Life In Limbo: With/Of The Creative Mind


Creativity cannot be forced; it sits dormant waiting for a catalyst, a catalyst that has no definite form.

Creativity is both a gift and a curse for those who possess it.

For the creative, the path of inspiration cuts through their very mind. They are able to meander through their own thoughts, witnessing the most incredible sights and sounds, all heavily laden with emotion. There are potential connections for every possibility and the journey to unite them can be exhilarating and spectacular, a true odyssey of vision and a spectacle of cryptic clarity.

But, more often than not, the adventure begins on the toilet, during your fifth visit in as many minutes, where you have been sat desperately trying to battle a brain that wants to think of anything but a way to begin an 800-word article about creativity.

Every journey must begin with a first step.

It is unfortunate then, that procrastination and invention are abusive bedfellows. I guarantee that Dostoyevsky scrubbed every inch of the bathroom before he penned anything and I’m almost positive Lennon wouldn’t have had a crack at ‘Imagine’ before he’d washed the pots.
Maybe it’s a defence mechanism, designed to protect them from the arduous quest, or perhaps they’re stalling, waiting for the spark. That is the curse of the inspired. Creativity cannot be forced; it sits dormant waiting for a catalyst, a catalyst that has no definite form.
It could truly be anything, as long as it fires the particular synapse that initiates a cascade of ideas.

There’s nothing to say that flash can’t be coaxed into fruition though. Drugs have always played a key role in artistic insight. The freeform, bebop stylings of Charlie Parker were essentially a soundtrack for the junkie generation. The entire jazz scene was heavily opiated from the 50s onwards, with artists such as John Coltrane, Stan Getz and Miles Davis all famously using smack as their muse. The Beatles’ career can barely be separated from recreational drug use and their journey into psychedelics is well documented. The results have spoken for themselves for over 40 years, with many claiming the fruits of their mind expansions to be their best work. Even carrot top rhyme-sayer, Macklemore, had a penchant for cannabis and cough medicine — and they do say Tixylix is the mother of invention.

But, catalyst or no, the most common ailment for the creatively inclined is the dreaded ‘writer’s block’. The moment where no matter how hard you try, or how desperately you want it, ideas refuse to blossom. Trapped in your own empty head, you begin to fret and panic. The anxiety sets in as you begin to wonder if you ever had any true talent in the first place. Those were just flash-in-the-pan ideas that anyone could have had. You can’t be an artist if you’re unable to create art…

Portishead spent eleven years developing their album, ‘Third’. Seventeen years passed before Guns N’ Roses finally finished Chinese Democracy and it took Brian Wilson 40 to make his sixth studio LP, ‘Smile’. It’s always reassuring to know that others are in the same hole-ridden boat as you and that good ideas aren’t as frequent as you’re lead to believe. Creativity and a lack thereof are as fundamental to each other as life is to death. It’s difficult to fully understand that notion until you’re obliged to create something for a purpose other than your own satisfaction.

As the late Douglas Adams famously said: “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” Regiment is what the logical mind craves. The creative mind thrives upon entropy, in creating order from chaos. What it lacks is structure. It’s wobbly and erratic, like the moody teenager of thought processes. It refuses to adhere to time constraints, because why rush?

Those with imagination are never forced for fear they might lose their talent. Deadlines can always be pushed back, budgets can always be increased and dressing rooms can always be filled with more colour-catalogued confectionary. This is why the creative appears aloof; they carry a stigma of brilliance by proxy. Admitting you possess creativity feels akin to narcissism. In the same way that a comedian cannot introduce themselves as such without telling a joke, admitting you are a signed musician leads to a myriad of expectations and you automatically qualify for critique.

The creative leads a bizarrely troubled life, in a perpetual state of limbo. Always trying to piece together something coherent from a dense fog of nonsense. Constantly frustrated by obtrusive mental barriers that prevent them from achieving their potential and seemingly taking an age to conjure what others deem to be a simple idea.

But, I wouldn’t change it for the world.