Friday, April 15, 2016

Inside the Creative's Mind: 9 Things You Should Know

I just finished watching a TV show: Your Lie in April. It is one of the most beautiful visual stories I have ever encountered. What is it? Well, it’s anime. Hey, don’t roll your eyes! Anime can be meaningful. This one is. It's about a young pianist and his struggle to overcome his fears and play music in a way that lets his thoughts and emotions reach others.

As I watched this character work through his creative process, I was completely blown away. I’m not a musician, not by a long shot, but my struggles and triumphs as a writer were very similar to his as a pianist.

That’s when it struck me: Creatives must all have minds that work in similar ways. Not identical. Never identical. Just similar enough so that we all have common ground in our heads.

What kind of a mind does it take to have the ability to make others feel something, understand something, through our creativity? A unique one? A crazed on? A brilliant one? What's it like?

Admit it: Creative people are hard to understand. I mean, I'm a creative person and I sometimes don't understand what goes on in my own mind half the time. I know a lot of creatives feel the same way, and I know that a lot of non-creatives have a hard time understanding their creative friends.

So what is it that goes on in the creative's mind? Let me show you:
1. We almost always feel like we're on the brink of something big. We're so close. If we could just get this story just right, we'll reach our potential. Play that song just so and it'll change the way we play music forever. Arrange our feelings on the canvas in a certain way and the whole world will see what we want them to see. We're always so. close. But we never quite reach it. And, even if we do, we soon find ourselves standing on another brink. Our work is never done and sometimes that fact hurts. But we keep going because we know the further we get the more we understand and maybe, just maybe, we'll reach the peak some day.

2. We're scared to death that we'll fail.
Not necessarily because of what others will think, but because of what we will think. We understand - or think we understand - our own potential, so falling short of that makes us feel like the sorriest piece of skin and bones that ever walked the face of the earth. Because of this, we push ourselves and push ourselves because gosh darnit, we will not fail. Sometimes that nagging voice in our head tells us that we should just quit while we're ahead. Stop creating now before we make a mess of things. But we can't because...

3. Ignoring our creativity is impossible. No matter how hard we try, we will always be writers, artists, musicians. When we're not engaging our creativity, we're thinking about it. Sometimes, when that fear I just talked about starts eating at us, we try to leave everything behind because we think that might make us feel better. But it doesn't, because our creativity is part of us and, at the end of the day, we always find ourselves drawn back to it.

4. We're always dreaming.
We dream about where our creativity might take us some day. Will we become professionals in our field? Will we make it big? We can imagine it. And, sometimes, we believe that it will come true. After all, we give imagination life all of the time through our writing and music and artwork. So we think that if we can dream it, we should be able to make it happen. It'll take time and work and, sure, it might not happen. And that'll hurt. But not trying would be even worse, right? So we dream on and keep hoping that that dream will take form.

5. Our minds don't make complete sense, even to us.
Sometimes our thoughts are fairly normal: Family, work, school, what we want to eat for lunch. Just your general, run-of-the-mill stuff. But other times it's like Wonderland up there. We're out for a walk, thinking about nothing in particular, and then something catches our eye, inspires us, and our mind bursts with pictures and words and sounds. It can spiral out of control quickly. Sometimes that takes us to depressing, dark places. Other times it lets us tread among the stars. It's miserable and magical, oh yeah....Wait. Woah. Did I just quote Taylor Swift? We will never speak of this again. EVER.

6. We never know quite how we feel about our own work.
On one hand: Pride in our success. On the other: painful, agonizing loathing. Creatives are rarely able to see their own work clearly. Take writers, for example:
7. Our ability to see things differently can make us feel lonely. We observe closely, listen carefully, seek out new experiences, and rehash old ones. We feel things that most people don't: We feel colors, taste emotions, touch sounds. It's beautiful and heartrending and we want to share it with people, but usually can only do so through our artwork because we suck at talking and assume that people won't understand us anyway. We often get the absurd idea that we are the only people who look at the world the way we do, and that makes us a sad. Because of this...

8. We hope to reach others through our creativity. Why do you suppose we pour out our hearts for all to see? Because we want to share our world, our hopes and fears and joys and loves with others. This was one of the things that stood out to me in Your Lie in April: Each time the characters sat down at the piano or picked up the violin, they had a single thought: Will it reach them? This is something I wonder every time I sit down to write: Will it reach them? Will people see what I'm trying to help them see? I hope so.

9. We love every inch of this crazy journey. While there are parts of being creative that scares the heck out of us and makes us wish we never started, we're always proud to travel this path. It's who we are and what we do and we don't really want that to change. That's why we keep coming back after a failure, or keep pushing deeper even when we think we've gone as far as we can go. We love this absurdly twisted and colorful path and can't wait to see where it leads.

Maybe there's far more to a creative's mind than that. Or maybe there's far less. But, when I think about writing or come across people with different creative talents, those are the traits that I see most often.

What about you? Do you identify with any of the above? What are some things you think people should know about the creative person's mind?

Also, I don't usually recommend TV shows on here, but I'm going to today: Do yourself a favor at watch Your Lie In April. It's on Netflix and everything about it is gorgeous: The animation, the music, the symbolism, the characters, the themes, the quirkiness. It's a new favorite of mine, in case you couldn't tell. Have you ever seen it? Leave your thoughts below! If not, go watch it and then come sit with me in glossy-eyed admiration.

Related articles:
10 Reasons Why Writers Aren't the Weird Ones
10 Things Nobody Tells You About Being a Writer (Until It's Too Late)
5 Steps to Fighting Off Writer's Insecurity

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  1. These are all so true!! Some times I'll write things on my hand with a pen so I don't forget it. I guess that shows how dedicated us writers are. XD I normally have a piece of paper with me, though ;)

    1. Lol! That is a brilliant idea. I'll have to remember that one. =)

  2. Your Lie In April was actually one of the first anime I tried. I didn't finish, though. It wasn't quite my style.

    All tis is so true! I'm always wondering if people will identify with the theme I'm writing on. Probably the main reason I create is because I hope that one day, at least to one person, I'll write something that really impacts them in a meaningful way. Oh, and my head is an animal! (Ha, Of Mosters and Men quote to counter Taylor Swift. ;) ) It's hard to me to slow down up there. And yeah, I'm always feeling on the brink but never... quite there. It's a gift and curse. :)

    Thanks for the post! I need to give it to some people so they can understand me better. ;)

    1. Yeah, it's a very tame anime. I've been watching Attack on Titan (per your recommendation). They're polar opposites, but I like them both. =)
      So glad you enjoyed the post! Love you Of Monsters and Men quote. =)

    2. It's great you like AoT! I liked it as well, especially the fights, though Levi was annoying (it seems as if I always end up disliking the fandom's favorite). Recently, I've found a quite similar anime, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, by the same director. It's ongoing, and so far seems basically Attack on Titan + steampunk + samurai honor code and other Tokugawa period stuff + seriously high budget.

      My other love this season has been My Hero Academia, a story about a boy who wants to be a superhero, in a world of superpowers, despite not having any himself. The boy's attitude convinces a legendary superhero to help him with his dream, and later the boy passes trial exams and begins attending the titular Hero Academia, Yuuei. Basically, a distinctly fresh and Japanese take on superheroes.

      And yes, I can warmly recommend both of these anime. Judging by the initial few episodes they're off to a good start.

      Gotta check out Your Lie In April now, though I doubt if it's on Netflix here. And if you like to Netflix anime and happen to be in the States, I think Yuki Yuna is a Hero is up there. It has good characters, heartwrenching moments, beautiful fight scenes and the CGI used supports traditional animation very well. So recommending that as well.

    3. Yeah, I'm still on the fence about Levi. =)
      All of those anime sound awesome! I'm off to see if I can get my hands on them. Thanks for all the recommendations! I feel like I'm in nerd heaven with all these new shows to look forward to. =)

  3. 2-4 definitely describe me! I loved this post :)

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

    1. Awesome that it resonated with you, Ellie! Thanks for the comment.

  4. I recognize myself in these points, lol. I would add the depression - so easy to sink into it when disaster strikes (by which I mean, of course, writer's block). Ah, well, nobody's perfect, anyway... Lovely, Hannah, really well done.

    1. Yes, it seems like depression comes with the territory. I guess it's because we have things we need to say and then hit points (writers block) where we aren't able to say it and then feel unfulfilled/guilty? I don't know. I'm still trying to figure that one out. =) Glad you enjoyed the post, Ramona!

  5. I think all artists are storytellers. Whether we write the stories down, or act them out, or sing them, or dance them, or paint pictures of them, in the end it's all about telling a story. The story of how wonderful and painful and rewarding it is to be alive and part of this amazing, complicated world.

    1. Same here. I think people have a need to tell stories (and be told stories), even if said storytelling isn't in the traditional mode of speaking or writing. It's cool to come across somebody who feels the same way. Thanks for the comment!

  6. This is all so accurate, and YES I identify with this. #7 is so spot-on. Well, all of this is. I think that's a good reminder, though, for creatives... we often need to be reminded that while we may feel isolated from society, so do all the other creatives!! xD And it's a HUGE world. There are so many other creative people like us, too. We just have to find them. Connecting with others like us can do wonders for our morale. ^_^

  7. Every single day I plan to quit, but I can´t, there´s something that keeps me going and I just don´t know what it is...(by the way, great article)

  8. Thank u so much for having such a nice and entertaing stuff for us. I really enjoy your blog and the way you have describe your content.I also have some amazing and wonderful stuff and i wana to share it with you.
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  9. I completely agree with the "We can't ignore our creativity" thing. Sometimes, i'll be reading then i'll get an idea, leave the book and just start walking everywhere, thinking and smiling (according to my sibling). Whenever you're bored though, creativity can be very nice. Like, filling up my time trying to make up a colour that doesn't already exist (I have yet to come up with one). And, that Taylor Swift thing was hilarious!


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