I just watched a wonderful video of Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love. Her talk about the nature of creativity, and the struggle of creative people, is incredibly moving.
Something that resonated strongly with me is her remark about the continual “fear-based reactions” of people when she declared, as a teenager, that she wanted to be a writer. She also recounts that they still continue to worry her mental health, which is something unique to the creative profession. We seem to accept that creativity and anguish are inherently linked, but Elizabeth thinks that’s an “odious” assumption.
I don’t write like Elizabeth, but I do sometimes question my sanity for being a writer, even a business writer–usually right at a deadline. It’s still creative work and sometimes scary, and it still requires me to dig deeply inside myself for inspiration. But it’s never driven me insane, at least not permanently…
Inspiration. It’s different for everyone.
Elizabeth explores some of the ways that inspiration or the “muse” has been viewed throughout history. She brings up some surprising insights about sources of creativity, and does so with a lot of humor. My own inspiration for writing comes from imagining people in trouble. That’s easy to do when I work for nonprofits, but I’m sure it’s harder for you to understand how I do that in a business context.
You see, every product or service I’m selling solves a problem for real people—people whose jobs or lives, or both, are harder because they don’t have this thing. I think long and hard about their problems and fears. I imagine them on the other side of their issues—with businesses that are more productive and profitable, and feeling personally better appreciated and maybe even happier. That makes me feel good, and feeling good about the potential results of my work is what gets my creative juices flowing.
If that sounds corny, fine. But it works.
At the end of Elizabeth’s video, I actually felt calmer and more hopeful about the creative tasks on my agenda this week. That’s the very definition of an excellent talk. See what you think.
If you’d like to share, tell us where you find your inspiration and unleash your own creativity.