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Digital Subscriptions > Psychologies > No. 140 Get More Organised > MYTH OF THE MUDDLED GENIUS


Surrounded by ‘creative chaos’? Former musician and singer, Sheila Chandra, knows the feeling. But, she asks, what if becoming more organised could help you flourish in your artistic field?

The household I grew up in was chaotic. By the time I was 16, I had a top-10 hit and, by the age of 27 in the 1990s, an international career as a ‘groundbreaking’ artist in the Asian-influenced world-fusion genre. As a performer, I had a highly creative approach to my music, ignoring trends and trying instead to define the boundaries of world music and my own voice. But those old chaotic habits I learned as a child were entrenched in every area of my life. My house always looked like a bomb site. I worked 16-hour days, often seven days a week.


Even if you weren’t raised in a messy home, the chances are that you were fed the ‘untidy creative’ myth; the trope of the ‘artist genius’ – dysfunctional and living in squalor, yet contributing to the world with your talent. Because of this idea, many creative people don’t even think about how to approach their creative pursuits in an organised and efficient way, nor how this could benefit them. And, if they do, they often don’t believe they can achieve it. We worry about inspiration and making space for our best ideas to strike.

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