Does Higher Education Encourage Creativity… Or Quench It?

I’ve sometimes wondered how my education has affected my creativity as an artist and writer.

I wonder if my degree in higher learning has curbed my enthusiasm for writing and other forms of creativity.

In my college years, it felt like I was always jotting ideas down between classes or using longer stretches of time write up some story’s plot line or scene or dialogue while other students passed me by on the way to their classes.

This is the time of year I often think of new ideas in stories.

The ideas are still there, but something isn’t. Something is missing. Maybe it’s the passion and enthusiasm … or perhaps it’s just the energy.

Years have passed, after all, since those college seasons.

Maybe it’s the space that I lack. Perhaps any space really is creative space.

But then I also wonder if it is all the reading and education, at least in part, that has caused my creativity to wane.

With so much reading and learning, which I love and which I continue to do, I’ve realized in part just how much is really out there.

So many styles of writing and art. So many genres.

With so many niches, I’ve learned just how difficult it is to establish one’s space as a writer or artist.

It seems as though even every niche and subgenre and sub-subcategory has been not only written about and taken … but extensively (and many times uncreatively).

It feels sometimes like the people with the marketing degrees are the ones who make it as writers and artists … not because they have the greatest skill in the art of creativity but because they know how to put themselves out there in this modern context and culture.

Of course, some good writers can be marketers and some marketers can be good writers. The two do not have to be mutually exclusive.

But in this modern culture of needing to have a large platform or regular speaking events and using SEO (to reach not people but spider bots I think they’re called), much of writing and much of making it as an artist is not the creative act itself but the building of one’s brand and platform and marketing oneself.

For me, as a highly sensitive person and an introvert, that takes the heart out of writing.

It steals the joy out of it.

I know there are extroverted writers and artist out there and perhaps some marketing experts who are also introverts or even highly sensitive. I don’t know.

The statistics say that 70% of highly sensitive people are introverts and I know that many introverts do work that involves interacting with people and they just muscle through it.

In my professional life, I do the same.

But that one-on-one social interaction takes all the energy I have and I don’t have more left over to think about setting up speaking engagements or writing SEO articles or figuring out every social media platform in order to build my platform.

Several years ago, I completed a manuscript.

It went through a number of drafts and revisions, beta readers, and editors.

Then I sent it out to both agents and independent publishing companies, all of which got back to me with pretty much the same thing.

You’re a good writer and this material is solid, but you don’t have a platform.

Maybe I’m just sensitive, highly sensitive at that, but something either broke or died inside of me since then.

I’ve continued reading and studying and honing the craft of writing, but some part of the enthusiasm, the hope, faded.

Some introverts, like Susan Cain, while embracing and teaching on the power of quiet has still had to play the game of the extrovert world …

Speaking and engaging in order to get the message out.

Perhaps I have not educated myself too much.

Perhaps it is not the scores of classes or the passing of years that has caused me to set down my pen and pencil for a time.

Perhaps it is not even the overthinking that we HSPs are so prone to doing.

Is not the knowledge itself, but what I have chosen to do with it.

In this case, unfortunately, I have chosen to grow discouraged and let that keep me from writing …

At least from seriously writing toward a specific end.

Maybe this very knowledge or realization will be enough to get me out of this funk, this furlough, this neglect, of writing.

So I overthink. I’m a highly sensitive person, after all.

So I don’t have a platform that is worthy of our modern culture’s attention.

But I still have a gift.

I still find joy in writing and art.

And because of this combination of skill and joy, I think I have a calling.

And I think I can no longer ignore it.

I think it is time to write.