News


Why does popular culture depict creativity as ‘chaotic’?

Sheila Chandra - Thursday, October 19, 2017

We’ve all seem the films and read the novels where the artist genius’ life is chaos. Perhaps they’re tortured by their vision of the world, perhaps they’re emotionally chaotic – but in any depiction where creativity itself is almost a main character, you’re almost sure to find visual and domestic chaos. Why is that?

 

Creativity as ‘chaotic’ is visual shorthand

I mean think about it. If you’re a director, or a photographer, you’ve got a real problem when depicting creativity. It happens in the artist’s head. So how on earth do you show it? How do you show that it’s part of their essence, not just an ‘event’ in their life? (Actually it is just an ‘event’ in their lives but let’s ignore that for a moment…) After all, who among us really understands what is happening when out of a void, comes the idea we’ve been searching for?

Creativity as ‘chaotic’ is convenient

There is no real way of depicting it – particularly to a viewing public who are, unconsciously I think, actually asking about how some people get to be so brilliantly creative while others are not. Ironically, novelists (and therefore screenplay writers and directors) have the answer, but all these categories of people don’t think to apply it to depictions of artistry. Why? Because the answer turns out to be just a little bit boring, and not the conflict-ridden ‘juice’ that their book, screenplay or film requires to make it successful.

Why are some people ‘creative’ and others not?

Well novelists tell us, that ‘character is destiny’. What a character thinks over and over, leads to what s/he does over and over, and those repeated actions, for good or bad, shape their life. Well, being ‘creative’ is just a tolerance for sitting with the ‘blank page’, and focusing the mind on the problem, until an idea comes. And if you do that over and over and over, it becomes ‘who you are’. Similarly, if you regularly potter about in your garden, in a few years, you’re going to be known as a ‘gardener’. And if you put some real effort into it, you’re likely to become a great gardener. Certainly more likely than if what you do is remain in your armchair… Similarly with being a brilliant creator. So, as the old joke says ‘The way to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice…’

So why do even creative people fall for the ‘creativity is chaotic’ myth?

It’s not comfortable sitting with that void. I hate it, to be honest. There’s no guarantee you’re going to come up with anything good. I’ve said that ‘being creative’ is a ‘tolerance’ for sitting with the void for a reason. Most creative people are a bit discomforted by it. And it’s only by building up a ‘tolerance’ for a discomforting experience that they get to earn the title ‘creator’.

Maybe it’s very infiniteness of possibility that’s the intimidating thing. After all, what could come out of our imaginations might not be convenient or good, but nightmarish. Every creator knows that. Maybe what popular culture is depicting in physical chaos around an artist (in novels and on stage and screen) is the fear we feel ourselves about the mystery of the whole process. And who can blame us?

Depicting creativity as ‘chaotic’ isn’t going to help

The problem is, that isn’t going to help young creators who are just finding their feet. It’s convenient enough for popular culture – not to say lazy – but it gives the wrong impression. Mess is not a mark of genius. Mess is not the inevitable result of having a good idea and being driven to realise it. Mess is not even that special. Every toddler creates it!

Let’s stop seeing creativity as ‘chaotic’ please?

Time to stop using this hackneyed old stereotype. Let’s acknowledge that the most successful artists with longevity are generally organized behind the scenes. They wouldn’t get paid properly if they weren’t. (And no, it’s not the resort of terminally ‘uncool’ artists. Have you thought about the kind of logistics Bowie had to have put in place before his death to get the ‘Blackstar’ album ready to roll in the same week?) Let’s divorce the visual shorthand from reality, the way we realise that a bunch of red roses in a film is shorthand for ‘romance’. Let’s give up-and-coming creators better role models to emulate.

If you’d like to know more about how to set up the career infrastructure you’ll need as a professional creator, download a free excerpt of ‘Organizing for Creative People’.


Comments
Post has no comments.
Post a Comment




Captcha Image


×

Recent Posts


Tags

diagnosis creative confidence symptoms of creativity getting ready for work email overload slow and steady peer-to-peer networks clearing in short bursts compulsion inconvenience partners stop hoarding stuff tidier tension buying youth chaotic stardust saving time nascent artists artist mentoring creativity diary sacrifice vulnerability car creative organising productivity bulk buy long-term artistic development tidy people just in case the void fine art working class culture tidy desk good creative habits emotionally secure artist binge jealousy smart artists creative career coaching tortoise and hare focus wardrobe stop cluttering well curated closet visualising business boredom writing funding campaigns trope green room low maintenance strategies low maintenance display items nipping things in the bud innocence why organise business interface to creative businesses creative people email bankruptcy feeling creative creative magic clearing overwork work efficiently how to save time lazy motivation work priorities being tripped up clear desk buy fewer clothes letting go being organized organise creative ambitions artist goals card stay on top of email great artists good friend dynamic spaces cupboard of shame housework much quicker buying stardust well organized work life emotional resilience business-speak friends creative wellbeing absences professional mentors multiple lifetimes ‘creativity’ touring VIPs collections confident in clothes proposal writing brilliant creator commitment artist materials tidiness in living spaces mess arrogance creativity nurture creativity home organising staying in control morning routines buying hope crowdfunding ‘stories’ about your possessions tips for clearing exhaustion cry creative commissions professional encouragement creative career minimalists temperament career strategy slim-line wardrobe appointments time clutter nurturing creative work creative identity creative person anxiety double standard creative culture precious memories concentrated creative time criteria for letting go of stuff artistic chaos under-confidence control work trips email lifetimes guilty purchases loving your audience culture spree procrastination workspaces quality : clothes effortlessly tidy making decisions artists domestic life tidy peacefulness clearing as you go cleaning organizing for creative people platform artistry buying happiness clutter addict elevator pitch artist mentors disorganization 2018 goals mature artists much better friend copyright stay tidy automatically loss artist workspaces emotional balance hijacking creativity branding new year proposals network celebrity endorsed products work/home life balance clearing clutter networking effectively great art clutter home life goals wind down friendships creative spark too busy networking storage pop music myth parent fall of innocence good art work cleaning your desk hoarding clear outs social media working class artists childhood living mess free magic emotional support funding mornings pop culture how to be naturally tidy missed opportunities hostile clutter vocation grief efficient work patterns theft critical acclaim artistic conviction successful artist brands too many commitments Sheila Chandra author feel like creatiing introverts hobbies professional creative career options subconscious mind diary normality buying wealth living clutter free self promotion clarity of thought sheila chandra coaching imagination static spaces home care business-like streamlining routines organisation hotel room warm down social media networking resentment how to work efficiently inspiration popular culture to do list clean desk artist

Archive

×