Monday, September 9, 2013

Creative People Are Crazy

So I’d like to begin with a story from my childhood. I promise, you should stick with it, because there’s an a cappella-related payoff at the end.
When I was young, maybe about 7…or…8…or…25, my mom took me to the local amusement park.
[Fun Fact: The local amusement park was called Adventureland…the very same Adventureland that the Hollywood film, Adventureland, was based on, starring Jesse Eisenberg.]
ANYWAY…she took me into the local arcade (arcades were something we had back then where people would go and play video games together…crazy talk…I know) and she handed me some quarters and said “Go Nuts!”
[Fun Fact: I’m pretty sure she didn’t say “Go nuts.” She probably said something like “Don’t eat candy from the floor” or “Don’t die…” something motherly like that.]
Now I have a very hyperactive imagination, which often gets me into trouble. For some reason, I’m still not really sure why, I suddenly began to pretend that these quarters were a family of quarters. If I spent one of these quarters on a game, the other quarters would be devastated, because I would have permanently disposed of one of their family.
This scenario began to take hold of my mind, so much so in fact that I spent the entire day wandering around the arcade, too guilty to spend a single quarter.
[Fun Fact: At the end of the day, my mother took the quarters back, assuming I still had some left after a fun filled day of gaming, and promptly took them to a bank where she converted them into dollar bills.]
In case you were wondering, yes, that is a true story.
So where does the relation to a cappella fit in? Well, I didn’t know it at the time, but that hyperactive imagination became the cause, and solution of, many of the problems I face today. My hyperactive imagination stems from the fact that I am a creative person.
I recently began investigating the habits of creative individuals and how their minds work and after some study, I came to one, generally accepted truth about creative people:
Creative people are 100% insane.
Yep. Consider the above story. I let my overactive imagination prevent me from spending one quarter at the arcade because I couldn’t separate fact from fiction. Let’s consider the habits of creative people, and how they relate to a cappella people.
1) Energy
“Creative people tend to be energetic. Though they may have bouts of laziness (like most of us), they do manage to overcome this and get things done. They have a deeply felt need to be productive, because they get a strong emotional boost from creative work.” (Allen, 85)
A cappella people are energetic, and lazy at the same time. They feel a sense of emotional satisfaction when a song is sung through, from beginning to end. They feel happier when a rehearsal is productive and angry when a rehearsal is wasted. And yet, a cappella people tend to procrastinate. They tend to book more rehearsals right before a concert or gig, because one or two songs just haven’t been finished yet.
2) Playfulness
“They are often playful and quite happy to mess about with activities that others might regard as childish. They are not especially bothered about appearing serious or adult.” (Allen, 85)
Have you ever met an a cappella enthusiast who is completely serious all the time? I haven’t. The best a cappella comes from the best music. The best music comes from the best imagination. The best imagination comes from the people who don’t color inside the lines, who think outside the box, who would rather watch Spongebob than Downton Abbey.
3) Focusing On Projects
“As long as the ideas they are using remain sufficiently arresting, creative people are able to remain focused on a project for as long as it takes to bring it to a successful completion. They can be quite obsessive and frequently become deeply involved in a project.” (Allen, 86)
Barring any Doctor Who marathons, this is true for me especially. I can become fixated on something (like the quarter story) so much that it becomes difficult or impossible to shift my attention.
A cappella people who share this trait should use it to their advantage. Group members who recognize this trait in others must give these creative people room to finish their projects in peace. If your top arranger is suddenly charged with also organizing the school a cappella festival, you can bet that his/her next arrangement will not get the attention it needs, and the arranger will become moody and aggravated. Please…give creative people time to be creative.
4) The Link Between Introversion and Extroversion
-Creative people showed tremendous interest in activities, but also required significant “alone time.”
-Creative people tend to overthink situations and be hypercritical.
-Creative people, to strangers, tend to be hard to approach. To friends, creative people are warm, friendly, and pleasant.
-Creative people tend to manipulate their appearances to various circles of friends.
Know someone like this? Perhaps in your group? They might be a creative person. Give them a chance to be creative, to shine, or to be left alone, and you might see them become more active and friendly.
5) Openness and Sensitivity
“Creative people’s openness and sensitivity often exposes them to suffering and pain, yet also to a great deal of enjoyment…Being along at the forefront of a discipline also leaves you exposed and vulnerable.”
Creative people are basically walking paradoxes. They can be both open and shy, depressed and exuberant, happy to be the center of attention while simultaneously wishing to be invisible.
The key to getting along with your a cappella group is understanding and recognizing these creative individuals. In most cases, I’d wager that everyone has some tendencies to be creative individuals, which can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts.
Striking the right balance between understanding your group as a whole and understanding your group as individuals is the key to working in harmony. Creative individuals must forgive others for misunderstanding them and be more open and honest.
Allen, R. (2011) How to be a genius. NY: Collins & Brown.
Kaufman, S. (2011) After the show: The many faces of the performer. Posted on March 6 at
Marc Silverberg
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