Curse of the Creative Mind


I’m convinced that if I could sustain my mental and physical energy, I’d work myself to death. Maybe it was God’s kindness, that I have creative bursts rather than constant creativity, because my endeavors generally involve a great deal of energy, in tenacious and frenzied amounts (I once outworked two men in my neighborhood, designing and installing my new landscaping. Unbeknownst to me, they were trying to keep up by tidying up their own yards, but eventually they sat down and remarked how “crazy” I was, while I continued to work, and they drank beer from their lawn chairs). It makes me feel like one of those sparklers that you give kids on the 4th of July.

I like the way this blogger put it:

You might be thinking that I’m suffering from manic episodes or that I’m in some way mentally ill, but I’ve been checked repeatedly by mental health professionals, and while they say I exhibit some manic tendencies, they almost all agree that this is just part of my personality and how I get things done. My brain is simply like a sleeping volcano. Everything I need is in there, but I have to wait for the eruption in order to make use of it.


It’s true, and while I await that next eruption, I look around at all the unfinished projects that I started, the last time my “sleeping volcano” awoke. That’s when boredom, and the perfectionist part of me kicks in, followed by the self-loathing and negative self-talk. I try to remind myself that I have two choices:

1) Ignore the volcano that erupts next time and concentrate my energy on finishing projects

– or –

2) Make time to complete unfinished projects and learn to live with the unfinished ones, while I follow that next volcanic dream.

Every creative knows which one on the list it’s going to be, because creatives can’t ignore their volcanos. I’ve tried. I’ve promised myself I won’t do it. I tell myself that I SHOULD not do it.

“Do NOT start another project.”

“Okay, I will NOT start another project. I will concentrate all my energy on completing, (or even better) perfecting my last project.”

Then, I get up the next day or the next week, and there it is; a new idea for that perfect ‘whatever’, and nothing will stop me. I have a vision and suddenly, the energy to start it (let’s be fair, I finish a lot of things, just not everything). I become singularly focused. I need less sleep. I need less food. Everything is directed toward this new creative endeavor. And when it comes to fruition, and when it goes beyond what I even imagined and has that  “wow” factor, it’s like crack for the creative mind. It’s beyond satisfying. It’s beyond scratching that itch. It’s all the things the Thesaurus says for ‘satisfying’. It’s

  • delightful
  • enjoyable
  • gratifying
  • pleasant
  • pleasing
  • pleasurable
  • refreshing
  • rewarding
  • satisfactory
  • sweet
  • satiating
  • hitting the spot

What do I have to show for housing this creative brain in this head? It’s not money, in a commercial sense, except for the properties I’ve renovated.

I have:

  1. Some really good Before and After photos, of a house renovation, that prove what I’ve been up to for the past 40 years.
  2. Over 11,000 digital photos that I’ve taken because so many things look interesting to me.
  3. A craft supply that allows me to draw, paint, or make jewelry any time I want.
  4. Years of writing.
  5. Years of painting things; pick a surface. I’ve probably painted it.
  6. People who call me “creative”. Sometimes it’s a compliment.

I’ve dallied in ink paintings and my son has one hanging in his office, because he loves it, and a local art dealer loved it. That felt good. And I’ve sold some of my photos, and that felt good. And I’ve made some jewelry that my mom wears and her local business people rave about when she comes in, so that felt good. But I didn’t carry out my creativity bursts for any of those reasons. It doesn’t work that way. It’s just something I have to do, and there’s very little thought as to what anybody else thinks about it.

Being creative is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is in being able to see beauty and possibilities in ways that others do not see. The curse is in not always having enough time or energy to actualize everything that I envision. And then there are those moments when I create something that leaves people saying, “what is that?”

Then, there’s the value that society puts on things; in other words, money and praise, but I’ll save that subject for another day and concentrate on being satisfied with what I’ve created so far, balancing that thought in a way that others don’t see it as bragging, and endeavor to complete unfinished projects while I anticipate my next volcanic eruption. You other creatives know….it’s coming.



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