Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Five Reasons Why Creative People Self Destruct: The Untold Stresses of the Creative Mind

Have you heard this before? "Oh, I wish I could do what you do all day. Sitting around, writing stories/writing music/painting/whatever. No stress, no worries, just the fun of being creative."

Now, don't get me wrong, being creative is fun. Most of the time. Maybe about 60% of the time. But, being creative is power-packed with stress that is unique to itself. So, just for all you creative beings to have something to show those people who don't understand you, here's a list of some of the more stressful parts of being creative:

  1. Being an outsider: Very early on in the creative life, you realize that you're different from everybody else. When you tell stories that are filled with embellishments and extra goodies, when you are tapping out rhythms on everything your hands are near and being labelled "annoying", when you've drawn on all your clothes and books and people think you're weird, you realize you aren't going to be accepted by the social world you're a part of. Then, as the favorite words used to describe creative people are applied to you, words like "eccentric" and "in her own little world", you understand that, no matter what people tell you, you truly are alone in a crowd. Of course you get used to it, looking at the world through your own tinted glasses and knowing there's another dimension you can only share through your art, but it still creates stress.
  2. The extra time tasks take: When other's attack a pile of laundry, it's a to-do list item. They get in, get out, and move on. When you attack a pile of laundry, you're transported to a hillside in Austria, where you're washing clothes in the river while avoiding Nazi soldiers. Oh no, there's one now, peeking through the bushes. Must hide, must get away. Wait, do they have my father? Oh, crap, that was a white shirt, wasn't it? Dang it, I got distracted again.
  3. Rejection: The biggest reason most people don't try to create is because they're afraid of how people will react. Creative people are afraid of that too, but we create anyway. Then, the fear of people's rejection that kept so many from even trying makes us neurotic. What will people think? What if they don't like it? Will they notice that flaw? That's why we annoy our friends with questions about our art. We're afraid and stressed that it wasn't very good.
  4. The ever demanding muse: A 9-5 would be nice. Leave your work at the office, yeah, that'd be great. Being creative means you can't ever stop working. Even when you're playing with your kids, they say something cute and you don't want to forget it. So you run the line in your head a thousand times, re-working it, creating a character to say it, and before you know it, play time is over. You don't see a flower as a flower, you see a flower as your next subject to paint, or compose about, or write about. There's no rest for your troubled mind.
  5. The suddenly silent muse: Our biggest fear, the one thing that terrifies us the most, is that day when we wake up and we're normal. Our creative juices aren't flowing any more. There's no stories, no music, no art. The world is boring. And we wonder if it will ever come back. And it kills us, because so many people have wished we would just take a vacation, but the vacation is worse than the job.
So, the next time someone goes on a tirade about another creative person who lost their mind, gently remind them, "At least they had a mind to lose."