Creative people use solitude as a means of connecting with themselves and to focus while at the same time engaging in collaborations and being part of a community. Solitude and community might seem contradictory and despite appearances, they really aren’t.
Regardless of personality traits and attributes (i.e. introversion) and with few exceptions, creative people- like any other group- are social people who can greatly benefit from balancing solitude and community and utilizing relationships as a support system.
Psychotherapists typically assess a person’s support system prior to delving into therapeutic work in order to ensure that person feels supported outside of the time spent in therapy; a number of people (family, friends, peers) that will provide support and encouragement to staying on track and make important internal changes. We (therapists) do this because we are able to recognize that even though the ability to change rests upon the individual, the surrounding environment is equally important when it comes to success.
It is interesting to notice that while virtually any person regardless of their career choice has a professional network they can rely on (though monthly or yearly get togethers and networking events), artists and creative people find each other through their city’s art districts and arts communities. Having lived on a few continents and in different areas of various countries I noticed that creative people, myself included, tend to gravitate towards such groups. By being a part of a community of creative people you will find yourself surrounded with art and creativity and will feel compelled to experiment more and challenge yourself more creatively, because the nature of these communities tends to be focused on support.
While I am always at my best creatively when I work in solitude, I find myself pulled towards the warm embrace of the arts community in my town, to the like-minded people who are all too familiar with what it means to be a creative and the shared struggles or challenges we encounter, without having to give any lengthy explanations.
Being part of a community helps not only normalize day to day struggles with lack of inspiration or creative blocks but it also can help you feel less isolated and alone, less like an odd duck and more like a part of the world, a world of creativity.
Some creative people choose to remain isolated, sometimes out of the belief that this is who they are, a personal philosophy of life grounded in the fear that by socially engaging with others- even if those others are also creative people- they will lose their identity, their creative “mojo”, the thing that sets them apart as artists and what makes them unique: they fear becoming “normal”.
Certainly this view couldn’t be further from the truth and such mythic beliefs are born out of previous negative experiences lumped and generalized without much discrimination for the context and specific details of those situations.
The truth is that –with few exceptions- we are all social beings and we need others around not only to survive but to also feel motivated to improve and to challenge ourselves to go further with confidence.
As creative people, we need others to see the work we do (after all art is meant to be seen), to give us feedback and also to normalize some of the chaos that comes with the creative territory.
Aside from these internal benefits, being a part of a community of creatives can also expand your audience reach, increase the chances of doing collaborative work (in which you can discover a brand new part of yourself and a new method to create) and extend your creative network. A community can give you the opportunity to experience art and creativity from the various perspectives of all the other people surrounding you, at a collective level rather than the individual one you can provide for yourself.
In these terms, a community of creative people translates into creativity multiplied, a diverse source of inspiration that never ceases to provide and an opportunity to feel supported if you choose, in turn, to support; you get as much as you put in.
Consider becoming a part of the creative community in your area and notice the changes it brings in your vision, your life, and your creative work. If you are in Denver, CO give The Creativity Incubator a try; it’s a free resource and support group that meets bi-weekly and aims to support the creatives in the Denver metro area.