Solitude: The Independent Creative’s Muse

Solitude is often thought of as a lost art. For many, in this age of instant communication, being alone just isn't on the menu. Some people are afraid of what they will find if they let their mind go to a quiet place, while others simply don't know how to shut off their thoughts. Either way, finding some down-time is essential for the independent creative.

Being alone has been heralded by some of the great thinkers. Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso, and Carl Sandburg all believed that flying solo was necessary for new thought. So did Frank Kafka, the 20th century novelist, who was quoted as saying, “You need not leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. You need not even listen, simply wait, just learn to become quiet, and still, and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice; it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”

Likewise, Nikola Tesla, the famous electromagnetic scientist said, “the mind is sharper and keener in seclusion and uninterrupted solitude. Originality thrives in seclusion free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind. Be alone—that is the secret of invention: be alone, that is when ideas are born.”

But what is it, exactly, about solitude that allows freedom of ideas? Is it the pure removal of distraction that gives rise to new thought? Or, is it that we are conduits, who are only ready to receive information from another dimension, when our minds are clear?

According to Carl Jung, the renowned Swiss psychiatrist, the latter is true. Jung believed that, “The unborn work in the psyche of the artist is a force of nature. We would do well, therefore, to think of the creative process as a living thing implanted in the human psyche.”

In this context, it makes sense that this “unborn thing,” needs space, air, and care to grow; just as a flower needs sunlight.

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