On creativity and angst

I was having a conversation with fellow artists yesterday on why it is that it’s so much easier to write or create when we’re in a state of personal turmoil. We were talking about the limitations of this source of inspiration, especially once you have some success with your art and need to create all the time.

It’s a tricky situation and all artists have been there – life is good, life is happy, so you have NO new ideas and that makes you frustrated and miserable.  Ah, the irony!

It’s why some well-known artists struggle to do work that’s on a par with what they made when they were struggling and unappreciated.  They just don’t have the angst to drive the powerful creative stuff out of them, once they have the adoration of millions of fans & a private jet (I’m speaking from observation rather than experience, you understand!).

Here’s the thing: when you are in an emotionally painful state, your feelings are intense, the world comes into strong focus, everything is turned up loud – and that’s a magic shortcut to good art.  Hence the millions of songs about breaking up.

However bad a situation is, it takes you to a place of deep feeling which isn’t where you spend every day.  It’s extraordinary feelings that lead to extraordinary work.  For the same reason, the bitter-sweetness of falling in love can lead to some beautiful artistic output, again because the emotions are turned up way louder than usual.

So, how do you get to that place without being dumped by the love of your life or falling in love once a week?

The answer is, as it is with so many things, PRACTICE and LEARNING.  Art isn’t something you do for a part of your life, it’s a WAY of life, and part of that way is feeling and looking beyond the everyday, every day.

Tall order, n’est-ce pas?

I’m working on gathering all my know-how, from my own practice, research and from speaking to other artists, about how you access creative excellence when you need it.

It’s a tricky thing to pull off, but it is totally possible – many artists do it every day.  There are lots of techniques, exercises and starting points which can get you to the deep places where your art lies waiting to come out.

As a happy side effect, the techniques also will help you grab life by the wotsits and live more fully, because connecting with the extraordinary every day means you turn the volume up not just on your art, but on EVERYTHING.

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