There are a lot of articles and books and videos and other mediums suggesting that anxiety is linked with creativity.
Like this one from Writer Unboxed
Or the Insecure Writer’s Support Group
Or this video from Ira Glass where he says that most people give up when they feel failure
Or this Brain Pickings post on anxiety and creativity
I already explained how I think my empathy helps my imagination, so now let’s get into how anxiety could enhance creativity. (Which sucks and is awesome at the same time.)
First, let me tell you a bit about my anxiety. It is strongly linked with my diabetes. The first time I had a panic attack I was at a concert without anything to treat my blood sugar. So I thought my blood sugar was low, had an ambulance called, found out I was fine, but from then on I started having serious panic attacks and anxiety. I also had an extreme fear of flying or being in large crowds because I felt stuck and unable to get treatment if my blood sugar went low. It’s all irrational, which I think most fear is.
Since having moved to Europe and traveling a ton (seriously, a lot) I’ve gradually gotten over my fear of planes. I’m still not happy to go on them, but I am now a firm believer in forcing yourself to do what you are afraid of over and over again until you aren’t afraid anymore (a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy).
So, following that idea, I know that my creativity, my writing, is something that I am afraid of failing. I don’t want to be rejected by publishers, I don’t want my critique partners to think something I wrote was stupid, I don’t want to disappoint myself. But the more I write, the better I get, and the more I end up writing because I’m making a habit of it. And I’m also falling in love with it. I can overcome my anxiety about writing by writing.
On the other hand, I think my anxiety is an instigator of creativity. I’ve always said that I don’t know how Stephen King can sleep at night with the ideas he has floating around in his head. Sometimes I can’t sleep. The other night my husband was begging to watch Prometheus and even from the previews I knew I would have nightmares for the rest of my life. (Thank goodness it wasn’t available for rent on iTunes…) I’m not certain my imagination would be as vivid or dark or crazy as it is if I didn’t have this hyperactive nervous system.
So what do you think? Do we have to have anxiety to have creativity?