Sometimes it happens. No new ideas. You just feel flattened…. squeezed empty. No excitement around sitting down at your desk and seeing what’s waiting to pour out of your fingertips.
We’ve all felt that way. And will feel that way again. It’s hard to know when to try to create the space that will let the ideas flow. When to do the writer’s work that requires a different part of the brain. The rewriting. The PR. The Everything Else.
There is a fascinating new book out, Imagine: How Creativity Works by Johan Lehrer. He covers a lot of territory, including what conditions may help increase creativity. One aspect of the book that really fascinated me was the link between depression and creativity. “People who are successful creators — especially writers — ” said Lehrer in an interview on NPR, “are anywhere between 8 and 40 times more likely to suffer from bipolar depression than the general public.”
Wow. I’ve always known that creative people had brains wired differently — after all, I grew up in a family of photographers who mixed with painters, furniture makers, musicians, and an array of San Francisco bohemians. They were different. More exciting. More likely to be enthusiastic one day, down in the dumps another. But us writers… 8 to 40 times?
Could it be that when we feel flattened out, we just need to wait for our brains to cycle back to some mysterious sort of manic state? That it mostly depends on catching the rhythm of creativity that we are hard-wired for?