The Care and Feeding of Creative People

This is one for you to share with your spouse, best friend, family, whoever it is that you (a creative type person) rely on for support.

Everyone needs support. Very few people would argue with that. That doesn’t look the same for everyone, no matter what the magazines in the cash register racks try to tell you. Just like fashion isn’t a once size fits all proposition, or there are so many different kinds of music out there. Support for the people around you needs to be tailored for them.

Today, I’m going to talk about the kinds of support that creative type people need.

To start with, let’s define “creative type.” I don’t want to suggest that others aren’t creative, but it’s not what feeds them. A creative type person is someone who has to create in order to feel alive. I, for example, am a writer. I must write or I die. Almost literally. When I don’t write, I feel dead inside. I’m not the fun person my husband married. My husband for his part is drawer. I can always tell when he’s left his art alone for too long because he gets cranky, sleeps too much and is generally no fun to be around. My mother and brother are not creative type people. They can go years without making anything and nothing changes for them.

I bring this up because I have a friend, another writer, who has been struggling with how to explain to her non-creative husband that she needs her writing time. I have to admit, that I’m only hearing her side of this. Still it’s an argument I’ve seen before. I’ve seen marriages fall apart over this issue, and I really don’t want my fried to go through that. I’ve also seen marriages strengthened when the creative person is successfully able to get their spouse to understand.

Creative types have some similar needs. Mostly, we need the space and tools to practice our creativity. It’s not all that hard to give us these things (well if your creative expression involves carving life size marble statues that might be a bit of an inconvenience). For a writer, all it takes is a place to write and something to write with. Some of us can get away with just a notebook and pens. Most of us need a computer these days. Painters need canvases, paints, and brushes. My husband just needs his computer with the tablet and stylus.

The hard part is getting the time.

That’s where the loves of our lives come in. It takes patience to let your special someone go off into their space to be creative. It’s not going to be convenient all the time. It might require you to be the parent while your spouse is off in fantasy land. It might mean you have to do the laundry more often than you think is fair, or take over washing the dishes. Or you could accept that they will choose creating over snuggling with you to watch a movie, or going to bed at a reasonable hour.

The thing is, creative people need to create. It’s our defining need. Without it, we become cranky. You’ll find that we are angry all the time, or on the verge of tears. Sometimes both. It’s not just that we are being melodramatic. We really are miserable when we are prevented from our preferred form of creation. We are starving. It’s nearly impossible to be pleasant when you are wanting for an essential part of yourself.

I don’t want to suggest that this is a one-way transaction. Once the creative person is fed, they need to turn around and feed their partner. When time has been set aside for creating time must also be set aside for snuggling, watching movies, cross country skiing, or whatever it is that feeds the partner. See, it’s not just creative people who have needs that aren’t part of the standard hierarchy of needs. There are so many other options, and we creative types need to feed that in our partners, too. It’s a negotiation, like everything in a relationship.

I’m hoping that my friend will succeed in negotiating a workable solution with her husband.

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