Creative Solitude

“Yes, but what about ugly programmers? It’s not as simple as walking outside and meeting someone. You first have to go to the gym and beef up, and that takes too much time, etc … it’s too much trouble — in the end, a bottle of vasoline and an asian schoolgirl porno account is more efficient.”

I read an interesting book yesterday called “The School of Genius” by Anthony Storr (1988). He argues that many great creatives have spend their lives as singles (i.e., they had no partner and mostly weak ties to others), which is okay and supportive to creative work.

While I think that most would probably have gladly spend their time with a soulmate — providing they would only have  found it — I also think that he has a point. Especially that it is a skill to be able to be alone and concentrate on one’s work. Creativity needs a lot of time (see also here) and having a partner cuts into that time budget. Solitude is necessary (at times) to be creative and time and spaces for solitude should be planned into your infrastructure to be creative.

On the other hand, I also think that being creative (or often just ‘being alive’) is such a roller coaster ride that is only bearable when you share it with someone else, with a partner, with a soulmate. This person provides inspiration, feedback, and support, and allows for intimacy, happiness, closeness … in short makes life worth living. Otherwise solitude quickly become loneliness, which leads to depression and despair. Like Dracula said in Bram Stokers Dracula (1992) “The luckiest man in the world is he who finds true love.”

Do I think that I will find it? Probably not.
Do I stop searching for it after being disappointed again and again? Probably … not.


  1. How true! But it’s really hard to find that partner who is willing to take that roller coaster ride with you … I think that a relationship for a creative person will work if (a) both of them are creative and working hard on what they want to create, as this also provides something to share when the two get together again — exchange with someone at your level is SO great! –, or if (b) one dedicates his/her entire existence for the sake of their partner’s creativity (model “Mrs. Thomas Mann”). I count myself among the lucky few who have found that very soulmate (but it was a LONG way!) :)))

  2. Yup, I agree — especially that such a person is hard to find. It’s even harder if model “Mrs. Thomas Mann” is completely out of the question. I want a mutually stimulating and supporting relationship, not someone who wastes her life on someone else, even if this person is me. BRRRRR, couldn’t live with that. 🙁

    And I think while many great women have the problem of finding a partner who does not feel diminished by their greatness, some men have the problem of finding a woman who does not handicap herself because she sees this as the only way to find (and keep) a partner. Sure, many men feel threatened by great women and rather want an accessory than a partner, but there are exceptions. And if you are such an exception, it’s very hard to strike the right balance. Most women cannot handle equality themselves. They either try to work themselves into the role they think they should take, or they try to use the man as a cheap source of resources — à la Mr. Handyman, nice to (mis-)use but nothing else.

    I think it takes a lot of maturity on both sides not to fall back into these roles, which might be “easier”, but which are (in my opinion) a complete waste of time … and emotion. So, yes, it’s hard, not wonder that love — true, cold or black — is such a great source of creativity. If humans could not work it out in creative projects — songs, movies, poems, stories — we’d all either kill ourselves, go insane, or break down.

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