Creative Thinking

Developing Creativity – Eric Maisel on Mindfulness

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally. This kind of attention nurtures greater awareness, clarity, and acceptance of present-moment reality."
Jon Kabat-Zinn  - from his book Wherever You Go, There You Are.

Many others talk about mindfulness as a way to not only manage stress, but enhance personal development and creativity.

Nonjudgmental awareness may be a key element in divergent thinking - an aspect of creativity and innovation.

Creativity coach and therapist Eric Maisel, PhD notes mindfulness includes noticing our thoughts about creative expression.

Creative Thinking

Amanda Dunbar – Creating is an Act of Blind Faith

Amanda Dunbar was considered a prodigy, and her paintings have been compared to Monet and Renoir. She has also created the Precious Rebels line of Swarovski crystal-adorned guitars.

In an interview about the guitars, Dunbar commented about her creative process:

"I am very private when I work and I work on many pieces at a time. I often light a beautiful candle, turn my music up loud and begin working until I can really connect with my inner self, my muse. I often work through the night where interruptions are infrequent."

Being "very private" is an important strategy of creative work for many artists. And it may relate to being highly sensitive - see my post Solitude is not pathology for the high sensitivity personality.

Asked about being considered a child-prodigy painter, she said:

Creative Thinking

Alan Ball on Creating for Fun

Filmmaker Alan Ball is a writer, producer and director of films including Towelhead and American Beauty, and TV series Six Feet Under, and True Blood.

He refers to an earlier television show ("Oh, Grow Up") as "an abject failure" - because it had been "totally manufactured to appeal to as many demographics as it possibly could."

In an interview, he was asked about the religious right's likely offense over both "True Blood" and "Towelhead."

Ball replied:
"I don't really care what they think. You know what? Yeah, this stuff punches emotional buttons and some people are going to be able to see beyond that and some won't.

"My approach is to try to do work that I would really be entertained and moved by, and that's all I know how to do. I've been successful writing things that I have fun making."

Creative Thinking

Creative Obsession

"The refusal to rest content, the willingness to risk excess on behalf of one's obsessions, is what distinguishes artists from entertainers, and what makes some artists adventurers on behalf of us all." John Updike, about J. D. Salinger.
Developing creativity and realizing creative ideas usually takes a degree of obsession.

But it isn't a disorder.

In an overview on Psych Central of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Michael Demitri, M.D. notes it is considered an anxiety disorder when it's "characterized by recurrent and disturbing thoughts and/or repetitive, ritualized behaviors that the person feels driven to perform. Obsessions can also take the form of intrusive images or unwanted impulses."

In contrast, creative obsessions are not unwanted. We choose to be engaged with compelling and motivating creative ideas.

The image is a replica Dodo skeleton crafted by Adam Savage (co-host of the TV series "Mythbusters").

Mental Health

Therapy Would Kill My Creativity

"I want to keep my sufferings. They are part of me and my art." Painter Edvard Munch

"I had the feeling therapy was good for my writing very early on." Filmmaker Agnes Jaoui
Referring to Munch’s statement, psychiatrist Kay Redfield Jamison notes in her book Touched with fire: Manic-depressive illness and the artistic temperament:

"This is a common concern. Many artists and writers believe that turmoil, suffering, and extremes in emotional experience are integral not only to the human condition but to their abilities as artists."

She adds that many fear that "psychiatric treatment will transform them into normal, well-adjusted, dampened, and bloodless souls — unable, or unmotivated, to write, paint, or compose."

Creative Thinking

Amber Benson on Writing: Creating is Kind of Intoxicating

As an actor, Amber Benson may be best known as Tara on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and she has continued to do other acting projects since then.

She has multiple credits as a novelist and screenwriter, co-writing and directing an animated web-series, Ghosts of Albion, for the BBC, and co-writing several Buffy comics.

She has written, produced, and directed three feature films, including her latest, Drones. Her novels include "Among The Ghosts," coming in August - a "spooky Boarding School/cool girl heroine/ghost story" as she describes it on her blog.

In various interviews, Benson describes some of her thinking and experiences as a writer.


Too Much to Contain – Intensity and Creativity

One of the defining qualities of creative people is passionate intensity. Creative visionaries, people who make a strong impact on culture, make use of their intensities to fuel creative expression.

Joss Whedon is writer, producer and director of movies and TV shows including Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog and Dollhouse. Last year he received the third annual 2009 Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism from Harvard.

In his acceptance speech video, he talked about discovering existentialism as a teenager from seeing Steven Spielberg's movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."

Creative Thinking

Developing Creativity: Creating From Childhood

Creative people often acknowledge that they respect and make use of their childhood interests, experiences and personalities, perhaps in ways that other people don't, or tend to discard as adults.

Feeling joyful and enthusiastic, unhurried, unstructured and uncritical as a kid are all qualities that can encourage creativity.

But there are also dark sides of childhood for many people that can also motivate powerful writing and other creative work.

Creative Thinking

Curiosity and Creativity

Director Jason Reitman ("Up in the Air") was asked why he has such a good voice for writing women characters, and he replied:

"One, I write well about things that I'm most curious. Two, I've had two long relationships with older women in my life." [From interview by Rebecca Murray.]

Probably most writers and other artists share his perspective that curiosity fuels creativity in some ways.

Psychologist Todd Kashdan says, "Curiosity has been neglected, even though there are few things in our arsenal that are so consistently and highly related to every facet of well-being — to needs for belonging, for meaning, for confidence, for autonomy, for spirituality, for achievement, for creativity."


Being Highly Sensitive, Being Creative

"The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive."
This famous and widely-circulated quote of writer Pearl Buck (winner of a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1938) continues:
"To them... a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death.

"Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create -- so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, their very breath is cut off...

"By some strange, unknown, inward urgency they are not really alive unless they are creating."
This "inward urgency" - the pressure to invent, to actualize ideas - is certainly part of the creative mind, and something I will write more about in future posts.