This past weekend I drove up the coast with a friend for a spot of whale watching. As we looked out over the Pacific Ocean our conversation veered towards our current creative projects – writing for her and visual arts for me – and our respective creative processes.
As we chatted it became clear that we are both feeling a little stuck as we have been creating with an audience in mind. For her this is thanks to the emphasis on workshopping manuscripts in the writing world and for me sharing my artwork with on-line communities.
The problem with the sharing trend is that it keeps us overly concerned on how our creative work is received, rather than being open to create whatever needs to come through. By constantly comparing ourselves to others and wondering if our work is good enough, we cut ourselves off from our authentic creative self. Also, to be honest, not all our creative work is fit for public consumption.
It made me wonder if this is a trend for all creatives?
I suspect it is with social networking sharing and reality TV on the rise. It is almost as if we expect every detail of our life to be in front of a live audience – critiquing our every move.
My concern is this emphasis on sharing is undercutting our natural creativity outputs. We need to create a lot of mediocre work before getting to our most authentic creations.
And nobody wants to be judged by their blah creations, right?
Ira Glass of This American Life explains this far more eloquently than I in this piece:
I want to encourage you to create more and judge less.
Make bad art. Sing out of tune. Write poetry riddled with clichés. Dance with two left feet.
Create like no-one is watching.
Create for you.
Create to feel alive.
Create to get it out.
Create to connect to the divine.
Create, and then create some more.
Your best work is yet to come. I promise.