Indie Author Weekly

119: Tortured artist vs joyful creativity

July 06, 2021 Sagan Morrow Episode 120
Indie Author Weekly
119: Tortured artist vs joyful creativity
Show Notes Transcript

Are you the type of write who equates creativity to joy... or do you have more of a tortured, struggling artist thing going on? That’s exactly what we’re discussing on today’s episode of Indie Author Weekly!  

This is the podcast for indie authors, aspiring authors, and curious bookworms who want the inside scoop, tips and motivation, and behind-the-scenes journey of writing and self-publishing books.    

TUNE IN NOW to discover why you can be happy AND creative, and why you don't need to rely on your pain in order to be creative—plus get some creativity homework!...   

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Hello and welcome back to Indie Author Weekly! This is the podcast for indie authors, aspiring authors, and curious bookworms who want the inside scoop, tips and motivation, and the behind-the-scenes journey of writing and self-publishing books. I’m your host, Sagan Morrow (or @Saganlives on Twitter & Instagram), and I’m a productivity strategist and an author of polyamorous romcoms.

Now, do you equate creativity to joy, or do you have more of a tortured, struggling artist thing going on? Well, that’s exactly what we’re discussing on today’s episode of Indie Author Weekly!

For new and returning listeners, you can now get all Indie Author Weekly podcast episodes—plus updates on my writing projects—delivered directly to your inbox each week at… link is in the show notes.

Now let’s get into this episode of the Indie Author Weekly podcast. Today, I want to share some thoughts and insights around the concept of the tortured, struggling artist, versus creativity as joy and fun. We’re kind of building on what we discussed in Episode 118 about imposter syndrome—if you haven’t listened to that episode yet, I recommend checking it out.

If you have been listening to this podcast for any length of time, or if you follow me on social media, then you’ll know that as a productivity strategist, I have three pillars that I teach in my framework: Make Your Heart Happy, Make Your Own Rules, and Make Your Business Fun. That’s the basis of my signature program, Productivity Powerhouse, which you can learn more about and enroll at

Anyway, you might notice a theme between those three pillars… joy and creativity! That’s right. I am obsessed with helping my clients think outside the box, use their imagination to customize everything and create businesses and lives that they absolutely adore, and to really focus on pure enjoyment of this beautiful world.

And all of that sparked from how I go about my own personal life, and it’s really infused in every element of everything that I do—including my writing style. 

I write because I love it. Writing brings me so much delight. It makes me so happy, it feels absolutely delightful, to sit down at my computer and write. 

And oh my goodness—in the past couple weeks, I’ve returned to my work-in-progress that I’d set aside for MONTHS, and it is amazing. It feels fantastic. I love it so so much. I missed my protagonist, Peggy, and this novel is just delightful to write. It’s called Small Town Stilettos; I’ve mentioned it on the podcast here since I started writing it last autumn, and you can add it to your To-Read list on Goodreads for when it’s available for publication later this year. More details on that at

So, that’s been a joyful process these past couple weeks. Working on that book, writing that story, being in the act of creativity… it feels good.

Is writing always easy? No. It can get sticky. It requires dedication, time, energy, effort. But I think that too often, writers equate the writing process to a painful experience. It doesn’t need to be painful!

And yet. It seems as though every time I go on Twitter, my feed is full of writers lamenting how hard writing is, or how they don’t like it, or how it’s a constant struggle and a horrible experience.

Why?? Why is that?

In a world where the tortured artist is the norm, it is a radical act to find joy in the creative process.

Just a few weeks ago, I finally got around to reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, and when I was reading it, I was like, “Ohhh. This is why so many people have recommended this book to me!” Because her thoughts on this subject, creativity as joy, is exactly my philosophy and attitude. She articulates it SO well and writes very beautifully. 

It was absolutely hilarious, nearly every single page I was just thinking, “Yes, of course. This is absolutely right. This is exactly how I feel about things, too.” I love that. Don’t you love that feeling, when you’re reading a book and you’re thinking, “Oh my goodness, how did you get in my head?” It’s such a wonderful discovery!

I highly recommend that you, listening to this podcast right now, go out and read a copy of that book if you haven’t already. Big Magic.

Something that comes up with all of this is the way that writers often rely on drama or sadness or anger or pain to express themselves. I’ve definitely made really good use of some not-so-great experiences, to put my thoughts on the page! I’ve written some pretty good pieces as a direct result of that. I wrote a short story that was inspired from a recurring nightmare, and the process of writing that actually helped me to stop having that nightmare. Super powerful. Very cathartic. And I’m really pleased with that piece of writing, too.

But does that mean that we can only write decent pieces from a place of pain? Hell no! Elizabeth Gilbert and I are in agreement on this, and apparently on many other things. 

In fact, what I have discovered is, the more that I am willing to express myself from a place of what brings me the most joy in creating, the better my writing has become. Making use of a range of our emotions is good and important—we need to feel our feelings, and sometimes it helps a lot to process them through the act of creating.

However, this becomes a problem when we only create from a place of pain and sorrow. What could happen if you create when you are feeling happy? What kind of work can you produce in that state?

Post your thoughts on this on Twitter or Instagram and tag me, @Saganlives, because I’m curious about your take on all of it.

Now, if you’re the kind of person who only creates when you’re sad or in pain, then I have some homework for you today… 

The next time you’re having a really good day, feeling joyful and happy, make a point of creating something. See what comes of it. Can you create when you’re happy? What do you create? What do you think of the quality of it? 

You might find that it’s even more powerful and even better than you thought possible, because you’re expressing yourself in a new and different way, and because you’re coming at it with a range of emotions you haven’t really tapped into before.

Give it a try. See what happens.

You don’t need to be a tortured artist. You don’t need to be in pain to create amazing work. You can be happy and a great writer. These things are not mutually exclusive. Creativity can equate to joy.

And I think that’s real power, don’t you?

All right. That, my friend, is a wrap for today’s episode of Indie Author Weekly! Access the show notes for this episode, including all links and additional resources, at

Thank you so much for tuning in. Please take 2 minutes to rate and review Indie Author Weekly on Apple Podcasts—I really appreciate your support. 

Until next week, this is Sagan Morrow, signing off the Indie Author Weekly podcast.