Creativity Hallucination and Subsequent Punishment

Some raw unpolished thoughts on the article Secrets of the Creative Brain by Nancy C. Andreasen, subtitled A leading neuroscientist who has spent decades studying creativity shares her research on where genius comes from, whether it is dependent on high IQ—and why it is so often accompanied by mental illness.

Andreasen writes: I’ve been struck by how many of these people refer to their most creative ideas as “obvious.” Since these ideas are almost always the opposite of obvious to other people, creative luminaries can face doubt and resistance when advocating for them.

Powerful realization from that: much of my reality feels like hallucination because I’m the only one who sees it. When you go through life seeing things no one else does, and being mocked or pitied or shunned when you admit it, it’s no wonder we lose our emotional and mental balance.

I’ve never thought of that before. My reality is different from most people’s, and I’ve never internalized the idea that much of what I see as simple, normal, obvious, is invisible to everyone around me. It’s like being the only one to see the strange man in the hallway or whatever; I’m having a hard time verbalizing it. Thinking about the psychotic episodes in TV shows and movies where a character looks crazy to others because they’re hallucinating.

That’s what it’s like: I feel like much of my reality is a hallucination because I’m the only one who sees it. Despite appearances I’m not arrogant enough to have started life thinking I was right and everyone else was wrong, so it must be me, right?

And I still push down my “seeing other ways” because when something is obvious to me but no one else, I still feel wrong because I was always taught I was wrong.

This has implications in my desire and ability to do it all myself, my lifelong habit of ignoring feedback that doesn’t make sense to me, of finally learning to trust my intuition instead of having to prove my instincts to the satisfaction of onlookers.

A Myth and a Puzzlement

I’ve often heard creative folks claim that producing art quickly or in bulk leads to lower quality.

It’s not true.

Creativity is like a muscle. Use it more, make it stronger.

Yes, muscles get tired. When’s the last time you spent so much time in creative pursuits that you were in any danger of creative burnout?

I just spent February writing 25 songs besides working on my novel and writing here and at my personal blog. Being more creative leads to being more creative. I’ll be physically exhausted long before I’m creatively exhausted.

Quality? Sure, some of the songs I wrote aren’t keepers. That’s the nature of the beast: not every song is. But when I write 14 songs in a month, 3 or 4 are excellent. When I write 25 songs in a month, 7 or 8 are excellent. Not only more excellence, but a slightly higher percentage.

I believe that if I wrote 100 songs next February, I’d create 20 or more that were as good as anything I’ve ever written.

Are You Not a Writer?

The first thing writers tell me when I say “blog weekly, two or three times if you can” is “I don’t know what to write about.”

You’re a writer, aren’t you? If the goal is to get people to part with their money for your writing, how about showing them, often, what you’re capable of?

Wrote a nonfiction book? Blog about all the stuff that didn’t make it into the book, about everything you’ve learned since it was finished.

Fiction author? Easy: make up new fiction. No, I didn’t say write a batch of deathless prose every day. Just write.

Blogging regularly is not that hard—you’re a writer.

The 21st Century Creative: a podcast worth making time for

For the 3rd Monday in a row I’m taking more than an hour to listen to a podcast. I generally have little patience for podcasts; most have a very low signal-to-noise ratio. The 21st Century Creative, hosted by Mark McGuinness of Lateral Action, is all signal, no noise.

His first two guests were Scott Belsky of Behance and 99U, and Steven Pressfield, who doesn’t do interviews anymore—except when he does.

Eschewing the rush rush syndrome everyone thinks is appropriate these days, Mark takes his time, 60 to 90 minutes. Each guest ends the show with an artistic challenge; participate and you can win nifty useful books (and, not incidentally, grow artistically and personally.)

Make time for the 21st Century Creative podcast. Your art deserves it.

Let’s Build a House! (Why Planning will Make Your Writing Life Better)

Fair warning: if you are committed to the spontaneous pantsing version of writing, please don’t read this. You won’t benefit, I won’t benefit. If you’re open to having assumptions challenged, read on. To the end. Don’t read the first 80% and quit or you won’t get the point.

What is a House?

Though wildly different around the world, all houses share certain characteristics. Let’s explore the ins and outs.

  1. Roof — Without a covering, it’s a yard, not a house.
  2. Floor — It may be dirt, but it’s not water or air. If your residents are standing in a pool up to their waist, or swinging in hammocks 30′ aboveground, you’ve built something other than a house.
  3. Privacy — Roof but no walls = carport or equivalent.
  4. Toilet — Yes, in some parts of the world this is not inside the house. If you live in one of those places, you may dispute this requirement.
  5. Services — Electricity. Running water. Drains. See above note for quibbles.
  6. Egress — Without a door suitable for us humans to enter through, it’s not a house, it’s something else.
  7. Lighting — Even if it’s windows and skylights, there’s a way for light to come in.

You may dispute any of these if you choose to live in the house yourself.

If you plan to sell the house, or even sell time using the house (called “renting”) I defy you to leave any of these out and still succeed.

build-a-house
… more … “Let’s Build a House! (Why Planning will Make Your Writing Life Better)”

Guest Post at ‘Bane of Your Resistance’

I made a comment at Rosanne Bane’s blog about letting go of what others thought so I could create better art.

She asked if I’d write a post on the concept.

I did, and it’s live over at Bane of Your Resistance.

Does Your Writing Come From You or Through You?

The HillsideI’ll state right up front that while I believe all art is a divine gift I do not believe in a literal Muse who is responsible for my (or your) art.

But sometimes, it certainly feels like what I create is coming, not from me but through me.

In those moments what arrives in my fingers is closer to the truths I feel than when I’m using my head, obviously and overtly making stuff up.

I once spent a week carefully crafting a complex 7-minute long Arabic trance instrumental. It’s all kinds of fun, and the Little One still loves to listen to it.

Most folks pay little or no attention to it. It has no real depth, no emotional tug.

On the other end of the spectrum is my song The Hillside which, once I realize what these three repeating chords meant, these dead simple chords anyone could play, the song flowed in minutes, all but one word which was supplied by Best Beloved. … more … “Does Your Writing Come From You or Through You?”

Art is Love: The More You Give Away the More You Have

bucket at the wellSince I’ve started a daily routine of writing come what may, I’ve noticed something.

The more ideas I spit out, the more I have.

In the past week, I’ve written 1,000 words a day on the sequel to Through the Fog. Another story forced its way into my head, and I’ve managed 1,000 words a day on that one as well.

The past few Februaries I haven’t participated in February Album Writing Month. But this year I’ve had so man song ideas I can’t bottle them up. Four written and recorded with another well on the way. Since I spend the 3rd week of every 3rd month writing 3 songs with my buddy Terry, I’ll be doing that whether I push for 14 songs at FAWM or not.

The well doesn’t run dry, it refills itself. The more art I create, the more wells up to be created.

Hankering for Hunkering

I need to force myself to take some time off.

I am an obsessive person. Choose your personality type terminology: INFJ, 4 with a 5 wing, or Catalyst. That means I only have two settings: off, and AS MUCH AS THERE IS.

I don’t start a book unless I know I can finish it in one sitting.

When my entire music collection was vinyl, I listened to albums all the way through. I never, ever, skipped songs I didn’t like.

… more … “Hankering for Hunkering”

The Timed-Release Capsule and Growth Through Use; or, Where the Ideas Come From

We ask where great ideas and creativity come from, not because the question itself matters, but because we want to go there in order to find more.

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/635810 by OBMonkey http://www.sxc.hu/profile/OBMonkeyReading Steven Pressfield’s take on the question prompted a visceral response with my own beliefs.

We are, in part, Divine, fashioned by a creator to be creators. Thus, creativity is built into us like a time-release capsule.

Except it’s not released by time. You can wait till the cows come home and if you don’t add the activating ingredient to the capsule, it will never release.

… more … “The Timed-Release Capsule and Growth Through Use; or, Where the Ideas Come From”

Standards: Straight Jacket or Guide Posts?

I just read a blog post by an author claiming that Joseph Campbell’s monomyth is overused, and explained how their novel avoided it so as not to sound formulaic.

Except the only difference was, their “hero” wasn’t traditionally heroic. Otherwise, the description was nothing more than an abbreviated version of the same story humans have been telling themselves for millennia.

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/310469 by Andy Barton http://www.sxc.hu/profile/RavenMediaBeing “different” by

  1. calling yourself different
  2. pretending that how the human mind works doesn’t apply to you and/or
  3. being ignorant of how language works (Campbell’s “hero” has nothing to do with heroism)

is loopy, wonky, misguided, and just plain wrong.
… more … “Standards: Straight Jacket or Guide Posts?”