Posted by Annisa Belonogoff

My father tells me a story of when he realised I was “creative”. When I was a toddler one day I decided the neighbours freshly planted new flower bed was in the wrong spot and I needed to replant them elsewhere. I can only imagine my father’s conversation with the neighbours. One; letting them know what I had done and two; trying to explain to them how I did it so quickly, probably covering up how he wasn’t paying attention in the process. I tell my father I knew exactly where those flowers needed to be planted. He responded that I seemed to have a vision and a plan, like a voice in my ear, and I needed to see it through with no regards to the rules - I was a toddler.

We lived on five acres in a small town in the middle of central Queensland, Australia. Our backyard was a small bush oasis with a billabong down the back. Yes, you heard, a legit billabong. My parents would hear stories from neighbours telling us how they would see the largest brown snakes (very deadly, for those playing at home) come out of our yard and disappear across the road. My mother tells me stories of how when I was 5 or 6 I would say goodbye to her and disappear into the long grass. I asked her one day, “why didn’t you stop me?”. She said, “you knew what to do with snakes, you knew where you were going, and even though you were by yourself you always talked about a friend that came with you”.

Great, I was the girl with the “imaginary friend”. That kid, that typical thing that adults dismiss so quickly with “Oh, they’ll grow out of it”. Why do I tell you this? Because I’ve learnt, now, after much research, many years of trying to understand creativity myself, talking with therapists, and interviewing other creatives, that what has been with me this whole time, is not an “imaginary friend”, it is not just a “creative moment”, no it is much more than that. What has been with me this whole time is what named my “Creative Mind Monster”.

 

Creative Mind Monster How to Understand  Share Your Creativity

Still from short film: "Reality Check"
 

You may have experienced this yourself, that itch in your mind when a creative idea comes to light. You can’t explain it, but need to make it, you need to see it through, it’s like a nonexistent voice yelling at every atom of your being. Vibrating through your body, your daydreams, your nightmares, that need, that fix, you need to create. If you ignore it, it will scream at you. If you put it off, it will haunt you. If you tell it you “don’t’ have time right now”, or you don’t have the means to execute it how you see it in your mind, it will annoy you and make your life miserable.

You will walk around, going through the motions of your day, wondering why you feel something is missing in your life. Why colour doesn’t look right and joy within your heart seems to have dimmed and perhaps in some cases, nonexistent. “A creative’s depression”, is what my therapist called it. Perhaps you were like me, you ignored your Creative Mind Monster. You told it to go away, it’s “not normal” this thing that lives inside you. You shunned a part of yourself, your best friend you were born with and what was left was this disconnect, emptiness, a language you wanted to share but no one was willing to learn or listen, and as a result, we creatives are labelled anxious, crazy, depressed etc.

Society Like to put things in a box.

Society likes to put things in a box, to make it simple, easy for them to understand... especially when it comes to creatives. Why? Because creatives are scary, when we are fully committed to an idea and we execute it with such impact, we make people feel things. We open their eyes to what they are afraid of facing, the possibilities that they are unsure they have the courage for. When we fully commit to our creative idea, we open a portal of vulnerability, growth and wisdom in understanding humanity in a way that most would prefer to ignore because it can be too joyous, or loving, or beautifully heartbreaking. And you know this because they say revealing things to you, like, “I don’t know how you came up with this?”, “Where did this idea come from?”, “you are so creative, I could never come up with something like that”

But before there is praise for your creative projects, there is ridicule.

 

Creative Mind Monster How to Understand  Share Your Creativity

A photo from my photographic series “Unadorned”

 

I grew up thinking my relationship with my Creative Mind Monster, was wrong. It was a defect. That something was wrong with me. I saw such joy and whimsy in things like rain. I would come up with stories for items in our house and how they lived when we weren’t watching them. I could run away with my best friend, my Creative Mind Monster, for hours, and felt as though I missed out on nothing.

But as fun as it was, it was also heartbreaking. I felt like my Monster would make me feel empathy for people. I would fixate on social behaviours and wonder why we felt the need to act a certain way or why people would lose their cool on the simplest things to fix. I never understood gossip, or why people would value the entertainment of the lives of others instead of trying to make theirs more enjoyable.

Human emotions, behaviours and unsaid communications interested me. My Monster and I would have discussions about it for hours. We would come up with creative concepts and projects that would allow us to show our language to others, to help them discover, understand and see the world or worlds which we saw.

Please don’t get this twisted. For many years I hid my Creative Mind Monster away, because according to my social understanding if I spoke about such things as a teenager if I worded that wrong to an adult if I didn’t know exactly how to explain this essence of myself... I’m sure you can understand my fear. My very real fear, that I feel many creatives have said to themselves at one time or another, “am I crazy?”.

The discovery of my Creative Mind Monster.

 

Creative Mind Monster How to Understand  Share Your Creativity

A self portrait of my mind monster at the time.

 

I was lucky, I had what I would call a “woke” therapist. Part of me wishes I saw her when I was a toddler, I think she would have helped me come to terms and living harmoniously with my Creative Mind Monster quicker than it took me to figure out what it was.

I remember in my early twenties sitting on her couch and trying to explain to her how there was this part of me that I had felt I silenced so I could be seen as “normal”. However, the irony is that since I silenced it I felt that I was an empty vessel with no purpose, going through the motions of trying to fit in. My depression had hit an all-time low and I felt I no longer existed.

She asked me to describe a time a created something with no purpose but just to get it out of me. I told her about one of my many movie ideas I came up with in high school, that I have told no one about. I told her the world, the characters, the story. I lost in telling her this tale and she was intrigued by it. When I had finished I had the biggest smile on my face, she asked me “how do you feel right now?”. Sad. “Sad?” I was sad because it was like I just reconnected with a best friend who knows me the most, down to my darkest of thoughts, to my happiest of memories. My best friend doesn’t judge the things I’ve done, what I feel embarrassed by or my inner demons because this friend is the most positive influence I can ever have. This friend wants to take all parts of me and turn those things into something creative, and it will never judge me for it.

My therapist told me of how she empathizes with creatives because we see something in our mind and it’s almost impossible to describe to a non-creative type as you can plainly and tangibly see something that doesn’t exist yet. How can you even start to explain that to someone, you can’t, though I’m sure many of you, like myself, have tried. When I have tried to explain my early stages of projects to people I have been met with criticism; they “can’t see it working”, “it won’t work”, or the worst, they add their two cents, “you know what you should do...”. It’s the reason most creative keep hush about things they are working on till it is finished, or the reason why some of you, and you know who you are, procrastinate on finishing a project or seeing it through, we are afraid of the criticism, opinions, comments, suggestions or judgment.

 

Creative Mind Monster How to Understand  Share Your Creativity

 

Living with your Creative Mind Monster

You have to let it go. Once you and your Creative Mind Monster have made something before you release it to the world and show others you need to remember a few things:

It was exactly how it was meant to be completed at this point with your current skills, emotional capacity, budget and time. Don’t question your work with “what ifs”

You and your Creative Mind Monster will never judge yourself. You may judge the work, perhaps later you look at ways you can grow for the next project but, you, have no judgement on you. A project does not define you... as we all know, the next project might be a complete 180 from what you have just finished. You have honoured your purpose. Regardless of people’s commentary, you have to be proud. If people love it, great, if people don’t love it, even better! You have been the person to help someone understand something more about themselves, even if that means they don’t enjoy this particular project from you. It’s the greatest gift you can give them.

Remember the feeling, the euphoria you had when you completed your project. One of my fondest memories is the feeling I felt when I completed a script, even that “shitty first draft”. Being by myself in the library, or by myself backstage after a show. The adrenaline that would hit my system, along with a profound sense of value and self-worth. Hold onto that. That is priceless.

 

Creative Mind Monster How to Understand  Share Your Creativity

Still from short film: "Reality Check"

What is a Creative Mind Monster

Some people call it their “creativity” or their “creative side”, some artist calls it their alter ego or “the other part of themselves”. I believe my Monster, found those terms uninspiring and wanted to be more versatile. I would love to say I came up with the term “Creative Mind Monster” but the more I think about it, the more I think it did.

Sometimes my Monster is female, sometimes male. Sometimes it’s an ‘it’ with fur and teeth, sometimes it's the sweetest mouse. It takes on its form in the ways it needs to, to help me in my creative projects. Perhaps your Monster goes by another name, call it what works for you, but make sure you do call on it. Take it with you everywhere. Let it be your best friend. And if it becomes overwhelming or unmanageable talk to a professional about it.

Like all relationships, it takes work.

Some last words from my Creative Mind Monster: “Don’t be afraid of your creative language, the people it was meant for will understand and connect with it”.

 

About Annisa Belonogoff

Producer Director Writer Actor You Can Do it All but Should You

Emerging writer, actor and comedian, Annisa Belonogoff, has made a splash in film, onstage and in Sydney stand-up scene. With sold-out solo shows at the 2019 Sydney Comedy Festival, Annisa recently toured her show, which she both wrote and directed, "Dear Future Ex-Husbands", to Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide. She studied screen acting at NIDA, and has had the privilege on working onset with feature films such as Wish You Were Here and Thor: Ragnarok. Annisa wrote, performed, and produced an two award-winning short films (Reality Check and Face Forward) delving into modern dating life. Her current writing projects include, Teacher’s Playground, is a nostalgic comedic song to her rural upbringing in Emerald, Queensland. Not Russian Anywhere, a funny because it’s true story of a young Russian-Australian women learning to deal with her very Russian family, (another ode to her upbringing and family). The Estate, a psychological thriller which questions who we trust and joint writing collaboration sci-fi action adventure, Dearth.

 

Previous Stage 32 Blogs by Annisa:

Producer/Director/Writer/Actor: You Can Do it All, But Should You?

 

 


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Let's hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Got an idea for a post? Or have you collaborated with Stage 32 members to create a project? We'd love to hear about it. Email Taylor at taylor@stage32.com and let's get your post published!

Please help support your fellow Stage 32ers by sharing this on social. Check out the social media buttons at the top to share on Instagram @stage32 , Twitter @stage32 , Facebook @stage32 , and LinkedIn @stage-32 .

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