If you are creative, you may feel the pressure to be creative all the time, especially if you make a living through your creativity. This week, I'm going to be sharing all about how mental illness influences creativity, the cycle of creativity, and then I'll be doing a Live Masterclass to follow up with this on July 25th! The class is for anyone who wants to learn about how to Continue Creating When You Don't Feel Creative and the best part? It's only $5...so for less than your cup of coffee, you can learn new skills to implement into your life!
First things first, I want to share how creativity works and how mental health influences it.
How Mental Health Influences Creativity
If you are creative, you are unique and your brain processes things in a different way often times. Know that being creative isn't just about the end product or coming up with new ideas. There is a whole cycle of creativity I want to share with you, which can be impacted by many things, including mental illness. Depending on whether you struggle with a diagnosable mental illness, your creativity may fluctuate even more than the average person. Depression and anxiety are triggers of creativity, or the lack of it. This is particularly true for people with Bipolar Disorder, who often go through longer periods of mania (which can result in coming up with many ideas, creating intensely) and is then followed by longer periods of depression (which can result in struggling to function, let alone being creative).
First things first though, know that you cannot be expected to have endless amounts of creativity at all times. At some point, you will be totally drained and uninspired creatively, no matter how talented you are and regardless of whether or not you have a diagnosed mental illness.
Here's Why...Creativity (like most everything else) is cyclical
What exactly does the cycle look like?
High Energy- Let’s Create! This is where you get inspired and have your "lightbulb" moments
Moving Along- You begin working on the project, hammering out details, working through logistics, and implementing your ideas
Slowing Down- You may hit a block or wall, your creative energy decrease, think of this like a "writer's block" moment
Now we get to the point where we have a choice. When you start to feel like you are slowing down, there are two options and the decision is yours to make each time you begin to feel fatigue.
Either you rest or you burnout.
Rest- Rest can come because you choose it intentionally and it’s planned. It gives you time to do something you enjoy, like reading, watching your favorite show, or logging offline for a few days. It can be strategic so that you schedule time to decompress after a launch or big event.
Burnout-burnout is different in that you don’t make time for rest and eventually your body crashes, whether this is physically, emotionally, mentally, or a combination of the three. Burnout usually lasts longer and can leave you feeling disoriented and less in control of the situation.
Ramping Back Up- After a period of rest, which looks different for everyone, you are them able to create again!
So to recap, this cycle is fueled by periods of excitement, execution, exhaustion, and then rest or burnout.
If you've ever felt like your brain is fried after a long day, you aren't so far off. According to research done by Dr. Scott Kaufman, highly creative people use two parts of the brain, one responsible for imagination and another for attention and memory, at the same time. You may have thought (I know I did) that creativity was a "right brained" thing, but it actually uses the entire brain. In 2001, neurologist Marcus Raichle discovered the "imagination network" which covers surfaces of the frontal, parietal, and temporal lobes and is important for creativity.
Knowing this information, you can see that it's impossible to always have creative days and weeks. Creativity is a process of constantly taking in new information, and reworking it in a different way! That can be exhausting to do and you are likely someone who does it all the time, without even thinking about it. I want to leave you with this reminder: even when being creative is how you keep the lights on, it's okay (and dare I say expected) to have periods where you can’t create!
In the $5 Masterclass in collaboration with Allyn Lewis, I'll be sharing practical ways to spark creativity and how to continue creating when you don't feel creative.
Be sure to join the FREE Facebook Community and continue the discussion there! What other struggles are you currently battling with as you navigate your small business journey? I would love to help! Feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions you may have or topics you would like to see covered in future posts.