Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Harness your emotional grip on creativity with levels of intensity
According to Scott Barry Kaufman in his article "The Emotions That Make Us More Creative," one should consider not just emotions that are "positive and negative," but also "emotional intensity."
Kaufman argues that research shows that the belief that positive emotion increases creativity because it broadens the outlook and negative emotion narrows the focus thus reducing the creativity is "simplistic."
Kaufman went on to explain that intensity was also very important. Emotions that are positive but lack intensity do not necessarily improve creativity. Applying research done by a psychologist named Eddie Harmon-Jones and his associates, Kaufman explained that the emotion "pleasant" as too mild while "desire" has intensity and therefore greater motivational power which would lead to completing a goal.
This is all very interesting, but how does one direct it toward creative writing? Kaufman clarifies this by stating that "high emotional states focus us on completing a goal" whereas "low emotional states" drive us to "seek" greater challenge elsewhere. In a sense that lower emotional state causes us to seek creativity.
So to answer that question: how does this effect our creativity as writers? When we writers are feeling less intense, we are more likely to be inspired to come up with something new and unique. When we are feeling highly energized, it is likely we will do well to focus on a goal or action that requires completion.
When feeling good, relaxed or slightly under the weather, direct yourself to the act of drafting. Creativity will be within reach and supported by our emotional state which won't distract us with emotional intensity.
But when feeling highly emotional (positive or negative) our attention narrows, so we should be working on the final phases of a work, such as editing, formatting or organizing.
I am still thinking this through. When I am being creative in my writing, I get very intense and focused on the work I am drafting. That seems to run counter to what Kaufman is saying. But I must agree that at the start of the act of creating I am often in the medium range of emotion.
Later when I am choosing to edit, I find that being tightly focused, a high intensity desire to work on something, does get me to redraft and define my intention on a scene better than being relaxed does.
What I liked best about the article though is that he stated that creative people are able to adapt and mix emotional states for the best results. We are essentially diverse and not boxed in by our emotions. We harness them. Yeah, emotionally creative powerhouses. I'll take that complement.
Have any of you noted your emotional state and its effect on your creativity? What have you found about the connection between emotion and your work?