Brief Thoughts on Creativity

I’ve been putting it off for a while because “I didn’t know how to do it,” but I started learning how to make music 6 months ago.  You see, I really like to rap and thought it would be fun to make some rap music.  I sort of knew how to write lyrics, but had no idea how to make the music.

So, like anyone, I started screwing around with GarageBand to make some beats.  They sucked, but they got better over time.  After a while, I transitioned into actually make rap songs.  They suck, but they got better over time as well (they still suck).

Regardless of how subjectively good or bad each piece is, I still find great joy in creating something out of nothing — something that was once an intangible idea has been brought into this tangible world by my actions.  And even though my work is very much not on par with professional recordings, it is still extremely satisfying looking into my private digital archives to see the improvements I’ve made over time.  I used to draw as well, and similarly, my old drawings suck and the more I drew, the better I got.  Unfortunately, they were in paper format and most of it is lost.  We live in a digital age now and if you’re wanting to make stuff, I’d suggest backing them up in the cloud.

And, also, when you are doing these creative things for fun, the results simply do not matter.  If you like it and you do it enough, you will naturally get better.  There is nothing at stake when you create something for fun.  In addition, when doing something creative, you can do no wrong.  While people claim that there is “good” and “bad” music, it is all simply a matter of taste, and as long as you like your own works, nothing else matters.  In fact, what is even music?  Simply contemplate the difference between music and noise and you will find that it’s all an illusion.

Similarly, there is no such thing as someone who isn’t creative.  The act of playing keys on a keyboard is already creating music, and the act of moving a pencil is already creating a drawing.  Sure, the music or the drawing might suck, but the quality of a piece of art merely corresponds to skill and not so much creativity.  If one compliments you and says “wow, you are very creative,” you would take that to mean your work is of high quality.  In that case, creativity is just a work ethic and not something you’re born with.

One thing cool about producing art is that you learn to be vulnerable.  “The Power of Vulnerability” by Brené Brown talked about how most adults don’t make stuff because they’ve been traumatized in the past when they tried to be creative.  This mostly includes abusive teachers telling the class how much their particular painting sucks or whatever. This trauma makes people not want to make things because nobody wants to relive that shit.  But unlike the classroom situation, we are not obliged to share things we make.  So why not make some stuff for fun for your own entertainment?  Because we now also fear that we’ll make something we ourselves don’t like.  If I spend 50 hours making a recording I’m unhappy with, it is a bummer.  However, nobody is born good and everybody has to suck for a minute before they get good.  So in the case where your work sucks, you just need to improve.

“But how do I improve?”  By sharing your suck ass work and asking for critique, of course.

Here is where you have to make the choice to detach your ego from your work.  You must realize who you are as a person is completely independent of the work you produce.  This isn’t only for creative endeavors but for all work in general.  To attach your ego to your work is extremely limiting and prevents growth, so don’t do it.  I mean, think about it, if you just farted in a small room and everyone complained about how shitty your fart smelled, would you be offended?  Of course not, it is just mere flatulence and has nothing to do with you.  You wouldn’t defend yourself and say, “hey no you’re wrong my fart smells good” as that would be a stupid exercise.  Likewise, once you put your shit out there and everybody tells you why it stinks, you can concentrate on the “why” and not on how it stinks.

But regardless of how good or bad your works are right now, give yourself props for at least creating something.  Making something from nothing is a pretty big deal and requires work, not matter how much it sucks.

And since making stuff is fun anyway, you win regardless.  You don’t even need to go through the process of improving the quality of your work if you don’t want to.

Finally, they say “creative” people and mental health are positively correlated.  They found that people who engage in creative works are more often than not mentally healthier than their “non-creative” counterparts.  I forgot where I heard this, but it is probably true so whatever.

I’d say devote some time to making some shit.  If not for your mental health, just as something to do outside your daily grind.  And unlike mind-numbing entertainment, creating things is by nature productive as opposed to consumptive so it is super scalable. You can run out of TV episodes and youtube videos, but you can never run out of things to make.

I personally enjoy music and spend a good amount of time with it, but you can just devote a small amount of time (maybe even just 10 minutes a day) to making some cool shit.

As a side note, I had massive writer’s block for this post because I had 0 ideas on what I’d write about this week.  I procrastinated, but as soon as I made the conscious decision to hunker down and just do it, it got done.

So how good is this article?  It simply does not matter.

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