Writing Thoughts: You can be sane and be an artist, says John Green


You can be sane and still be an artist.

– John Green

It turns out that NerdCon: Stories 2016 was such an awesome convention, and I have so much that I want to tell you about — I discovered authors, books, board games, projects, just so much stuff — but writing hasn’t been my top priority lately as I deal with my personal life, so I thought I’d start small.

Let’s just focus on one part from NerdCon for now — author John Green’s short presentation about creativity and mental illness.

The full NerdCon round-up will now hopefully appear as my Random Writing for October at the end of the month (but a little late, of course), so I can pull together all the stories, complete with links, of my experience there in one nerdy extravaganza.

As you may know, John Green is the popular YA author of several best-selling novels including The Fault in our Stars, Paper Towns, and Looking for Alaska (which are or will be major motion pictures), and also An Abundance of Katherines and Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

I recorded John Green’s entire 8 minute speech, but the video quality isn’t that great because I was quite far away.  However, the audio quality is very clear, I think, if you’d like to give it a listen.  You can also find the full text of his talk posted by John Green himself at My NerdCon Stories Talk about Mental Illness and Creativity.

The important excerpt, and my big takeaway that I wanted to share with you, is this:

Mental illness is stigmatized, but it is also romanticized. If you google the phrase “all artists are,” the first suggestion is “mad.” We hear that genius is next to insanity; we see Carrie Mathison on Homeland going off her meds so that she can discover the identity of the terrorists and save America.

Of course, there are kernels of truth here: Many artists and storytellers do live with mental illness. But many also… don’t. And what I want to say today I guess is that you can be sane and be an artist, and also that if you are sick, getting help — although it is hard and exhausting and inexcusably difficult to access — will not make you less of an artist.

John Green at NerdCon: Stories 2016, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 10/15/16

I think the speech really resonated with me at the time, after what I’ve said recently about possibly going back on medication for my own mental health issues, and even more so today after the very stressful last few weeks I’ve been having.  I don’t believe that my aversion to medication is all about losing my creativity (as heaven knows I haven’t been able to write anything lately anyway), but that might be a small part of it, so it’s definitely worth thinking about again.

I found this lovely artwork to go with the post today called calm, by deviantartist draktau.  She has even more dragons to peruse at her gallery, if you get a chance.


Thanks for reading, everyone.  I’m still scrambling to catch up from the Lost Week, but hopefully you’ll see a lot more dragons uploaded soon.  Take care, and as always, stay creative.

Image credits:
John Green quote created at quozio.com by me
John Green at NerdCon: Stories 2016 video by me

calm by draktau

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