Why Your Creativity Matters by ALI on JANUARY 28, 2010
Often I thought of “creative” people as a special type, often going about their creative work in a special place. Writers in garrets, artists in studios, craftsmen in workshops. And I thought that these people had something magical … some genius spark that let them produce works of art.
But I’ve come to realise that creativity is not some rarefied gift. It’s not alchemy.
To create means producing something which didn’t exist before and which wouldn’t have existed without you. A painting, a blog post, a novel, a piece of jewellery – whatever it is, it’s yours.
To create is to dream, to imagine, to take a part of yourself and to place it in the world.
There is nothing complicated or magical about this. You and I are perfectly capable of it. Creativity is simple, but it’s hard. And yet, it matters. I’m coming to believe that it matters more than almost anything else in this life.
Creating Takes Energy The process of creation takes considerable time and energy – often more than any observer (especially one from a different field) will realise. The creative process does not involve sitting down and painting, writing or composing perfectly from start to end. There is planning, dreaming, wondering, false starts, bad bits, great bits that don’t fit, changed intentions mid-way.
I genuinely love writing, but I can’t keep it up for hours on end. There’s an energy cost in taking my thoughts, turning them into words, and finding the right way to convey them to an audience. If I’ve spent hours writing, it can be hard to string a sentence together afterwards. I can’t speak for other creatives, but I imagine it’s similar.
The energy cost of creativity is one of the reasons that we put off ever creating something. There are so many other easier things to do: watching television, answering emails, reading webcomics, chatting to friends. We do enjoy the process, but we have trouble getting started: there’s a hurdle to cross every single day.
Other People Don’t Get It If you’re surrounded by people who just don’t understand the impulse to create, it can be really difficult to keep up your own energy. I’m lucky that two of the people closest to me – my mum and my fiancé – both do “get” writing. I know a lot of writers who aren’t that lucky, whose spouses or friends or parents can’t understand why it matters.
This is particularly hard when your creative work isn’t paying – and I believe that there is considerable meaning and value to be found whether or not you’re being paid for what you create.
It can be very easy to buy into what the people around you are saying (or implying) and think What’s the point? Why bother?
It Matters For You These words of Charlie Gilkey’s – an aside in a post on How to Lose an Hour’s Creative Mojo in Two Minutes – have stuck with me for weeks:
I’ve worked with people who were physically, emotionally, and mentally sick because they weren’t doing the creative thing that would make them come alive; the fix wasn’t therapy, medication, exercise, or vacations – the fix was them doing their thing, and the rest started to fall in place.
If you have that, whether it’s with writing or composing or painting or anything that makes you come alive, then give yourself permission to do it. If creating something – conceiving it, building it piece by piece and seeing it through to finished – makes you happy, then who the hell is anyone else to say that it’s not worthwhile?
That, your happiness and enjoyment alone, is more than enough reason.
What are you holding back from sharing with the world?
Awright, Ali! Thank you! -idea culture