Writers! Your mental health is key to creative success.

It has long been the unwritten, yet accepted ideal that mental illness, and negative moods contribute positively to a poet’s creativity.

Research supports quite the contrary. Alice M. Isen, a professor of Psychology and Marketing at Cornell, has found positive affect (a.k.a. feeling) helps creativity.

Being in a good mood and staying on top of your mental cobwebs:

  • makes additional cognitive material available for processing, increasing the number of cognitive elements available for association
  • leads to defocused attention and a more complex cognitive context, increasing the breadth of elements treated as relevant to the problem
  • increases cognitive flexibility, increasing the probability that diverse cognitive elements will in fact become associated

When these happen in cohesion, it does everything but drain your brain. So, the next time you have a tagline, or novel to write, take a deep breath, a walk, or conduct a massive brainstorming session, to clear your mental sphere. Open your mind. Get into the right mood to create and you’re sure to see results.

According to the beloved Plath, “And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”


One thought on “Writers! Your mental health is key to creative success.

  1. russellservis0811 August 31, 2011 / 7:40 pm

    “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” Absolutely. The more frustrated I get with completing a piece of writing or a song (or any project), whether through continuous distractions or technical/structural difficulties, the more I doubt the value of the piece and simultaneously the creative juices stop flowing. They often arise again in a new project, and that then invites the whole cycle again. There seems to be a period of creativity that follows from a period of frustration, unhappiness, confusion, during which ideas blossom. This is the time to create, as is a time of sustained happiness, even though the distractions may be great. I don’t think I’ve ever written my way out of feeling down. That is the time I need to be doing something that gives me new inspiration.

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