One of the blogs I follow is Boy with a Hat and today he discussed how he simplified his life to be more creative. In closing he asked if we felt better when we are by ourselves or with others. (http://vincentmars.com/2013/05/15/on-living-a-simple-life/#comment-7773)
Creative people such as artists and writers (as opposed to performing artists who create before an audience) create in privacy or seclusion. It’s hard to write or paint when you have someone looking over your shoulder. There is a definite high that comes from the creative process (as well as a definite low when things are not going well) and over time I think that high becomes associated with the ‘being alone when it happens’ factor.
In other words, I think the creative person starts making a causal relationship where there is none – when I am alone I am creative … if I am alone I will be creative … I cannot be creative unless I am alone … being alone makes me creative. Eventually, the search for the creative high can lead to isolation.
But when an artist is isolated he loses some of the raw materials needed to be creative in the first place. Unless a writer gets out to talk and observe others, he becomes very self centered and soon his writing becomes repetitious and uninspired. Unless a painter removes himself from the studio, his art becomes stuck at the same level with the same old techniques.
In addition, when an artist is isolated, he doesn’t have the creative community involved in his process. He has no outside viewpoints or opinions to either agree with or react against. His one-sided perspective eventually leads not to greater confidence but to more insecurity. Without someone to listen to his creative dialogue, without a sounding board, his statements become hollow and self-serving.
I think this is the main reason why you will find art colonies or artistic communities scattered around the country. Artists need other artists to interact with, and as much as they complain about interruptions to their work, or ignorant comments by audiences, they need that interaction to stay focused on their work.
Whenever a creative person is stuck for inspiration, or blocked in expression, the best thing he or she can do is to get out among other people. The creative muse may only visit when an artist is alone, but being among others gives the muse raw materials from which to choose. We need both isolation and community.