The Paradox of Creative Activity

Do any of you have this problem: when alone, you are incapable or uninterested in writing, yet when you are amongst others, (particularly significant others!), who are putting demands on your time, the words start percolating in your mind, and you are ready and willing to write?

The Paradox of Creative Activity

A friend of mine and I were recently discussing this paradox of writing. He likes to write music; I like to write words. We both agreed that when we were alone, we are emotionally incapable of doing any sort of creative activity, yet when we were with our family, the creative juices get flowing, and we have the irresistible urge to create, often to the point of causing conflict with our wives, who do sometimes desire more than 20 second monosyllable conversations.

It’s a frustrating fact for me that the times when I am most emotionally capable of composing my opuses, epics, and manifestos are the very times when I have other people around me, competing for my attention.

At the times of my life when I have been alone, when I should be able to write without distractions, I am totally unable to concentrate on writing anything, let alone have the desire to do so. Why is this? I believe that when I am alone anxiety of one form or another overtakes me, and I can’t face the task of creation. Be it the fear of failure, or the fear of success, bad feelings stifle me, and the minor distractions of life, (watching TV, fussing over some trivial tasks, searching for some snack food to munch on, wondering what’s new at the “Big Nostril Mamas” website), now become irresistible.

How to Counter this Paradox?

To counter the anxiety, all too many writers, (and artists), turn to drugs, particularly alcohol. This type of self-destructive behavior seems to be an occupational hazard of those who attempt to make a living off creative activity. While drugs may serve as a short-term crutch to get you past certain fears, over the long term they take a dreadful toll.

My friend mentioned several books on enhancing the creative process that he has been reading, and said that it was often suggested that setting a “structure” in place, a certain pattern or discipline to your day, could help overcome the fears we face when we are alone and attempting to create. Examples of these “structures” could be the daily routine of making yourself a cup of tea and sitting yourself down at your desk promptly every morning at 8:00 am, or playing a song on the piano, or using the “morning pages” technique, where you write whatever comes into your mind for 15 minutes or so.

How about you? Those of you who live alone, how do you face your fears when sitting down to write? Those of you who are a member of a family, how do you “detach” without causing bad feelings? How do you “detach” without feelings of anxiety filling the new separation?

While there is no sure cure or antidote to the anxiety creative folks face, we can get some help. A book I recommend to all of us who attempt to create, (and which I bet many of us have already read), is “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron.* It’s an inspiring read, and we can use the unedited wilderness of PAA to store our morning pages!

* – yes, this is an affiliate link.


Originally posted by us on FullofKnowledge.