Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Creative Addiction

Having a creative mind is like having an addiction. Don’t misunderstand me. It doesn’t necessarily result in copious amounts of artistic output, as many of you know. In fact it often leads to the flip side of the coin, constantly stalling or putting off the next step or stage, escapism, or distraction. Why? Because having a creative mind means we have this amazing ability to create all sorts of reasoning and justification to apply to our situation which has just as much influence to stop us from doing, as it does to inspire us.

The creative addiction is complicated, because there are so many layers to it, like an onion. On the one hand we have the uncanny knack of being able to be suddenly inspired by the smallest trigger, yet we can create a myriad of excuses to not see something through. This juxtaposition can become frustrating and very disheartening not only to the person, but also to those around them. I know in my own experience i have met many talented musicians and artists who not only have rarely made their work public, but who seem to make it their life’s mission to come up with a multitude of excuses as to why that is the case, from their work not being finished, not “right”, them not being ready, it’s not the “right time”...the list goes on. The “closet artist” spends time doing amazing work, but would rather create excuses than reveal themself. The world is a lesser place for it.

Another aspect to the addiction is it’s affect on daily life. It feels wrong to be obsessed in the real world, and the swings from obsessive artistry to excuses and downers can make it somewhat difficult for relationships. It’s rare for me to meet a truly happy couple where only one is creative, because unless you share the same addiction, you simply struggle to understand. You seem to be living with a person who goes from one madness to the next, and find it difficult to cope with the extremes of highs and lows which come with no warning or logic. You have no way to prepare yourself for what will happen next, and at times it must feel like you want to burst. The partner of an artist can feel helpless in being able to support them emotionally, physically and spiritually. This can often result in a relationship breakdown, or the artist withdrawing into themselves and attempting to curb their creativity in a bid to save their relationship. For those creative/non-creative couples who HAVE found a way to make their relationship flourish deserve a round of applause with a standing ovation at the very least.

To summarise this ( and i will go into a little more detail at another time), i’d like to add that it’s important for an artist to explore their own addiction. Firstly i must stress that it is not BAD, WRONG, or TERRIBLE. You’re addicted to breathing, aren’t you? Well, put it in the same basket as that. You need to create to keep your brain and heart alive, no matter what you hear from those on the other side. But being able to identify and embrace your own ebb and flow, not only of your work, but also of your non-work, can help you and those around you come to an understanding of the complexities of creative addiction. Each one is unique, and each with their own needs.

Oh, and remember to smile...

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