A few months back I was watching the news, and towards the end of the broadcast there was a significant amount of attention paid to some young man’s leg. Apparently, he had suffered some sort of ouchie and it was going to make his sportsball activities problematic. But never fear! A team of physios and doctors and coaches were going to ensure that his leg would be all better in time for his latest competitive outing.
Imagine if that much attention was paid to an Australian artist who was struggling with the inspiration for their latest Archibald offering, or a Miles Franklin award-winning author who wasn’t feeling it even though their latest draft was due.
This isn’t an article about the value of art in the media (I’ll save that for another day). This is an article about the social acceptance of discussing a professional athlete’s fitness, nurturing their health and building a team around them for the support and preservation of their athleticism. What if we, as creative professionals, were allowed to feel that same sense of support and acknowledgement for our craft? What if we respected our creativity in the same way that an athlete regards their own fitness, with that effortless confidence that what they have to offer is important and valuable?
Professional athletes are born with heightened physical gifts, beyond those of us mere mortals. When their talent is identified, they might be encouraged to pursue that ability. When they become more professional, they get to work with specialists who are there to help them with the physical, mental and emotional aspects of maintaining their prowess.
Fitness is a part of someone’s physical makeup, and we can discuss it as both an internal measurement and something to be tended to externally. We understand the distinct cause and effect. A professional athlete that only eats pizza and slobs on the couch will still be more sporty than the rest of us, but much less likely to be able to do their work than someone who trains, diets and takes their abilities seriously.
I believe that an artist’s creativity is the same as an athlete’s fitness. It’s inside us, something we are born with, that can then be nurtured and tended to by ourselves and others. We all have it, but some of us are more gifted than others. There are also external influences, a cause and effect for inspiration and creative ability, we’re just crap at seeing it, acknowledging it, and respecting it.
I’m not suggesting that we all need creative coaches and an ‘inspo’ physio (although that would be cool). A good first step though would be learning more about our own cause and effect processes to get a better understanding of where our good ideas and inspiration come from. In our Being Well workshop, we ask participants to list their methods for finding inspiration, and it’s remarkable how many we share, including showers, walks, listening to music, meditating, time spent with dogs, and dancing. The other remarkable aspect about this exercise is how surprised creatives are to find that their own methods for inspiration are shared by so many others.
If creativity is like fitness, then it can also be damaged by the knock-on effects of other aspects of our health. If a cold or the flu impacts on an athlete’s abilities, then we can have creative ill health as well. Our version of the ‘creative sniffles’ might be extended procrastination, a bit of imposterism, or a touch of creative block. Our version of creative pneumonia might very well be burnout.
Although we’ll have to wait a while before an artists’ creative health is discussed on the news, we can take the first step ourselves. It’s our responsibility to start respecting and taking care of what we have, doing more to ensure we maintain our creativity with the same determination as our athletic friends looking after their fitness. Perhaps if we start taking our creativity more seriously, others will follow.
If you’re feeling inspired, please start having the conversation about creative wellbeing with your peers and friends. Follow the links in this article and book in for one of our many webinars and workshops about creative wellness and how to build a sustainable creative business.