If you enjoy creativity, the importance of creating things that are just for you may seem obvious. But it’s easy to forget, even if you work in a creative job like me.
Creativity ignites new connections in your brain, and it has been discovered to have a soothing effect, to make people happier and increase curiosity. It is also linked to accelerating emotional and physical healing. And when I’m stressed, my desire to be creative goes up. Writing centres me, and is a form of self-care.
So, in many ways, my creative work is a great outlet for me. My various jobs in editing, communications and writing have allowed me to be challenged and stretched, working with other creative people and thinking about new ideas. Having to meet someone else’s specifications, or write for a specific purpose, means I do creative writing that I might not have done before.
But I’ve found that, while I work creatively during the day, the need to be creative for myself in my own time has increased, not decreased.
While I enjoy being in a creative job, it seems that it’s not all the creativity I need. And I wonder if it’s not always just the creativity that matters.
Your creativity isn’t the only important thing. It’s having an outlet for creativity that’s just to make you happy.
The nature of creative work
I enjoy my workplace. But when I’m creative for a living, it’s necessary that I maintain some distance from what I do.
Creative work needs a level of freedom that’s not always available in workplaces. There are times where what I do may not be what I’m most proud of.
Maybe deadlines are short and there isn’t time for a great idea.
Maybe new, original approaches are seen as too risky.
Maybe I receive a brief and write a great piece that I’m happy with. But then the business process begins. It’s subject to the opinion of managers. Colleagues move words here and there. The brief can change. Legal disclaimers need to be added. Targets need to be met.
It can mean that the work itself gets put through a wringer and comes out very different on the other side. Sometimes it’s improved. Sometimes it’s not.
All of this is the nature of creative work, and it’s not a criticism. Businesses need to function, and creativity is used to serve the business, not the other way around.
But I know that my own creative outlet is important to me. Ideas unfiltered. Creativity that’s just me and what I love.
When work makes my writing more regimented, doing writing for myself allows me the autonomy that creatives crave.
Writing just for myself can also offset the frustration that can come when a creative product I make for work isn’t to the standard I’d like to have. I know that if I lean only on my creative job to fill my creative urge I’ll end up getting disillusioned and frustrated. I can get some enjoyment out of writing for work, but I don’t ultimately get to control the final product.
This is why, since taking on my writing role, I have found out that there’s a distinction between creativity for a goal and creativity that’s just for me. I need a personal outlet – and more than I did before.
Taking control of what you do
Whatever you do as your day job, you can stop to paint, to sew, to write your feelings out. You can do some cooking, create a garden, or do some carpentry. Buy a journal and do some drawing. Pick up a musical instrument you used to play, or find a new one to learn. Start to embroider or knit. You can think of a creative subject you want to try and sign up for classes.
What’s important is this creativity is done for your own enjoyment. It’s not about impressing anyone, meeting deadlines or getting an audience. It doesn’t even need to be shown to anyone.
It’s just your personal outlet for what you love, and it’s a truer expression of you than any brief or work project can be.
I appreciate what this blogger had to say here:
Happiness, when it comes to creativity, is about taking some control of what you do, being responsible for your creative output and making the decision to do whatever it takes to create work that brings a smile to your face.
Not everyone stops to be creative for themselves. But it’s worth it.