Being more creative out of our comfort zone
Many people – maybe most of us – want to avoid anxiety, fear and other “stressful” feelings.
Except for the occasional roller coaster ride or horror movie, if you enjoy those.
But many actors and other artists often use those kinds of feelings to guide and energize their work.
Julia Stiles says she chooses projects based on “ways I need to be stretched as an actor.
“I wouldn’t want to keep doing the same thing over and over again, which is one reason I wanted to do this play [Fran’s Bed].
“I wanted go back onstage in a way that’s different from anything I’ve ever experienced before.
“That’s the way I look at movies, too. I think you can get into a comfort zone as an actor and I try to break out of that.”
[broadway.com interview by Kathy Henderson • Sep 12, 2005]
One of her most powerful characters, for me, was as Lumen in the TV series Dexter, in 2010.
She has commented about one of the emotional challenges of intense roles:
“I never think of myself as an actor who takes work home with them, but I was surprised, especially toward the end of the season — around episode 10 — when some of the details of what Lumen had experienced became really harrowing, and I started to realize that it was affecting me outside of work.
“One scene in particular, in episode 10, when the detectives have found DVDs showing what has happened to the victims — it was really dark. It made it more difficult for me to sleep.”
Audra McDonald commented in an interview:
“The most important thing for me as an actress is to be fearless and to challenge myself.
“Acting in TV and film forces me outside of my comfort zone.”
[The Christian Science Monitor November 22, 2002.]
[Photo from facebook.com/AudraMcDonald]
Psychologist Mihaela Ivan Holtz works with creative people in TV/Film, performing and fine arts, and writes about the emotional and creative pleasures of their inner life – and its challenges – on her site Creative Minds Psychotherapy.
In one of her articles about the emotions that artists face and work with, she writes:
As an artist, there are the moments when you feel at home with yourself, connected, deeply involved. Nothing else matters.
You are in your comfort zone. Those are the moments when you immerse yourself in what you create or perform with passion, completely focused and lost in your work.
There are no fears, no doubts, and no rumination about past or future. It’s just you and your art deeply connected, flowing together in harmony. …
And then, there are the moments when you are not involved with your art.
This is when you don’t feel at home anymore. You fall into agitation or some kind of emotional void.
Slipping into “a funk” relieves some of the anxiety, but you’re left feeling empty and disconnected. You wonder what is happening to you when you are not expressing your art.
You’re trapped between standing on the edge and being lost in a dark cloud…
Cut off from your creative expression, you find yourself angry and frustrated that you can’t escape the anxiety or the depression. You are moving in between nervousness and gloom.
And then you start to wonder, “Am I doomed to feel this way forever?”
You might assume that creative madness is just a part of the artist’s life. Are you bound to this madness?
What can you do to escape it? Should you escape? What if you lose your creativity?
See much more in her article From Creative Madness to Creative Freedom.
Fear can be energizing
Sandra Bullock has said, “I don’t do anything anymore that feels safe.
“If it doesn’t scare the crap out of you, then you’re not doing the right thing.”
[Photo from ‘Gravity’ – from post: Living and Creating: Fear Is Not A Disease.]
Choreographer Twyla Tharp thinks “terror, loathsome as it is, is very energizing.
“To channel that, to call it excitement, enthusiasm, curiosity, maybe that’s not a bad thing.”
When fear is disabling
Sometimes, of course, fear or anxiety such as stage fright can be disrupting or disabling if it gets too extreme. It may be a matter of perspective, of how you label and think about your inner experiences.
But creativity coach Eric Maisel, PhD notes in his article “The way that we say things…” that we have “our little linguistic tricks” that can hide anxiety that we really would be better off dealing with – “tricks” like saying, “I can’t see the point in auditioning for that – I’m just not the type.”
Related book: The Performance Anxiety Workbook – by Eric Maisel
Performance Anxiety Course by Luciane Cardassi
Practical Steps to Overcoming Performance Anxiety “is a focused, effective, online course for any performer who wants to be more confident on stage.”
Emotional Health Resources
Meditation programs, biofeedback devices, stress relief products
YouTube / Mental Health – Emotional Health videos
Facebook / Emotional Health and Creativity videos
Anxiety Relief Solutions site