to experience the world as it was, but to imagine—ah, to imagine is to experience the world as it isn’t and has never been, but as it might be.


Not Knowing – More Creativity

Creative expression may require thinking, planning, research, evaluation and other conscious intellectual activity, but at some stages in the process it can be helpful, even necessary, to set aside thinking and give up an attachment to knowing.

One of the early theorists on the creative process, Graham Wallas, defined five stages, including preparation (requiring mental focus, evaluation etc) and incubation, where "nothing external seems to be happening."

This unconscious work of our minds may even be the most critical, at least once we have provided enough mental "fuel" to work on.

Creative Thinking

Laurie R. King on Becoming and Being a Writer

Laurie R. King is well-known for her detective fiction series featuring Mary Russell, wife and partner of Sherlock Holmes, and another series featuring Kate Martinelli, a homicide inspector in San Francisco.

In her autobiography, she asks "Is a writer - is any artist, for that matter -born, or made? Or is it some near-random combination of chance and drive that shapes the person?"

And she answers, "Well, yes."

She goes on to describe her development as a writer:


Felicia Day on Being Creatively Bored and Developing Her Own Project

Actor, writer, producer Felicia Day has become well-known for her work in web video, such as the Internet musical “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog” and the web series “The Guild”, which she created, writes and stars in.

She graduated college as Valedictorian of her class, with degrees in Mathematics and Violin Performance, and went on to pursue acting in movies, TV shows and commercials.

In a recent interview on [email protected], hosted by Amber MacArthur and Leo Laporte, she commented about feeling "creatively bored" with the kind of repetitive acting jobs she was getting, and decided to write a project based on her passion for gaming, which became The Guild.


Developing Creativity – Our Shadow Side

"There is no light without shadow and no psychic wholeness without imperfection." C.G. Jung
Carl Jung and many others have pointed out that we have hidden, unconscious or half-conscious depths of our psyches, with thoughts, feelings and impulses we think are "bad" or "unacceptable" - that we may be offended by and actively ignore, deny or try to cover up.

Making good use of all this isn’t a matter of freely acting on our urges or fantasies, of course. There are jails for people who do.

But this inner landscape can be a source of personal growth and creative expression.

Creative Thinking

Creative Passion: Teeming Neurons or Muse?

Does creative inspiration come from our own teeming neurons, or is it a gift of a Muse?

A passion to create may feel like something from beyond us, or from a spirit being, but maybe that is what anything from the not quite known inner depths of our psyche feels like.

In his article Perspiration Meets Inspiration or, The Return of the Muse, Matt Cardin explains, "The muse model tells us that creativity can be pictured as an external force or presence that visits a person on its own timetable and inspires him or her -- that is, 'breathes into' him or her -- the idea and motivation to accomplish some sort of creative work."

Mental Health

Creative Thinking and Schizophrenia

As tormenting and devastating as it is, schizophrenia may also include qualities of thinking that enhance creativity - qualities we may all experience, even if we aren't psychotic.

But the distinction between "real" creative ideas and delusion can be tricky, as mathematician John Forbes Nash, Jr. experienced.

As related in "A Beautiful Mind," the bio by Sylvia Nasar (the photo is Russell Crowe as Nash in the movie version), Nash was asked how he could believe that he was "being recruited by aliens from outer space to save the world."

Nash replied, “Because the ideas I had about supernatural beings came to me the same way that my mathematical ideas did. So I took them seriously.”

Creative Thinking

The Creative Potential of Eccentricity

"Several people warned me about Tim Burton. He is decidedly eccentric, they whispered, totally wrapped up in his wild imagination."
Journalist Michael Dwyer went on to say, "Perhaps they were confusing the man with his movies, because they got it all wrong. Burton proved to be delightful, very talkative and bubbling with enthusiasm." (The Irish Times, Dec.10, 1994.)

Many of the most creative people are eccentric - with innovative, divergent thinking along with their non-conforming behavior.

Albert Einstein said, “Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment.

"Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.”

And it is precisely those kinds of opinions that may be creative ideas.