“Among the creative professions, it’s very, very common,” says comedy producer and performer John Lloyd, who made the TV series QI and Blackadder.
“There’s a very, very high incidence of bipolar disorder. It’s because stable people think the world’s fine as it is. They don’t see any particular need to change it.
"Creative people don’t feel like that. People who want to change the world tend to suffer a lot for it.”
And for me, at this point, I think it much more interesting for me to look at something and know that I can play it, but not know how, rather than to look at something and go, ‘Ah, I can do that.’ And then just do it.
“I once read about a scientific institute which had studied the male erection,” Davies said. “It divided the hard-on into four categories, from soft to hard.
"One, tofu. Two, peeled banana. Three, banana. And four, cucumber. Right there and then I knew I had my drama.”
The novelist Robin Sloan offers a wise middle way, borrowing a concept from share trading, which he applies to writing, but which seems relevant for many modern careers. Think about your work, he suggests, as divided into “stock” and “flow”. Flow is day-to-day, high-visibility stuff: putting yourself out there, networking at conferences, Twitter and LinkedIn, reminding the world you exist. Stock is substantive, long-term work that lasts – in Sloan’s case, his books. “I feel like we all got really good at flow, really fast,” he writes. “But flow is ephemeral. Stock sticks around. Stock is capital. Stock is protein.”
The biggest mistake we make is trying to square the way we feel about something today with the way we felt about it yesterday. You shouldn’t even bother doing it. You should just figure out the way you feel today and if it happens to comply with what you thought before, fine. If it contradicts it, whatever. Life goes on.
The famous basketball coach John Wooden used to always say: “Be quick but don’t hurry.” Which is perfect writing advice.