“Creativity is the ability to consider and hold together seemingly inconsistent elements and forces, making a new connection.”1
Creativity is brilliant and beautiful, but dangerous and destructive at the same time. Why? Time has shown that the great creative minds of the past have suffered mentally from often self-inflicted exclusion. Freud, Eliot, even Gandhi dealt with mental breaks or bouts of depression. Perhaps, it’s the pressure of expectations once being discovered, or perhaps it’s the pressure of trying to be discovered, or even just the process of creativity. Creativity is unique to each individual, and tying together inconsistent elements can work for one person but not another. My style of writing has confused more traditional writers, and has garnered me lifetime readers. I know other writers who can say “I write like…”, but in all honesty, I’ve never read someone who writes like me. Is that good? Is it bad? That’s for readers to judge, but nevertheless, I am not going to change it. That could be shocking to some–you’re not going to change it?! Absolutely not.
I’ve seen other authors who are constantly searching for the magic mix, reading books with titles like, Write Yourself into Print, How to Write Yourself Rich, Writing for Dummies, etc. I myself fell prey to a book with a like title, of which I will not name. I say prey, because I mean it. The second I started writing the way someone told me to, I was writing crap–absolute, utter, crap. It fit the more traditional mold, but it was false, and worst of all, it sounded like everyone else. Ultimately, this mix of creative drive and reading how to be a writer ends up deconstructing instead of constructing something brilliant and beautiful.
“Writing is a form of crafted magic. Magic cannot be taught. If (and it’s a big if) you have a gift to begin with, then you can learn technique. But technique alone is not enough. Gifts are gifts– they come from somewhere else. Writing long paragraphs won’t make you William Faulkner anymore than writing self-effacing copy will make you Bill Bernbach…”1
When I read this quote, and even as I read it now, tingles rose on my arms. Finally, I thought to myself, finally, someone gets it. A textbook has never spoken to me like this before, let alone one about Advertising (don’t get me wrong. I love advertising). That’s right, that quote is not from some world renowned author or even a book on writing.Perhaps, we’ve been looking in the wrong places for guidance. Those books telling us how to write…why are they telling us how to write? If you have that talent, then you already know how to do it.
“Artists and creative thinkers never lost the ability to see the ordinary as extraordinary, to not have their particular form of imagination beaten out of them by the process of “growing up””1
Those books telling you how to write are doing just that, beating the imagination out of you. De–Instructing you on how to be a writer and molding you into whomever wrote that book’s expectations. Creativity is a burden if you use it, and a burden if you don’t–at least to me it is. When I’m not writing my insides twist into bricks and my soul lays still. There’s still times when I think it would be so much easier to just not do it. Creativity is frustrating, because creative minds strive for acknowledgement. What is it worth if there’s no gain? What can we really gain from creativity, though? It’s childish nature leads to self-destructive actions–unwaning determination to succeed in some form, sometimes at the expense of those around us. Howard Gardner speaks to this destructive nature in his book, Creative Minds.
“The carnage around a great creator is not a pretty sight, and this destructiveness occurs whether the individual is engaged in solitary pursuit or ostensibly working for the betterment of mankind.”
It seems creativity will ultimately lead to some sort of demise– the demise of our childlike souls, the demise of our sanity, the demise of relationships with those around us. I baulked at this thought–that, I, as a creative mind must meet such an end. Some part of my creativity will destroy me or the ones around me? I’m not that person. I look around me and find creative ways to assist people around me. I write to understand the human soul, but I also write to help others come to some understanding of those around them and within themselves (whether or not it’s the same conclusion I draw is null to me). Is this the “ostensibly” described above? Am I just telling myself that to make myself feel less guilty about my creative deconstruction? Perhaps, but I refuse to believe that. Maybe, then, my collision of type A personality and creative soul means I’m not truly a creative. Or perhaps, I’m just me.
A creative mess.
Someone with determination to strive against the odds of my unique writing.
Someone who, honestly, doesn’t give a crap about how I should write. That’s the carnage around me. That I just don’t care about the rules, besides technique–grammar, and even those rules are being broken purposely everyday (just not usually by me).
Yet, I know there is truth in Gardner’s words. To say otherwise would be fool hardy. I watched it in myself in 2014, where I questioned why I was still writing, and I’ve watched in writers I’ve known. Creativity comes with its faults and challenges; from struggling to define one’s style without engaging outside influences, to battling against the challenge of writing in a world where everyone is a writer.
In the end, all these quotes ring true to me and heed a powerful warning :
Be true to yourself, but never at the expense of others.
1. Thomas C. O’Guinn; Chris T. Allen, Richard J. Semenik, Advertising and Integrated Brand Promotion