Over the weekend, Facebook was a flutter over a new study from Switzerland. The recently published research suggests that writers have a higher risk of mental illness.
The study by the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden found a link between creative professions and mental illness. Writers in particular are more likely to suffer from psychiatric issues including clinical depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety, and substance abuse. “We’re also nearly twice as likely as the general populace to commit suicide!” exclaimed Media Bistro’s Pandora Young.
Aside from the “no duh” jokes from lots of writers and their friends on social media, many were left asking the obvious question: why?
Lots of anecdotal suggestions were offered by creatives in my social networks: Perhaps the mentally ill are just prone to write; society as a whole judges creativity as a type of mental illness; writing is cathartic so fragile people are more drawn to it as therapy. But by in large, the most common explanation proposed was isolation. Writing is (typically) a solo task, and choosing it as a profession means spending a lot of time by yourself in front of a keyboard. Not to mention that depending on the type of writing, it can be a soul searching process, something that’s always easier with the support of loved ones.
The fact of the matter is, isolation is opposite to our natural inclination. Most of us would never live in isolation, so why work that way?
Here are three reasons why working in isolation can be disastrous for creative professionals:
1. Humans are social creatures. Creatives like the attention and company of our tribe.
2. Creativity doesn’t require isolation. We feed off of the inspiration and challenges of our peers.
3. Self-employed creatives work best when we’re accountable.
So where should we turn when we find ourselves talking to the cat and still in our pajamas at 3 pm? Some people join Meetups, or networking groups, or enlist expensive life coaches to help us stay on track and meet our goals. But if you’re like most creatives, you need a simpler, not more complicated, strategy for success.
Guess what?! Coworking provides all of these things. Coworking spaces are populated by a diversity of creatives. Not only will you meet people who do similar creative work to your own, you’ll meet people who do creative things you’ve never dreamed of! Coworkers LOVE to share stories of failure and success, which is inspiring to the less experienced creative. Coworking spaces are also adept at keeping people accountable. Most creatives who join coworking spaces report higher levels of productivity almost immediately. Sometimes there are actual weekly meetings where members check up on each other’s progress, and in other spaces the accountability is more informal, accomplished between friends.
If you’re feeling isolated (and maybe a little crazy?!) TRY COWORKING. Not only is it more affordable and flexible than other office options for creatives, it comes with a built-in community that’s dedicated to keeping you sane. Get your free day pass here!
Image via opensourceway/Flickr