Your elusive creative genius | Elizabeth Gilbert - Deepstash
7 Days of Inspiration

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7 Days of Inspiration

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The impossible things we expect from creative geniuses

The impossible things we expect from creative geniuses

Creative people across all genres have this reputation for being mentally unstable and undone by their gifts. Not knowing if you can top your great success is one of the most painful reconciliations in a creative life.

Once artists produce a magnificent work, they are asked, "What if you'll never ascend to that height again? Then what will you do with the rest of your life?"


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Managing the inherent emotional risks of creativity

In ancient Greece and Rome, people did not believe that creativity came from human beings. It was believed to be a divine attendant spirit that came to humans.

  • The Greeks called these attendant spirits of creativity "daemons."
  • The Romans called it a genius. Romans believed a genius was like a magical entity that lived in the walls of an artist's studio and invisibly helped the artist.

This understanding helped the ancient artist protect himself from certain things, such as too much narcissism. If your work was brilliant (or terrible), you couldn't take all the credit for it.


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Believing creativity came from the self

Believing creativity came from the self

During the Renaissance, the individual was placed at the centre of the universe. People started to believe that creativity came only from the self, not from mystical creatures that took dictation from the divine. It is the first time in history that people refer to certain artists as a genius, rather than having a genius.

Allowing someone to believe that they are the source of all divine, creative, eternal mystery is too much responsibility to put on one fragile human psyche. It's like asking somebody to swallow the sun. It creates unmanageable expectations about performance.


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Removing the pressure to outperform

Removing the pressure to outperform

The pressure of unmanageable expectations about performance is destroying artists.

As an artist, you may be full of anguish if believe that the most extraordinary aspects of your being came from you. But if you believe that a genius was on loan to you from another unimaginable source for some portion of your life to be passed along when you're finished,  it changes how you feel. 

When you create, don't be daunted. Just do your job. Continue to show up for your piece of it and use the creative moment when it comes to you. Otherwise, keep on showing up.


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