It’s easy to fall into an expectations trap as a content creator.
That you must only put out complete works that represent the highest and best form of your abilities.
But that’s not how creativity happens.
Many of my best ideas started as messy unformed phrases years ago.
They picked up substance over years and through experiences that brought them to life.
As a creator, your ideas evolve as you do.
I’ve got a decade worth of notes saved in my phone. I like to read through them for the perspective they offer.
Am I still the same person as I used to be? Have I grown? What have I changed my mind about? Have my beliefs evolved? What believes have I discarded? Has my life stage changed my perspective?
Sharing your work with an audience can deceive you about the true nature of your creative capacity.
I do not create for an audience. I create for myself. Because I must.
Because there are jumbled thoughts and words that must break free; that must fall upon the page first in a disorganized fashion, and then later in a more coherent shape.
Creating anything requires tangling with chaos and attempting that very-near-impossible task of attempting to bring order to it. Even if victory only means bringing order to your own life.
That’s why I create – to unify my thinking so I can better integrate the knowledge I’ve consumed in order that I might apply it to improve my life and the world around me.
It’s sort of a messy process of interacting with ideas, attempting to grasp them, to get to their essence, then regurgitate them into more digestible snippets.
The first drafts are rarely pretty. Even if you sometimes share those with the world.
But you can’t get to the final drafts without those crucial first drafts.
When I spent too much time creating for an audience – rather than for the sheer need to endure the creative process – my work suffers.
The quality may still be high. But if feels artificial. Hollow. Soulless.
Not because there’s not some truth embedded into it. There may be.
But it feels more like performance than expression. More like replication than creation.
Like I’m replicating art, rather than creating it.
I write often about personal and professional development. Not because the world needs another essay on personal and professional development.
But because I need to endure the focused creative process one more time – to sit and contemplate how to live. To grapple with the challenges of existence. To codify my own values in order that I might better live them out.
In that regard, I create because of the change it requires. When creating, change is the price of admission. But creating for an audience only charges matinée prices.
There is no short cut to creating great work – the kind of work that’s worthy of the admiration of an audience.
Do the work because it must be done.