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Author Topic: Feeling Sad Makes Us More Creative
rich
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Obviously feel free to move if this isn't the appropriate spot for this one, but does seem to be an interesting study that seems to verify a cliche.

Having said that, I'm not entirely sold on the particular study itself, but it's somewhat ingenious with its method.

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/10/feeling-sad-makes-us-more-creative/


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Eh! Feeling sad make me want to take a nap.

Edited to add:

or eat a lot of dark chocolate.

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited October 22, 2010).]


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coralm
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I'm with Kathleen on this one. When I feel sad I don't want to get out of bed (unless there is chocolate somewhere). I want to write when I feel energetic and good about myself. I find the same thing with drawing as well. I know the cliche is the tortured artist but I just don't find it to be true for me.

It's an interesting study though. The idea of an artist imposing his or her own negative feedback loop just to increase creativity is a bit frightening.


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posulliv
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I can't decide if this article makes me depressed or encouraged. Probably both, so I guess that's a good thing.
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Robert Nowall
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Usually when I'm down---more and more my usual state---it's a chore to write anything. If I'm really brought down---say, by having to fight to avoid being fired, which has happened several times in my life---I'm often, for a length of time, too down to write anything (unless it's related to my problem, like a legal brief or statement).

I can't say being happy is a stimulant to writing. As I recall, I was in the middle of trying to write something when the happiest moment of my life happened. I can't say what I wrote was particularly good, or that the writing of it was particularly easy...


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walexander
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Yah, I tend to try and escape when I feel down. The last thing I feel like doing Is working. My stuff already runs kind of on the dark side so the last thing I need is to be depressed also. I need to feel semi energetic to do good work. When sad I tend to turn to reading or watching tv and take my own thoughts out of the picture for a while.

The only reason I think writers/artists get a rep for being tortured souls is they tend to be more observant than the average person. They have a harder time pretending something is not happening and can get depressed that no one really wants to do anything about it, and find themselves on branches by themselves often. This usually come out in there work do to frustration looking for an outlet. Also I've noticed that writers and artists tend to have really good long term memories and can remember those frustrating events years later while everyone else has forgotten about them, or buried them.

Just my 2cents,

W.


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Tiergan
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MMMM, Dark Chocolate.

Feeling sad, I would say is like any emotion, if you are sad, it can be a powerful emotion and turned into writing can be strong.

On the other hand, my 4 year old daughter last night took a swan dive from the bunk bed and broke both bones in her left forearm. And everytime I close my arms she is there, lifting her arm, with forearm dangling, saying "I broke my arm daddy?" I think I cried more than her. End result, I can't seem to put my fear, or hurt into words, but I know if I do it will be some powerful stuff.


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philocinemas
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Wow, Tiergan, I'm so sorry. Your daughter actually had the presence of mind to say that to you? That says a lot - my 8 year old son would have freaked. My sympathies.
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LDWriter2
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Hmm, not sure if I agree either. I can't recall trying to write when I was sad but I have while being mad. Anger doesn't fit well with being creative. If it's later in the evening I give up and go to bed early.

And happy...yeah, I have written a couple of times while being truly happy. It seemed to work out okay even though it tried to distract me. Being in a good mood, which I don't think of as necessarily the same as happiness, seems to be best.


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Grayson Morris
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Being depressed is not a state in which I can write, or do much of anything else, for that matter. But I do think difficult experiences can provide a kind of ... maturity, or depth, that we can use to enrich our writing. (Or painting, or whatever.)

Actually, when I'm in the middle of any kind of intense experience, ecstatic or miserable, I'm hardly thinking of writing. I'm caught up in that experience.

I agree with walexander about artists being more observant, and less likely to ignore or lie to themselves about something that's happening to them.


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philocinemas
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I've been depressed lately; I lost my job last week - Juan Williams style. I have something lined up already, but I won't be making as much money and I'm not sure of my start date. The way it all happened was very devastating to me.

That said, I was working on a feel-good story with some tragic events that occur during the course of it. I couldn't bring myself to work on it anymore, even knowing how everything was going to work out in the end.

I switched to a western-dinosaur comedy (SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION) in order to get myself out of my funk. I found I was able to write comedy a lot better while depressed. I've also heard that many comedians are tortured souls.


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dee_boncci
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I don't know about more creative, but a bit of melancholy or sadness does move me to pick up a pen almost without exception.

I don't totally understand the term "depression" as it has clinical/medical connotations as well as common connotations that don't necessarily agree. I think the medical connotations can go well beyond sadness and can see where it might be more of an inhibitor, despite Aristotle's observation relayed in the article. I've read other authorities who link aspects of clinical depression to writer's block.

Dark chocolate though is spot on.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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philocinemas, interesting about being able to write comedy when sad. I love what has been called "gallows" humor, and I can see where that might more easily rise out of sadness--it's a way of fighting the sadness, if nothing else--illegitimus non carborundum, basically. I admire that.
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Crystal Stevens
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I read somewhere that you should write "something" no matter how you feel, even if it's not related to any of your writing projects. The idea is to pour everything you're feeling at that moment into what you print on the page. Work at bringing it all to life whether it's sadness, depression, anger, outrage, melencoly (sp?), nostalgia, anything. Get the mood at that moment written out to the last detail, and then file it away for future reference when you need that mood to come out in a story. In a way, it makes great sense.

But when my mind is on something that's bothering me, has me worried, or frightened half out of my wits, no way can I keep my mind focused on a story I might have already in the works. And eating? Forget it. My stomach tied up in knots when I'm like that. And in times of frustration, I'm better off in the bedroom beating the crap out of my pillow. Yep, I've done that a few times. LOL


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Pyre Dynasty
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It's a hundred times harder for me to turn the machine on when I'm depressed. If I do get myself to write it is random junk. And although my usual writing can be described like that, it achieves new levels.

But I also think that when we feel any emotion deeply it enhances our writing, and colors it.


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Crystal Stevens
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I couldn't agree more about our mood coloring our writing. Try to write about something good happening or upbeat when your down in the dumps. It just doesn't work. That's when I'll leave that project alone and go do something else. No sense in trying to write something totally opposite of your current mood. That shoots my focus all to pieces. Can't concentrate on my story at all.
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JamieFord
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Reminds me of a quote from Pat Conroy:

"The greatest gift a writer can ever be given is an unhappy childhood."

Sad.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Well, he certainly has gotten a lot of mileage out of his, hasn't he?

Writing can be therapeutic, and maybe being able to write about things we've survived and overcome can resonate with readers well enough to actually have some impact.

The important thing, I think, is that it has to be survived and overcome. Writing done during the experience may be too rough and raw to share, but it can certainly be "grist for the mill" eventually.


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Robert Nowall
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The equation "unhappy childhood = successful writing career" somehow offends me---on the face of it, it looks like another one of those closed doors, like going to the right schools or being the "son of" someone, that irritate me so much. I had my share of misery and disappointment and pain as a child (I was extensively bullied, for example), but on the whole I found it a happy experience---and I write.

Of course I write to little success---does this equation imply I'd've made it if I'd had an unhappy childhood?


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Brad R Torgersen
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Interesting. Perhaps the creative impulse is a natural coping mechanism for when we experience sadness or even depression? Lord knows you can't swing a dead cat without bowling over a surfeit of starving, depressed artistes. (grin)
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