I don’t always write for other people. In fact, most of what I write never gets seen by anyone’s eyes other than my own. Creativity needn’t always be for display. It can often be deeply personal.
I’ve always found the act of writing things down to be very therapeutic. It’s a way to clear my mind and bring order to my often-scattered thoughts. When asked why I keep a journal, I like to say, ‘So I know what I think!’
I know it’s like that for a lot of people, and not just with writing. For some people, it’s drawing or sketching. For others it’s music. Just tinkling away on a guitar or piano can be a heavenly escape. Same thing for carpentry and crafts, and any other creative endeavour you care to mention.
Point being that making things makes us relax. It takes us out of the frenzy of modern life. I find that time spent writing moves in a different way. It’s slower in the moment – like I can look at things in a slow-motion level of detail. But when I look up, an hour can have gone by in the blink of an eye.
Creativity is escapism and it needn’t be anything more.
But this time of year, the theme of ‘giving’ is in the air and it got me thinking about what happens when you share your creativity with the world.
We just had our Christmas party at the ad agency I work for. As with most of our seasonal shindigs, it had a theme. This year, it was themed as a kind of art exhibition opening and all employees were invited to submit an original work of art of their own creation. This could be anything from a painting or sketch, to a video, a musical piece or sculpture – anything that could be considered ‘art’.
As you might imagine, the creative talent within an ad agency is pretty outstanding. Entries ranged from a sculpture/painting piece that involved hundreds of screws attached at varying heights to a board, their heads painted over to create a three-dimensional image; a hilarious mini-movie about the inner workings of the agency; a musical piece that turned web analytic data into sounds, to capture what a living, breathing website ‘sounded like’ (I know, right?!) The winner was live performance of an original rap to the tune of Eminem’s Lose Yourself that caused all in attendance to become lost in rapturous appreciation. For my part, I wrote a song about how catchy tunes still have great marketing power, called Jingle Sells!
It’s so cool when people share their talents, and that’s what I wanted to say in what will be my first ‘Christmas blog post’.
There’s nothing wrong with creating for creativity’s sake, with no agenda or plan to share the results with others. It’s therapeutic to immerse yourself in a creative endeavour, to get things out that would otherwise well inside. It’s great to just create.
But it’s also an amazing thing when you share your creative wares and get reactions, get feedback, get input. It creates this visceral energy. It is uplifting and encouraging for the creator and can be stimulating, inspiring and motivating for those allowed a peek into your creative world.
A lot of my creative work – the marketing stuff – goes out into the world without my name attached, and I’m genuinely okay with that. I know that when I come up with an idea for an ad campaign, or a cool visual idea, or a catchy tagline, that it is no longer mine. It belongs to those who pay to benefit from my talents, and it’s the same for my coworkers or peers. Our reward is seeing these things come to life and benefit those who allow us to make a living every day from being creative. Pretty much every day, I see something I did on the side of a truck, on a billboard, or on TV, or I hear it on the radio, or see it online – and that is pretty cool.
On the other hand, a lot of the stuff I’ve done on my ‘own time’ has not been seen by many eyes outside of my closest circles. Some of that is because of the healthy, ‘this is for me and me alone’ stuff, but some of it is because of fear. Because this isn’t for someone else who’s paying for it. Because I don’t get to hide behind the brand that will wear it. Because it’s a piece of me going out into the world, and that can be a scary thing. What if people don’t like it?
It’s an affliction many creative people suffer from, myself very much included. So I have made a decision to share more of what I do with the world. To put it out there, even if I don’t feel it’s perfect (because there is no such thing) and let others experience it. To hear the feedback, to feel the energy, to learn and to improve. Hopefully, to stimulate, motivate and inspire in the process. Because when we show ours, we inspire others to show theirs.
That’s my Christmas message, to myself and to all of you: Give your gifts.
Open your Santa’s sack and show the world what ya got.
Wishing you all a wonder-filled holiday season and a 2018 full of creating, loving and sharing.