Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Creativity: Balancing Passion & Madness

It is a truth universally acknowledged that writers dream of, speak to, and argue with their characters. 

Likewise, those characters beg for more scenes and better dialogue, preferring to do so when their creators are engaged in other endeavors. Like sleep. Or the occasional shower.

No wonder everyone thinks we’re crazy.

The process of creation exalts and exhausts writers. It encroaches on sleep, social lives, hobbies, day jobs, and everything else. We become emotionally involved with our stories, weeping when we inflict pain on our characters and cheering when we lead them to overcome the obstacles in their way.

The challenge of balancing passion and madness is something we all must face.

Like all creatively inclined individuals, P.T. Barnum of Barnum and Bailey's Circus saw the world differently and sought to share his vision. Public disapproval, familial troubles, and monetary struggles haunted his career, but in the end, Barnum was revered as a showman and businessman who established an enduring legacy.

I close my eyes and I can see 
a world that’s waiting up for me, that I call my own. 
Through the dark, through the door, 
through where no one’s been before, but it feels like home,
They can say, they can say it all sounds crazy. 
They can say, they can say I’ve lost my mind.
I don’t care, I don’t care, so call me crazy.
We can live in a world that we design.
‘Cause every night I lie in bed, the brightest colors fill my head.
A million dreams are keepin’ me awake.
I think of what the world could be, a vision of the one I see.
A million dreams is all it’s gonna take.
Oh, a million dreams for the world we’re gonna make.
(A Million Dreams, The Greatest Showman, 2017)

During his career, Barnum toured the country and gave lectures on “The Art of Money Getting.” In his biography P.T. Barnum: Every Crowd Has a Silver Lining, Tom Streissguth states, “[Barnum] advised listeners to follow their vocation, concentrate their energies, and advertise. (p 78)


That’s the essential difference between passion and madness. 

Instead of pursuing dreams in a haphazard way, creative individuals:
a. follow where their education and training leads, acquiring more training and expertise as needed, 
b. focus on their goals, expending their best energies to achieve them
c. develop and adhere to sound marketing plans

At one time or another, we all dream of easy success. 

However, dreams only become reality when we put in the work required. Whether we are afraid or overly eager to step onto the world’s stage, we each have a story that the world is waiting to hear. 

I see it in your eyes. You believe that lie that you need to hide your face.
Afraid to step outside, so you lock the door. But you can’t stay that way. …
You cannot be afraid.
Come alive, come alive.
Go and light your light, let it burn so bright.
Reachin’ up to the sky and it’s open wide, you’re electrified.
And the world becomes a fantasy and you’re more than you could ever be,
‘cause you’re dreamin’ with your eyes wide open.
And we know we can’t go back again to the world that we were livin’ in,
‘cause we’re dreamin’ with our eyes wide open.
So come alive.
(Come Alive, The Greatest Showman, 2017)

In walking the fine line between passion and madness, we must be a little fearless. 

We must play to our strengths, identify our weaknesses, and move forward with purpose and passion. How well the world receives our message is not a matter of chance or good fortune, success is a direct result of careful consideration, planning, and hard work. 

So, “go and light your light,” my friends. The world is waiting.

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