Stress: Inducing Brilliance
Massive amounts of stress, coupled with confinement were the catalysts that caused Anne Frank to reach her full literary potential at such a young age.
Anne Frank was trapped. Stuck in an annex, hiding to stay alive, yet slowly being driven to sickness and depression with no cure in sight. The amount of time that she and the other annex residents were going to spend in hiding was unknown to them. They holed themselves up to hide from “certain death,” only to realize that they holed themselves up for “uncertain, ever looming, slippery as a snake” death that could come knocking at any moment. One creak of a floor board could mean the end. They were stuck in a situation that could be compared to walking barefoot through a minefield of broken glass 24 hours a day; one false move and they could slice open their feet, be heard, get caught, and meet Death.
When most people endure this kind of stressful, high pressure level of confinement, and anxiety, many who do not have an outlet for their pain and fear could go mad; But Anne Frank had an outlet. Anne Frank had a diary that began as a simple “Friend,” someone to make her feel like someone in the world connected to, and understood her. She without realizing had started the project of journaling about her life, and then, months in, came to realize that what she had in her hands was pure gold; any writer’s dream material. Anne was surrounded by a situation so rare, and fascinating that it was sure to be material that people would want to read. She became more aware of how important her diary was now, and began funneling her creative powers into editing, and dare I say “shaping” her once innocent diary into a piece of art with a voice and structure to her writing that flowed seamlessly, chronicling the everyday life of those struggling to survive in the Annex.
Many creative people flourish within environments fueled by the ever shifting sandbags of stress, and impending deadlines. These conditions cause them to constantly produce work of high quality, and even have strokes of genius within their creative endeavours. We see it in writers, struggling to meet deadlines for their book, needing to be sent out for publication; we see it in artists, pushing themselves to the brink, staying up all hours of the night to finish the paintings for a gallery exhibit a week away; we see it in Anne, a girl with no deadline, no date to work up to, no certain day of stress relief on the horizon. She was an artist with enough stress for 20 people, the constant loom of certain death, and a creative mission that became her “lifeboat”. This framework became the catalyst that induced Annes brilliant literary mind power to magnify and help her to undergo the project of writing, editing, and intelligently shaping her Diary into what we (generally) know it as today.
Within the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, It has been said that if you spend 10,000 hours doing anything, you can become an expert in it. If we apply his concept to what we can assume Annes work schedule in the annex was, we can make a relatively educated guess that from the start of her writing in her diary on June 12 1942, to August 3rd (the day before the annex was discovered) Anne had been keeping a diary for 753 days, which translates into 18072 hours. Knowing the amount of time Anne had to edit, and write in her diary, it can be safe to say that by the time she had made a conscious decision to publish her diary in late March 1944, she had already spent 10,000 hours just writing alone, and once she kicked herself into over drive, and began editing, rewriting, and engrossing herself fully into her work, the high level of intensity and stress caused her skill set to mature far rapidly that an average 15 year olds writing level at this time.
Each and everyone of us is sensitive to extremities. It is trauma, and unfortunate circumstances that often time shape and educate us in ways school never could. Author Malcolm Gladwell also states in an interview that ” we learn more from extreme circumstances than anything else; disasters tell us something about the way we think and behave that we can’t learn from ordinary life…It’s those who lie outside ordinary experience who have the most to teach us.” This Statement alone, gives readers a touch of insight into why Anne’s Diary became something so thoroughly appreciated, and sought after.
By the end of March 1944 Anne knew that the diary was her one shot at becoming a writer, she could no longer look towards the future and hope that becoming a writer was a future goal; she must become a writer now. She had in her possession quite possibly the greatest writing material ever found, she felt the pressure and responsibility to tell this story, to share her voice with the world.