Finding Genuine Purpose & Authenticity As A Creative in 2023 & Beyond
Creativity has entered a new era. Most of us, intentionally or otherwise, are forgetting how to create authentically for ourselves. That's certainly the case in my circle where we all seem to be suffering from the same level of what I'd call 'an infection of social platforming'.
No, I'm not going to spend this blog denigrating the good work of creators who are at the level of influencers. I'm friends with a few and a great follower of many; they still produce great content.
The issue isn't necessarily an issue with quality but one of intention. An issue that presents itself every time a creative thinks about producing something and is pre-wired into dialling down the saturation of their colours.
The question then is: how do we create with purpose and without losing the joyful fulfilment of our imaginative souls? and can we actually remain authentic and true-to-self whilst succeeding to the point of full-time creative income? Is that even the goal anymore?
I'm sorry to say if you've come here for answers, you'll be sorely disappointed. If, however, you've come here to philosophically discuss (wallow in) this newfound socially influenced disposition of craft, then you're right at home.
I've been noticing this authentic difficulty for a while. Previously, I wrote prolifically every day for Instagram. Poems upon poems upon poems. Some I'm still pretty proud of, some are so catered for a scrollable feed that they make me want to violently projectile vomit and hibernate for the rest of winter. Like, genuinely, some of my poems make me as horrendously embarrassed as doing the unthinkable and stumbling upon 2009 Facebook status updates.
Again, for the most parts, it's not because of quality. Some of them are ok, certainly when you see it from the perspective of someone growing into their voice. The embarrassment for me is seeing a poem, knowing I disliked it at the time and publishing it anyway. Solely because I believed it would perform well.
High off the serotonin of enough popular posts and the possibility of actually making a career out of creativity teases it's way into the subconscious. Not even the subconscious: the very conscious, please-make-it-happen area of the brain that pleads and begs and is horrified to learn it's not happened overnight. It's this teasing possibility which is the guiltiest of all.
That feeling has built and built itself a nice cosy home inside of me and, if you're here, I assume you as well. As such, I now live in this artistic limbo with the memory of some success but also a foggy future that feels increasingly unsustainable. Daily posts don't feel the same anymore. Social media rules don't feel - and are not - the same anymore. The process of creation does not feel the same. Nothing, for that matter, has the same adoring, free-flying gut reaction that it used to.
I want to change that. I want to do the internal uncomfortable work that is required to regain a semblance of expressive enthusiasm. I don't believe we all have to sacrifice our creative authenticity or be less genuine in our art to find success, but I do think we have to interrogate the urgency.
At the source of everything I struggle with and every creative session that runs away from me is a deep seated fear that I will be left behind. If I'm not propelled to the halls of fame as a writer and producer immediately, then I will simply be Liam that made a few things in his spare time.
The uncomfortable work then is split into two factors:
Be comfortable with slowness. In a culture of speed, it is sometimes the only thing that will be our soul survival. Create to create something of genuine internal, self spiritual extraction. Or in less pompous words, create things that are real.
Be comfortable with it not happening. Love the process of making honest art, whether it leads to something or not. If only 5 people see a piece, it has still been seen and it has still been a worthy project. Aim for the stars, but enjoy the earth.
I'm going to be documenting this journey on this blog, along with a few reviews and literary thoughts, so I hope you'll join me and give your own opinions. Ultimately, there's a distinction between creativity that is made to be decorative and creativity that is made to be deeper and fundamentally more practical. Both are great but we have to understand which we align with most and just focus on that. Our souls are sensitive and knowing what keeps them animated will surely be the answer to most of these simple-but-not questions. Simple because if something animates our soul, then it just does. Not simple because placing it above the need for a fast fix validation is horrifyingly complex.
And that's the rub.