Finding out roughly what kind of person you truly are is the starting point of self-understanding. Many years ago, I discovered that troubled writers are the people who most resemble me – or whom I most resemble. I may also be like other kinds of disturbed people, but they remain largely invisible while published writers leave behind a readable and illuminating record of their emotional and psychological struggles. My discovery, and the fact that I too wrestle with writing books and stories, prompted over two decades of reading literary biographies.
Lowry suffered from acute anxiety and had his most productive periods in a secluded squatters camp in Dollarton, British Columbia. (Photo: public domain)
Creativity involves a thought that goes beyond the generally accepted, provokes anxiety in others and tests the security of one’s own perceptions. – Peter Lomas in Cultivating Intuition
Anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity. – T. S. Eliot
Strong innovation, striking originality, and prolonged gestation periods can all generate feelings of anxiety. (photo: publicdomainpictures.net)
These quotes may explain why so many great creators show signs of psychological stress. Depression is famously common among writers, for example. However, this is not to say that mental disorder is necessary for creativity to flourish.