It's been an interesting process navigating creativity in this new paradigm. From speaking to a range of mates, our collective experiences vary greatly. Some feel a real drive to craft at the moment; as a distraction from feeling too much, as a way of managing their mental health, as a positive approach to support others or as a way to keep their income steady through an innovative online programme. Others are curled up in a ball on the floor; recovering for the first time in years from running on empty or sobbing in anxiety as they consider their bank account and family members. There is one commonality between all my pals. The pressure they feel to keep churning out content or even double it online, as society is now spending much more time glued to their screens. It seems like both a golden opportunity and a dangerous succubus.
The whole scenario makes me consider where the pull to create initially comes from. A bizarre idea from nowhere descending into your mind that you urgently type into your notes on your phone? Something in nature so striking, you grab your camera and capture it? Scrawling fiery words into your journal? Opening the piano again to tinker on the keys? Singing in the shower some made up melody? Moving your body to shake off the encounter you just had? Thinking about a joke that you know will make your mate piss themselves?
For me, creativity comes from a feeling or an inner knowing that you don't have the ordinary vocabulary to express. And recently, the most imaginative and honest work I have created has come from a place of stillness and quiet.
Now the reason I mention all of this in the first place, is to question just how much we convert the word creativity into content and forget about the creator. The alarming pressure pre-Covid19 to mill out innovative and hilarious ideas as a brand was already sky high. Over the past 10 years, as our attention spans shrank and our addiction to social media increased, companies studied how they could harness our attention amidst the millions of voices across the field of marketing BS. And now people want new content all of the time. If you read the last book by your favourite author, when is the new one coming out? When is the new album dropping? When is the new series going to launch? When are you going to post a new snap Camila?
We want new new new now now now.
Phew. Take a breath gang. I say this in empathy with my mates who feel obliged to make a video a day whilst suffering behind the scenes with huge bouts of fear and self-loathing. Think about the writers who are bricking it as they plan their next book without a break to have any experiences to write about.
Creativity takes time.
And as an individual, you deserve and have the absolute right to take time for yourself, so you have the head/heart/soul space to whisk some magic up. Don't give in to the relentless pull to be switched onto pushworkdo 100% of the time. Burn out and trashing the planet and others for the sake of 'progress' and 'reaching a bigger target audience' is madness. That's how we got ourselves into this collective mess. I believe when we think about creation as a way to sell to or impress others, part of the heart and authenticity of our work is diminished. You could end up presenting your new dance piece entitled 'The Lion, The Witch and Covid-19'. And that would be a disaster... (Sounds like an Edinburgh Fringe 2021 show. Copyright Jen Carss)
Don't read this the wrong way. Creating for other people's benefit is SO important. It allows people to see themselves reflected back in a bold and visceral way. It makes us feel less alone. For goodness sake, it's the whole point of Queerious. Afterall, without an audience there is no play, only a rehearsal. Creativity is an act of service.
But my question is this. Without this audience, would you still be finding ways to be privately creative? When was the last time you made something just for you?
Honestly, racking my brains the last time I did something solely for myself creatively was when I cooked a delicious meal without a recipe. That was around a month ago. Before that, I can't even remember. Everything has always been with the goal to serve or get attention to the platform which stirs an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach.
I want to get creative for me. If it doesn't get uploaded onto Instagram or sent on whatsapp, is it still valuable? Is it still something to be proud of?
[YES!! PUTTING IT ON INSTAGRAM DOES NOT GIVE IT MORE VALUE! IT GIVES IT MORE VIEWS AND THAT'S AWESOME, BUT IS THAT WHY YOU MADE IT? IF SO TELL ME WHY AND THEN I'LL STOP SHOUTING!]
I remember a tutor once telling our class that when you have a joyous inner secret, it shines through your chest like a diamond and people will want to know what it is. I didn't know what the hell he was talking about at the time- I thought he was bonkers (he was). But his phrase popped into my mind just now, as I lean against my bedroom wall and pull my thoughts together.
When you are topped up full of love, self-care, breath and present moment, creativity and new ideas flow to you with relative ease. And in those moments you end up creating something just for you, without considering anyone elses journey. That feeling of free-flow fun when time doesn't feel real and you are in the swing of something magic. You are creating for the fun of it, not for the end outcome. And the creativity comes from the creator. Have you noticed how hard it is to come up with new ideas when you are in a state of anxiety and urgency? You can't evolve your artistry or ideas if your creative cup is half full and you are depleting it by making Youtube video #2813 and hoping @wendymassivearsecrack likes it.
Fill up your cup. Take time and do something just for you. I understand if the current financial climate mean you have to consistently reel stuff out. I respect you and take my hat off to you for finding the dog eared determination to make things work. But please find the time to have magic moments just for you too. A bath and making a beard with the bubbles is creative. No one needs to see it on Insta for it to be real. Remember that.
These platforms are a tool, not a IV drip for your creative heart.
When you have enough love and creativity to spill over to others, can you authentically serve and pour over others cups too. Talking of cups I'm thirsty. I might invent a new non-alcoholic cocktail. I'll pop it on Insta in a bit... #pineapplegingerblend