Creative Minds are Different
One thing I’ve learned as a life coach and career coach (as well as a creative person) is that creative pepole have a unique set of opportunities and challenges. What does it feel like to be an artist? What is the difference between a person that looks at a pile of scrap metal and sees an intricate statue, replicating Buddha, and a person that just sees a bunch of junk? What about those of us that hear nothing in the silence of the night, and those that make out faint sounds of instruments until they have composed an entire symphony in their minds?
Neurologically, there are differences in the “creative brain.” Different areas of the brain are accessed when examining the world, based on whether or not you are a more creative personality. All people use these parts of the brain, when necessary, but creative individuals tend to access these parts more often. Creatives literally see the world through a different lens… and this creates differences in their work, and their lives. Could you imagine Jimi Hendrix doing your taxes? Maybe not, but your tax guy is most likely not pulling off a swallowable rendition of “Hey Joe” or “Foxy Lady” either. Each has their gifts.
Creatives Need to Look Inward, in an External World
However, the creative faction amongst us can sometimes have a difficult task of living in this world, because their thoughts and perspectives need freedom to float around it. Creative people often get great satisfaction from tapping into the unexpressed areas of the soul, in efforts to extract subconscious beauty and original creations. But that can often leave them longing for that same type of connection and purpose in a society that emphasizes external focus, conscious thought and being guarded as opposed to open. While much of today’s art, in any form, is influenced by life and all things within, the ability to artistically express oneself is not something that is derived of this physical place. It’s an internal experience. Many times, the more strongly artists feel connected to their own creative process, they feel more disconnected from the larger world.
The Struggle Between Creativity and “Responsibility”
This is even more so the case in today’s age, where many of us spend the vast majority of our time and energy given to something outside of ourselves. This struggle between having the time and space for creative expression and the demands of day-to-day life is what often weighs on the minds of many creative artists. Our passions can so easily be traded for security, and our fears are triggered by the word RESPONSIBILITY. This is especially true for creatives in relationships. How could you possibly put your dreams and passions first, when you have a family to care for? Who is going to pay the bills while you set out searching for inspiration for your next book, or album?
Disconnection From Your “Creative Self” Can Be Damaging
Not only can emotions derived from these questions be creatively stifling, but they can also contribute to a myriad of negative emotions, and a general sense of feeling STUCK. Some artists wind up abandoning their creative dreams in favor of living the way “they should” according to the dictates of society. Not living a creatively authentic of a life is possible, but it often leads to depression and anxiety.
How To Balance Work and Art
Here are some tips to help you create a healthy balance, when you’re a creative person living in a reality-based world.
Honesty: The best way to combat the inner turmoil between your need for creative freedom and the day-to-day realities of life, is by staying honest with oneself when it comes to who you are, and what you want. We all have the right to have EVERYTHING we want, as long as we are willing to work for it. Not society, family, nor SELF should keep us from being who we were truly meant to be. Recognizing and embracing your differences, as a creative person, is the first step in creating a balanced life.
Validation: Another crucial part of this honesty is a commitment to NOT SHAMING yourself for desiring something that might not seem commonsensical. This is important, as it will make it easier to continue to listen to your inner dialogue. It is hard to sit with your authentic feelings and thoughts, if you are beating yourself up over even having them. Allow yourself to think, and feel your truth, without that defining who you have to be.
Prioritization: Being honest with yourself, and giving yourself permission to be creative, will then allow you to make space for creative expression in your life. Start by asking yourself where and how you can make space for your creative process? Next, consider how can you prioritize that, while also fitting day-to-day responsibilities around your most important work? The key here is balance: If you deny and suppress your creativity, it will harm you emotionally (and existentially). And, if you only follow pure creativity there can be other consequences, to both your relationships, and your material security.
You deserve the best of both worlds: The fulfillment of creative expression, and also a stable life.
If you are a creative artist struggling with how to balance work and art, or are having trouble with creative inspiration, you may find that coaching and/or therapy can be a beneficial way to improve the way you work on art, as well as how you walk through life.
Zachary Gaiter, M.A., LPCC