Bob Baker's Artist Empowerment Blog

Tall, Dark and Brooding: Do You Have to Be Depressed to Be Creative?

There's a notion that the most influential artists, writers and musicians are often plagued with depression, moodiness and other battles with internal demons. Some people (many of them artists themselves) think that this mental friction actually fuels their creativity.

Well, according to a researcher quoted in the December 2004 issue of Fast Company magazine, that may not be true. In Bill Breen's article, The 6 Myths of Creativity, he interviews Teresa Amabile of Harvard Business School. Over an eight-year period, Amabile and her team collected thousands of journal entries from hundreds of people working on creative projects in seven companies in the consumer products, high-tech and chemical industries.

Sure, this research isn't focused on the fine artists, music makers, aspiring writers, etc., who read this blog. But I think it's revealing and applies to creative people in all fields. Here's a quote from the article:
"We found that creativity is positively associated with joy and love and negatively associated with anger, fear, and anxiety. The entries show that people are happiest when they come up with a creative idea, but they're more likely to have a breakthrough if they were happy the day before. There's a kind of virtuous cycle. When people are excited about their work, there's a better chance that they'll make a cognitive association that incubates overnight and shows up as a creative idea the next day. One day's happiness often predicts the next day's creativity."
Perhaps the best way to unleash your creativity is ... don't worry, be happy :-)


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