Creativity: The Work of the Possessed?

I’ve had a month off business as usual with limited screen time. It’s been a time filled with family, holidays, nature and special moments.

Aside from daily journal scribbles I did no other form of writing for an entire month! For the past week I’ve been back in the writing saddle, writing daily. At first nothing wanted to come out. I felt my writing muscles had become weak.

Although it was a lovely rest and special time with special people, when I at last attempted to form some coherent thoughts to write down I noticed my brain felt scrambled. Like it needed a good spring clean.

For the first couple of days either nothing wanted to come out or what did should have stayed where it came from… Most likely the nook in my brain, just like in my house, where collections of miscellaneous items congregate… Do you have one of those?

On about day three I woke up with thoughts buzzing around me. Fantastic! I jumped out of bed to do my normal morning Yoga practice intending to start writing straight after. But I just could not concentrate. My heart was even beating faster than normal.

Eventually I could stand it no longer. I got up and  jotted down all the thoughts in my head. No wordsmithing, just bullet points and words that I knew would trigger my memory later. After that, my mind was at peace and I was able to concentrate on my Yoga practice.

Afterwards, as soon as I started writing, ideas and words streamed out of me. It got me thinking about creativity. What was with the scrambled brain feeling? The difficulty getting started? Was it weakened ‘writing muscles’, lost neural pathways, or was it something else? Something external?

What is that sudden burst of inspiration after a period of difficulty? Where does it come from?

Ruth Stone
Ruth Stone

The poet Ruth Stone said of her poems: “I never felt that I wrote them anyways. I would feel them coming from way off, and then they would come toward me, and if I didn’t catch them they went through me and went on, so I just figured they were part of the universe, and not me.”

I wrote a blog about creative genius a while back. I referred to Elizabeth Gilbert’s (Author of “Eat, Pray, Love”) TED talk on creativity being more of a genie than genius. A sprite of creativity that flutters in. You have to catch it. Otherwise it is lost.

She referred to interviews she’d done with Ruth Stone and Tom Waits. Ruth spoke of sometimes catching the poem by the tail and having to write it down backwards. Tom talked about telling the ‘sprite’ to come back at a more convenient time (if he was driving for example).

Is creativity a genie and are we merely channels?

I agree with this to an extent, but I also think creativity comes from our unique, personal life experiences. And that is what makes for ‘good’ art… Personal self expression from the artist.

BUT, if an idea strikes, and I can feel it as inspiration, I get a flutter in my stomach and a zap of energy in my head… If I don’t write it down… Pft!! It’s gone. So perhaps it is more genie than genius.

What do you think? Does your creativity come of you or through you?

Happy late January to you.

Leonie 🙂


I also published this post here.

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