“One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.” Friedrich Nietzsche
That quote is a perspective many artists and other gifted and talented people with intense and “chaotic” inner lives may appreciate.
But is turmoil necessary for creative expression?
[The image, by the way, is “Bond of Union” by M.C. Escher.]
There seems to be an enduring mythology about creative inspiration and performing as an actor, for example, that it benefits from an “edge” of nervous tension or even anxiety.
Creativity coach and writer Eric Maisel, PhD comments in our interview Ten Zen Seconds (about his book) that this really is a false and distorting idea: “It isn’t at all clear that tension or anxiety is what’s needed for peak performance and lifelong creativity.”
[Continued in my post To create we need high energy – not anxiety.]
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Dara Marks, PhD, a writer and script consultant, comments in her article The Fatal Flaw – The Most Essential Element for Bringing Characters to Life that “heightened dramatic possibilities” of life can be a key element for writers: “For a story to be dramatically interesting and thematically important, the protagonist must be at the point of great internal combustibility, where the conflict in his or her outer life demands inner transformation if survival is to be achieved.”
But as I wrote in an an earlier article, actors, writers and other artists may be emotionally affected by the stories they are creating.
Talking about her work in the film “The Omen” for example, actor Julia Stiles said she “always felt that I was the kind of actor that could put the role away when I go home, and for whatever reason on this film I couldn’t. I really had horrible nightmares while we were shooting – could barely sleep and I was terrified.” [From Creating accesses our emotions – both light and dark.]
The “tormented artist” may be a distorted icon, but still has some validity, and many people with exceptional abilities have used drugs and alcohol as self-medication to ease the pain of various flavors of that torment.
[More in my article Gifted, Talented, Addicted.]
In addition to sensitivity, another aspect of being creative is having a rich imagination. But that can sometimes work against us, as Jurgen Wolff notes in his post Your Two Imaginations:
“As writers (or other creative people), we are probably well-served by being able to imagine what could go wrong. At least in fiction, we’re in the business of making stuff go wrong for our characters. The more the better. In most kinds of creative work, we begin with thinking about problems.
“The difficulty may be turning off this side of our imagination when we go about the business part of our craft. When we think about sending our work out to agents and publishers, or pitching a project to a boss or colleague, we’re equally quick to imagine what could go wrong, and sometimes that inhibits what we do.”
[Jurgen Wolff is author of the book Your Writing Coach.]
There are many approaches and perspectives on “staying calm” that can help – see the page Stress resources : articles/programs/books.
In his post 26 Tips to Stay Calm When Situation Goes Bad, Donald Latumahina talks about situations that disrupt us so we “tend to become confused, panic or even heated by anger…. How do you calm your nerves while the world around you is falling down? I believe there are some simple things you can do.” He goes on to summarize a number of approaches that could help with both external and internal challenges.
Another approach to calming is explained in Eric Maisel’s book Ten Zen Seconds, which relates to various forms of meditation.
The Spirituality Applied to Life – Balanced Life Center blog has a number of posts which explain the benefits, such as: Meditation Q&A: What is Meditation?
Also see the page: Meditation.
Selected anxiety products, anxiety relief programs, anxiety relief products:
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The Nietzsche quote is from the page: Dysfunction / disorder – which has many others.
According to some writers, the concept of ‘chaos’ that German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) was using (in his novel Thus Spoke Zarathustra) is not the meaning of ‘disorder’ we use currently.
Writer Babette E. Babich comments, “Nietzsche’s creative and fundamental account of chaos in both its cosmic, universal as well as its humane context, recalls the ancient Greek meaning of chaos rather than its modern, disordered, decadent significance. In this generatively primordial sense, chaos corresponds not to the watery nothingness of Semitic myth or modern, scientific entropy but creative, uncountenancedly abundant potency.”
The unidentified writer of the blog “The [Ever]Active Intellect” has some interesting comments:
“Nietzsche identifies chaos as ‘the creative potential within culture…the will to power…the fundamental essence of the world.’ Consider today’s definition of ‘chaos’. Immediately upon hearing the word, most would envision a mess – complete and total confusion or a total lack of any organization. This creative force, that previously referred to the infinity of space before anything else existed, now has a negative connotation. As Zarathustra said, this chaos is an endangered human trait and it is imperative that it is realized within each of us before it is too late.”