bleeps & bloops

Pressure Kills Creativity
August 1, 2008, 11:41 am
Filed under: Art, Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I drew this little cartoon in my journal this morning to relieve some stress.

I’ve been focusing a lot lately on my hang-ups with creation. Making art and music (well, anything for that matter- be it sewing, crocheting, or any small act of creating something new) makes me feel sane, like I have a purpose, like I am fulfilling my destiny- all that good stuff that keeps a person grounded and feeling connected to existence. So yeah, it’s pretty important to me.

However, I have this way- you could say it’s so perfected and so professional it’s scary- of not creating anything. And then driving myself insane with frustration. Some people deal with sexual frustration. Well, I have that too but more overwhelmingly I deal with artistic frustration that I create for myself! WTF…where do these things come from? I need some Freudian assistance here.

Since Freud isn’t around (and he’d probably just say it had something to do with penises) and I no longer have my co-counseling group I have been trying to sort out this mess on my own. Its hard stuff to try to unlock your own subconscious or at least understand how it ticks. Sort of impossible really- it’s like a mirror trying to look at itself.

I have recently discovered a key to the puzzle- it’s that my own pressure to create kills my creativity. I take this aspect of my life so seriously that I manifest this looming cloud of doom over my head which screams “Create! Or you’re nothing! Your life is passing! Why aren’t you making something? Wrinkles are forming under your eyes as you lay on your bed feeling all this pressure so what are you waiting for?”

What this pressure accomplishes is obsession. It becomes a cruel loop- I feel the need to create and then that need builds into pressure when not acted on instantly. The pressure turns into obsession over my lack of creation and I begin to lose self-esteem which is the death knell of creativity. How can I create when I don’t believe in myself, let alone what I am making? It’s impossible. Everyday that passes just exponentially adds to my obsession with my own inadequacy.

Creating art, while severely suffering from these issues I mentioned above, is nothing compared to the difficulty I face when creating music. Since I have always considered myself an artist I am able to let it flow out when I get rolling on a project and I am able to lose myself in it for days at a time. However with music, the pressure is worse. Throughout my whole life I have played every instrument under the sun but I have always played other people’s music. When it comes to writing my own, I am paralyzed with anxiety and lack of confidence! I have wanted to write music for so many years that by now the pressure looms so heavily that I can barely sit down to play at my keyboards.

Since I got back from Penland School of Crafts, and my big wonderful trip out west/ big vacay from NYC/ big breath of fresh air from everyday-life, I have been trying hard to focus on controlling these destructive tendencies. So far the tactic has been a combination of avoidance of any feelings of pressure (like doing the meditation-type technique of silencing these thoughts) together with creating at the very moment I feel the urge. I noticed that it worked very well over the weekend. Though I didn’t socialize very much I felt perfectly happy and contented- sort of soaring really. I noticed I was telling people how happy I was and that I did feel happier- a rare occurrence for me as of late.

I am attempting to maintain a strong sensitivity to those feelings of pressure. Today I woke up and really felt it (and I drew the above cartoon to relieve some stress) …I think it had built up since I had been unable to work on art because I was at work all week. I feel all the projects waiting. I am going to try very hard to to release some pressure by choosing a project and get moving on it before the obsession rolls around.

I have also noticed how important it is for me to eat well to maintain a mental balance which keeps my anxiety down. I’ve had lots of yummy fruits and veggies around the house lately and I’ve been trying to eat all 3 meals and eat well at each meal. I felt a huge difference in my mental state.

I hope to someday uncover the origin of this pattern. Perhaps one day I’ll discover a co-counseling group here and figure it all out. But until then, the battle continues.

And I leave you with two newly discovered favorite songs by Soft Cell. The first is about one of my most-hated spots on Earth, The Supermarket. And the other is about sitting in your room and, well, existence in general. I love Soft Cell!

Soft Cell – Persuasion(it starts at :30)

Soft Cell – Bedsitter (12″ Extended Mix)