Do you need trauma to have talent?

Creativity is a strange beast.

I declare myself regularly to be very lacking in creativity, but I suppose it all depends on what you define as creativity. I can’t draw, paint, act or play an instrument. These are the things that I would consider creative- they are visual or auditory and require talent.

However, I have been told that I am creative in my writing. So I suppose I am creative in that way. I also like to take photos when I travel- a visual medium- and believe myself to be somewhat talented at it after some years of practice.

When you think of the truly creative famous talented individuals, they always seem to have risen to the top following some hardship. They had a hard upbringing, were poor or went through a horrific ordeal.

Which brings me to the question- do you need to have trauma to have talent?

J.K. Rowling’s mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when she was 15 and she was afraid of her father. When Charlize Theron was a teenager she saw her mother shoot her father in self-defence.

Will I never be truly talented because I have parents that are still married after more than 40 years who provided me with a stable childhood home?

However, everyone suffers their own personal trauma to some degree and deals with it in their own way. Lady Gaga was bullied as a child and Gwyneth Paltrow sites here father’s death as a time of struggle.  Perhaps not as damaging as seeing your parents shoot each other, but still trauma none the less.

Surfer Bethany Hamilton survived a shark attack when she was 13. She went on to become a professional surfer, compete on the Amazing Race and write many books.

Closer to home, I think almost most Australians remember the story of Stuart Diver who was the sole survivor of the 1997 Thredbo landslide. His wife died in the tragedy; however his book about the incident was turned into a TV movie.

Will I not be a published author until some horrible accident befalls me that I survive? What a terrible thought!

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18 thoughts on “Do you need trauma to have talent?”

  1. I think everyone is or can be creative. We just sometimes sell ourselves short by thinking creativity applies only to certain things. A cook preparing a balanced and pleasing meal, a beautiful garden, a welcoming home, a well-organized party, unique approaches to communicate with a troubled child – these are all examples of creativity. I believe creativity can be nurtured and developed. The more we allow ourselves to be creative and recognize ourselves as creative people, the more creativity spills into our areas of our lives. And no, I don’t think one needs to experience great trauma to become creative. One needs to have an open mind and be willing to look at things differently.

    1. You make a good point Donna. It’s all about how each individual expresses their creativity. And an open mind is always key!

  2. No, I do not feel you have to experience great trauma in order to write. Regardless of how ‘together’ your life may be, you still have personal experiences. They are no less valid than another persons.

  3. I would answer “no” to your question as you pose it. But let us ask a related question: “Is it more likely that you will create something interesting or groundbreaking if you have experienced trauma in your life?” In this case I would say “yes”.

  4. I think that the trauma turns you inward examining everything inside. That’s when you discover more courage than you thought you had or more creativity. Maybe the trauma allows you a twist on creativity that you would otherwise not have allowed.

  5. For many years I believed I had no musical talent and then I took lessons on the harmonica as my love of Blues grew. It quickly became apparent that I had at least an inkling of talent. I practiced and got half decent then stopped. It wasn’t a lack of talent that prevented me from chasing perfection but rather a lack of desire.

  6. I think you ask a good question. I’m not sure that you have to have trauma to have creativity. I do know creativity can come from trauma but what about just having experiences in life. We all have some type of trauma that happens not necessarily you upbringing but it could be anything that happened in life. I believe the more you experience in life good or bad adds to your creativity if you are open to it. Great post Roshan!

  7. Interesting concept you have made. Does hardship build character, and character drives to success. We all know the success stories of those who have overcome trauma, but what about those that fail. We do not hear their stories. We should paraphrase Nietzsche, that which makes us stronger, only if it does not destroy us first.

  8. To an extent, I think we just hear more about traumatized creative types more than we do about generally normal folks who just happen to have awesome imaginations. I have had plenty of trauma in my life, but I don’t think that is necessarily what has led me down a creative path.

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