Disclaimer: This post briefly talks about suicide and is focused on depression.
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Marilyn Monroe, Chester Bennington, Ernest Hemingway, and Robin Williams. What do these four people, amongst many others, have in common? These are four great creators that committed suicide at the hands of their own tortured genius.
Two reasons this occurs is because pain happens to be the easiest thing that people can relate to and because of lack of confidence in their work.
Great work comes from pain and I have personally experienced this. I always write my best when I am in a dark place because it is emotion fueled. When I was twelve years old and knew nothing about emotional abuse in relationships, I wrote this poem…
I wrote this at 12 years old after an argument with a boy that upset me so this poem poured out of me. When I showed it to my teacher she just bawled her eyes out (and edited it a bit for me) because she couldn’t grasp why I could understand emotional abuse at such a young age.
So, not only are we fueled and greatly inspired by pain, but we are humans with our own worries of success and failing in life.
A few days ago, as I was scrolling through the endlessness that is the internet, I came across a TED talk by ‘Eat, Pray, Love” Author, Elizabeth Gilbert. Essentially, she talked about the mental health of creators, but especially writers.
So as a creator, how many times have you had somebody question your drive to be a creator, whether it be a writer, artist, musician, actor, or dancer – anybody in the fine arts. People often question you, your drive, your ability or much more your worth to the world. What could you possibly bring to the world that benefits people? How could you make a living doing this?
How does this lead to depression?
We already covered reason one being that pain helps some stay motivated and fueled. The second reason is questioning our abilities as an artist. We have seen the narratives in movies and books, the son wants to be a dancer and the dad wants him to be a lawyer. The “it isn’t my dream, it’s your dream” cliché. How can we possibly be happy when everyone doubts us and eventually causes us to doubt ourselves?
Artists, of any sort want to be acknowledged; their work to be appreciated; for them to be noticed. Who does not want to be an accomplished artist? So, our first worry is making it big, but competition lives everywhere, because our lives are everywhere. In today’s day and age, we rely on social media to interact with our readers and to keep us engaged in our community.
Personally, I battle with depression and I just started with my blog. I often worry “Will I ever get there? And will I be able to keep up the success of it if it ever does come?” Which is what I can only imagine many other creators think of their work. Our work is how we peak, and our downfall. How can we live up to our greatest success?
How can we prevent this in Writers?
First, we need to acknowledge that we are not our pain or our work. I use my work to let out my feeling of depression and pain and use it as my release. For instance, let us just say that, my poem above is the best I will ever write. I should not try to chase or recreate that pain, in the name of art. Which brings me to my second point.
In the Ted Talk, Gilbert explains that the ancient Greek and Romans believed in a divine entity called a Genius. This genius was blessed upon the writers which were vessels that ideas passed through. Because, let us be honest, continuing and trying to keep up to spout out “better” work is too much pressure. But by attributing their work to something they could not control; they took that pressure off their shoulders.
Now, I am not saying that whatever you create is not your work, but do not blame yourself if it does not turn out phenomenal. And again, do not try to recreate pain that is not there. This is merely a suggestion.
My overall suggestion and deeply inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert, is to just show up to work and do your job. Creativity finds the working people because it is out there looking for a vessel to use. Be your most authentic self and get to work ladies and gentlemen. Get ready for the creative genius to find you.
Are you depressed?
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