Having worked as a creativity coach for thirty-five years and having written at least a score of books on the subject of the creative life, I take a special interest in the challenges that smart, sensitive, creative people face.

Two of my books in this area are Why Smart People Hurt (recently reissued as a Books That Save Lives title called Why Smart, Creative and Highly Sensitive People Hurt) and Why Smart Teens Hurt.

I’m also very interested in the power of journaling and reflective writing and the place of journaling in the coaching process. Two of my books in this area (books that I co-edited with Lynda Monk) are Transformational Journaling for Coaches, Therapists and Clients and The Great Book of Journaling.

In this series of posts, I’d like to put these two ideas together—the idea that smart, creative, sensitive individuals are confronted by special challenges and the idea that journaling is a valuable self-help tool—and provide you with journaling prompts designed to lead you on a personal journey of discovery.

In today’s post, I’ll share five characteristic challenges and four journal prompts that go with each challenge. Engaging with any prompt is likely to prove valuable. Please enjoy!

  1. It can prove challenging (and feel painful) if you feel yourself intelligent but not particularly creative or creative but not particularly intelligent.

+ Do you feel smart but not particularly creative? How has this dynamic played itself out in your life?

+ Do you feel creative but not quite smart enough to really manifest your creativity? Has that gotten you stuck in a painful place?

+ What do you see as the difference between creativity and intelligence? Are they the same thing? Or very different things?

+ Picture yourself as smart and as creative as you might want to be. What might help you achieve such a marriage?

  1. Most cultures devalue—and often despise—intelligence, creativity, and “anyone different.” This has been historically true and remains true today.

+ Have you found your intelligence being ridiculed, even in your own family? What have been the consequences of that ridiculing?

+ What does it feel like living in an anti-intellectual culture?

+ Have you tried to find “your tribe” of like-minded creative and intelligent people? How has that search panned out?

+ Why do you suppose that the majority of people in every culture and in every time period despise intelligence?

  1. Very often, anxiety gets in the way of a smart, creative, sensitive person manifesting his or her potential. If anything, this challenge is worsening as we face more things to be anxious about.

+ Is anxiety preventing you from manifesting your smarts and your creative nature? If so, what might help change that picture?

+ If you find yourself easily distracted and unable to stick with your intellectual or creative work, might that be anxiety at play, rather than a feature of a “mental disorder” like ADHD or ADD?

+ Anxiety manifests in all sorts of ways, from panic attacks to confusion, from headaches to stomachaches. Do you have a sense of how it manifests for you?

+ Picture yourself working on a creative or intellectual project while peaceful, calm, and without anxiety. What would that look like?

  1. Very often smart, creative people can’t find work that matches their abilities and so they end up working at jobs that tax them, bore them, and fail to fulfill them.

+ Have you managed to find creative or intellectual work that both fulfills you and pays the bills?

+ Are you trapped in a corner of a field or in a job that is hardly making use of your talents? Can you envision an exit strategy?

+ Do you have a calling that you aren’t pursuing? Is it possible to pursue it at least part-time?

+ What would your ideal job, career, or work life look like?

  1. Society tends to rob its members of their imaginative capabilities by demanding that they follow the rules and draw within the lines.

+ Are you as imaginative as you might be? If not, how might you reacquire your native ability to imagine?

+ When did you “really imagine”? What was that experience like?

+ Can you remember a moment when your imagination was stifled? What was that experience like?

+ Can you envision a creative or intellectual project that would really wake up your imagination?

I hope that you benefit from these prompts and enjoy journaling to them. You can always reach me at ericmaisel@hotmail.com with any thoughts or questions.

Share This