In occasional fits of despair, I can be found lying face down on the floor grousing about how “I just want to make things, I just want to create something!” You know what? I don’t think that’s entirely true. Furthermore, I think that mentality actually runs counter to being a creative type.
I don’t want to just make things. I also want to read what other people write, I want to see what other people make, and listen to music that other people compose. I do no contain within myself the multitudes of experience that make this world we live in so interesting and complicated, so why do I beat myself up when I have a hard time moving forward in my own creations?
One of my strongest beliefs about the creative process is that constraint can be a great tool, and limitation can really bring out great creative energy. I think I’ve found the other side to that coin. Just as limits of time, budget and recourse can push you to think outside of the box, exploring the vastness of other people’s creative work can drag you so far out of your box that you may never find it again. I frequently bemoan the more harmful effects of the internet, social media in particular, but I cannot deny the value that it has brought to my life in lifting the veil into the lives of others, their ideas of beauty and art that I never would have seen otherwise.
Just making things also moves the focus from quality to quantity. It is very easy for me to first get frustrated with how slowly some projects move as if there’s some unknowable quotient of work that I’m failing to meet. This frustration distracts me from the project that’s right in front of me and focuses my attention on projects that I feel guilty for not having already completed. Having limited time means that I must be able to focus on the task at hand, and do the best I can at the moment. It would be much better to have a few well made pieces than stacks of things that were merely thrown together.
“No,” I tell myself, “I don’t just want to make things. I want to see every good thing this world has to offer, I want to see what my friends are busy making, and I want to give back the best that I can, as I am able.”