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Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The Tao of Bjork: Why Creative People can get Depressed, and What To Do

Links are in orange.

"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” - Dr. Seuss

First, a little confession. Then onto the topic of the day. 'Why Creative Peo...' Screw it. Too much jibber jabber from me. Read the title for the topic. On to the blog entry...

If you're anything like me, you might be my evil twin. Why didn't mum tell me about you? I hope you aren't planning to take revenge on me for all those years of neglect.

Sorry, off topic like always. And I was doing so well...

Ok, if you're anything like me, you probably enjoy reading blogs where said bloggers let you into their life a little. I however, have not done that as yet. In fact, my first entry which was about me, told you nothing about me. It instead spoke of ninjas.

The main reason (confession alert) I've avoided the very interesting topic of me is because it is a little scary to expose yourself like that ... And give your evil twin details to exploit in their elaborate revenge plans ... And so I admire those who do.

So, in this entry, I will plan to give you a little insight into what I am doing, as well as some value to take away for anyone with dreams to follow their creative pursuits.

This story starts a long time ago, in a metaphorical galaxy far, far away...

A younger version of myself was working from eight to five-thirty (on good days), five days a week, in a good job. Thing was, I was depressed.

Reason being - while my body was at work my mind and soul were living and breathing the stories I wanted to write every moment of every day, and I felt like I was forever holding back an explosion of creativity. The need to write and share these stories was so great, it literally started impacting upon my otherwise very happy life.

Here's what Bjork says about her creativity...

“Songwriting is like a thunderstorm building up inside me. If I don’t write songs, I get all bottled up. It’s almost like a survival mechanism. For me, music has to have a little speck of intrigue or the unknown. Also, I’m an old school romantic in the sense that even if you write songs about dark stuff, the root of the song should be about going through the tunnel and coming out on the other side with a happy ending. I’m not into songs that are just about self-pity or self-indulgence. I usually look at songs as little trips that show you going on your way to some other place.”

When I first read that, it really resonated with me. Not only the way she describes the need to write, the same creative energy I was trying to contain, but also her desire to create stories with "happy" endings.

Anyway, I was trying to write the book I have now finished, but only had weekends, late nights and early mornings. These segments of the day, not on the proverbial treadmill, were filled with tiredness, house jobs and maintaining some sort of social life... and then squeezing in a session of writing in different zombie like states of tiredness.

Does this sound familiar to you? If you have a project outside of work, I am sure you know how this feels.

Anyway, I was down all the time and constantly frustrated. Seeing this, my wonderful wife proposed I cut down my days to four... Not five. And my boss agreed.

I was so nervous about asking, for so long, but in the end it was very easy, and...

It was one of the best decisions in my life. Instantly I became happier. I felt more alive. And I was able to download from my brain to the page the cumulative total of my ideas from the week, with no distractions or obligations.

Not too long after, my book was done!

"Now my first book is done", I thought, "I can allow my other books to start flowing through me." But the faucet (or rather the flood gate) had been opened and the stories came so quickly I knew I had only one option - somehow find a way to write full-time.

How did I do that?

Well, this may not be for you, but we did the extreme life makeover. My wife and I saved up, quit our jobs, and moved to Vietnam for three months to manage the business of promoting and selling my first published book online, and even more importantly, so I could dedicate my time to writing more. My wife is also taking this awesome opportunity to soak up the sun and work on her own projects.

Because of the economy of scale, (Geographical Leveraging if you want to get fancy cf Tim Ferris 4hour work week) Vietnam is a great place for living on the cheap and living your dream. You can, if you're smart, live near the beach, and live on perhaps $20-30 Australian a day (my wife and I collectively live on $40). You could live on less, but the above estimate makes it all very comfortable. And on a side note, the people are some of the loveliest you'll meet anywhere in the world.

The important thing however is that I've been walking on sunshine, living my dream, EVERY day. And I've been extremely productive. I've even written a new free story here just for you, my lovely reader, that I will put on my blog soon. (And we've only just got here).

So what's the main lesson in this entry? For you, it is that you can and should follow your passions. If you don't, you won't be as happy as you can be.

A secondary lesson is that if you think creatively, there are ways to make your dreams work.

A tertiary lesson is: wow, this blog is awesome and I should subscribe so that I can read the free story Daniel is going to post up very soon.

And the lesson for me? I can let a little more of me slip into a blog entry, share a bit more (after all, sharing is caring), and the sun will still rise on this beautiful Vietnamese beach tomorrow.

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