Sexuality and creativity, hand in hand?

No pun intended. Well maybe.

One afternoon I was clicking away on my laptop, working on my novel chuckling as my character was having an emotional mini-drama, when I felt a wave of, well…arousal.

Not thinking too much of it, I shoved the sensation out of my mind and concentrated on my deadline for the day. The next morning, the same thing happened when I reached twelve hundred-words, and the day after and so forth. Slightly befuddled, I grinned and immediately rang my good friend to share my amusement. Perhaps she could shed some light on my writing exotica since she was an artist and spent countless hours locked away in a room creating masterpieces.

“Oh gosh, yes! It happens all the time.”

“Everyday?” I was curious now.

“Yep!” She exclaimed happily. “I’ve read somewhere that creative people, especially artists and poets have a higher number of sexual partners than people that are less creative.”

Although I wasn’t quite ready for the revelation of what she did with her paintbrushes and extra canvas, my mind raced, wondering about the correlation of sexual energy and the creative manifestations of my written words. It was almost like a sensual sorcery that was kept on a short leash when I wasn’t in creative flow. I pondered if most artistic people had similar arousing experiences. The possibility of being an unflinching maven, a proponent of the self-induced creative orgasm was rather arousing. In laymen’s terms,* I was a willing and courageous connoisseur** of the practice of an afternoon act that was once called ‘self-abuse’ in Michelangelo’s time.  Today, this delicious pastime would hardly be given that reference anymore and it certainly didn’t stop Michelangelo either.


The more expressive folk I asked, the more nods and blushes I received, along with some high fives, as if some exotic artsy secret had revealed itself to me because I was very present during a process of innovative flow.

“For myself, it’s a high around one pm, a rush of adrenaline half-way through a chapter and then I feel this need for relief.” Without further prompting, my friend and fellow writer, Jenna*** continued. “I have a goody drawer and usually reach for the pink pearl bunn…”

“Stop!” I waved my hand in the air protesting. She ignored me and very animatedly described her creative process over lunch, making me rethink my order of crème caramel that was on it’s way and to make a mental note never to call her at one pm.


I wondered how many other writers there were that had their hands in their pants? I found out that Flaubert and Balzac were perpetually stuffing theirs in naughty places. Flaubert, despite his renouncement of masturbation in 1844 gave himself a hand four years later while writing a novel he was struggling with. Balzac excited himself, stopping at the brink of oblivion and never completed the task, possibly in fear of depleting his creative energy all together. George Simenon, a Belgian novelist went for the home run every single day, it was rumoured that he had sex way more than he actually wrote, bedding four different women un jour. Apparently, that method proved to be effective because he was considered one of the most prolific writers of the twentieth century, spinning out over two hundred novels amongst other written works.


Perhaps one of my most favorite quotes is that of Mark Twain’s on masturbation where he states that ‘Homer, in the second book of the Iliad says with fine enthusiasm, Give me masturbation or give me death.’

Sexual energy seems to be congruent with creativity because whenever one creates they form a new life. For myself, that birth is in the form of a book, blog, a short story or some sort of promising prose. The process satiates an impetuous ardor or élan vital that overtakes me while I’m completely engrossed in the subject matter.  The excitement builds, reaching a peak where I almost forgo coffee breaks for other types of breaks. I’m not even remotely ashamed because I’d like to think I’m in pretty good company. Some days I’m a little like Flaubert and other days I’m like Balzac and every day, I’m in complete agreement with Robinson Crusoe.****




*Forgive the pun again; I truly could not help myself.

** And here I thought I had always been a flirt aficionado.

*** ‘Jenna’ would be beyond mortified if I so much as spelt the first three letters of her real name.

****See quote below.


“Homer, in the second book of the Iliad says with fine enthusiasm, “Give me masturbation or give me death.” Caesar, in his Commentaries, says, “To the lonely it is company; to the forsaken it is a friend; to the aged and to the impotent it is a benefactor. They that are penniless are yet rich, in that they still have this majestic diversion.” In another place this experienced observer has said, “There are times when I prefer it to sodomy.” Robinson Crusoe says, “I cannot describe what I owe to this gentle art.” Queen Elizabeth said, “It is the bulwark of virginity.” Cetewayo, the Zulu hero, remarked, “A jerk in the hand is worth two in the bush.” The immortal Franklin has said, “Masturbation is the best policy.” Michelangelo and all of the other old masters–“old masters,” I will remark, is an abbreviation, a contraction–have used similar language. Michelangelo said to Pope Julius II, “Self-negation is noble, self-culture beneficent, self-possession is manly, but to the truly great and inspiring soul they are poor and tame compared with self-abuse.” Mr. Brown, here, in one of his latest and most graceful poems, refers to it in an eloquent line which is destined to live to the end of time–“None knows it but to love it; none name it but to praise.”

– Mark Twain, On Masturbation.


All photos by Minelle Mir for Maison Minelle