What is the point of creativity? Maybe you’ve started out on a creative endeavour. You’ve started to create something you love, and there’s been some momentum. You’ve had some encouragement, you’ve started to dream about where this could go. Bravely you’ve taken steps forward. But then…
All the doubts, the desire for something bigger has taken over. The pressure, the questions, the constant creative circle of create – share – dream – doubt. I know this because I too have been there. Actually, I’m here more often than I am not. I too am in that circle of creating and sharing and I want to encourage you and show up for you and say we are in this together, I am figuring this out too.
In this connected world, there is a lot of noise and challenge for the creative, whilst it’s great; we can share, get feedback, celebrate other’s wins, grow something, connect more widely, it brings with it all the things comparison stirs in us. The beauty of our creativity is that there is so much of it, we are surrounded by people coming fully alive to the creative being they are designed to be and it’s amazing, people are amazing…. and yet…. We look around and then we look at ourselves and pause. I don’t think there is anyone who doesn’t do this. Even that person you think is grounded and talented and has a large audience, they still suffer the same comparison syndrome, they still have to question their motive of why they create.
We ask, what is the point? What do I have to add? What have I achieved? These are tough questions to answer. But may I gently suggest that they are the wrong questions.
Perhaps, you and I, we need to ask, WHY? What if we start at the beginning and ask why? Why do I create? May I suggest some answers that you may think answer why you create, and yet can serve to send you off down a distorted path?
Do you create because you want attention?
Is it because you want attention? Ouch, I’ve felt the warmth of approval of the number of hearts on an Instagram photo. I know. This can not be my why. This is not why I create, because I know I am fickle, and well, if I am fickle, aren’t we all fickle? Attention or fame is not what it is made out to be. How many likes or hearts will satisfy my desire for attention? Is this the reason I create? Pretty soon, the heart of my creativity will die. I will lose myself to creating for the masses. If I create only to capture others likes I will lose my own heart eventually. I will not know what makes me come alive. This is the tension, we want to sustain our creativity, we want to share, we want numbers because we think it means more freedom, but it is a trap. If we can’t stay authentic and true something inside our soul will die.
“The human soul was not made for fame” Al Andrews
Do you create because you want to earn money from it?
I know this, as someone who has worked in the creative industry for over a decade, this will not truly satisfy your creative soul. Most of us need to earn a living and if we can do it by being creative that is a good thing. But believe me when I say soon you will have doubts, don’t think that you won’t have to deal with everything else involved in creating a business. Soon you will start to question am I just creating for the money? Am I losing my creative soul as I create for whoever is paying the bill? There will be more questions and doubts and struggles and ideas of selling out and worth and value and compromise. It will take hard work and many things you may not want to do to satisfy the brief and bring in the income. It can’t be the only reason we create.
Perhaps there is a better “why”
May I suggest that there is a solution to this. This is how I deal with the doubt and the vulnerability hangovers. Asking yourself, reminding yourself of this one question will bring you back to the start. This will be the best, most authentic, one question that will keep you grounded. It will keep you connected to your soul. Your “why you create” could be because you love it and you can’t not create. Because you come alive sensing the joy in your soul knowing that this life-living is the point. This is what you were made to do, this is where you feel most alive, this is what truly satisfies your soul, to notice the beauty, to see the good, to create because this. is. who. you. are. If we start here we can not lose. No one can take this from you. No one can give attention or pay you to do this that will make it worth any more to you.
This is the place of authentic creativity.
You are made in the image of the Creator, and in your imaging of him, you create. This is worthy of God, this is your worth-ship. Following the inner call of your soul, that he placed in you, to create beauty and truth. Your creativity is a gift to God and to the world. Holding in outstretched palms your offering with the statement; look what I made. Look what God made me create. This offering has something of God in it. Look at what it tells you, draws you to, reveals in its beauty, in its life.
“Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on behalf of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat ud of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.” Steven Pressfield, ‘The War of Art’
The other questions are secondary and if you are called down those other paths you will figure it out one small step, a day at a time. But if you daily start from here, from this place of: “because I am creative” and forget the secondary questions, your soul can breathe. In the end, it is your soul that lasts. All the other things will fade away.
For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world (attention, money, power) but loses his soul?