myths about creativity

On to question of the week #7 for the DIY Street Team. Here it is, from Gabriela Pareira:

Which creative myth resonates most with you?

In chapter 6 of DIY MFA, I debunk five myths about creativity. These myths are:

• Creativity is an exclusive club, and you can’t be part of it.
• Creativity is innate–you either have it or you don’t.
• Creativity is driven by chaos, so there’s no way to control it.
• Creativity is all about getting that one “Big Idea.”
• Creativity is focusing on an idea until it’s perfect.

Gabriela asks us to choose a myth that we cleave to and then discuss how we’ve challenged that myth.

I think I’m most susceptible to the first three. But I have another: a real artist, a true creator is slightly insane. Or a lot insane. The art, the creative urges take over, and we lose ourselves. (This idea hangs out with creativity myth number three above.)

Well, duh. That’s part of the allure. The creative process allows us to be more than who we are–and just who we are. We tap into some kind of cosmic yumminess. But for some reason, I have too many models that indicate powerful art necessitates losing one’s mind. Or committing suicide.

There’s another prong to this forked-up vision of art: a great artist needs drugs or alcohol to practice art fully. I know this is not true. I write much better sober. But there’s something demoniacally Delphic about all this linking of creativity and madness, creativity and addiction.

Maybe the best piece I know about this topic–at least from the side of addiction–is James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues.” If you haven’t read this piece, please. Do.

I have challenged the creativity myth about needing to be on alcohol or drugs in order to create brilliantly by being in recovery and practicing this craft. I like writing sober. A lot. I have not yet learned how to challenge the creativity myth about art and losing one’s mind. Any thoughts?

If you want to read more of Gabriela’s ideas, remember that the DIY MFA Book will be out soon!

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