I didn’t watch the Oscars this year, but I have seen the following quote everywhere. It is attributed to Robert De Niro (but, possibly not written by him?), as he handed out the award for best screenplay:
“The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing,” he said. “Isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination, and consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day.”
Do we, as a society, still believe that great art, songs, books, plays etc. are only created through struggle and torment? I, for one, am bored of this stereotype.
However, this myth will never die, because the machine that controls creativity (in some areas of Hollywood, anyway — and I am partly speaking from experience here), has too much invested in keeping it alive. If writers turned out NOT to be addicted, depressive, struggling and lacking in self-esteem, they might turn out to be powerful, pro-active, and in-charge. And it’s much easier to control someone, when they are operating from a place of fear and survival, than when they are operating from a place of possibility and freedom.
What’s most disappointing of all, is that so many writers embrace this point of view. And I am more than guilty of this, because for years I was more than eager to jump on the tortured writer band-wagon. We, as writers, willingly participate in the myth, thinking that it somehow makes us special. It doesn’t. What it does, is make us tired and tiresome.
It’s time for writers to embrace a new philosophy. One in which they are powerful. In control of their creativity. And not willing to sacrifice their imagination to the whims of others.
So how about the following?
The mind of a writer can be a truly wonderful thing. Imaginative, content, fulfilling, embracing creativity and marked by feelings of acceptance, self-love, and soulful connection with their work and with others. And that’s on a very, very good day.
May the old myths fall.
May new ones be born.
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