I don’t understand why some people have to act high and mighty when it comes to creativity. They appoint themselves as gatekeepers, belittling and turning away anyone who doesn’t conform to what they think is the right way to do things. “You need to write your story this way” or “No one is going to read that if you write it” or “Why don’t you do something more productive”. Those are just a few of the less-obnoxious comments I’ve seen.
I feel like I have to act like a counter-balance to these bullies. Why? Because I’ve been on the receiving end of creativity bullying. Some of it came from family, some from people I thought were friends, and some from complete strangers. No one is really immune to it. Bullies are everywhere, and it seems even more so lately.
To me, there is no right way or wrong way when it comes to creativity. If I visualize or hear something in my head, I want to bring it into being. I don’t care if people might think it’s silly or stupid or might be offended by it. Those are their issues, not mine. I’m going to create what I want to create.
Full disclosure here: I haven’t always had this mindset. In fact, I was just the opposite. I let those bullies get into my head and dictate what I should and shouldn’t do when it came to writing. It got to the point where I was embarrassed to show anyone anything I’d written or drawn. I worked in silence like a creative hermit. In fact, I was hesitant to even tell people that I was a writer because they might want to see what I’d written, then tell me everything I did wrong.
It took a long time for me to realize that these fools were hindering my creativity. I worked long and hard to get over my neurosis about showing my work to others. I had to get also get over the feeling that I had to write to please others. That was a big one to overcome. I had all these ideas for stories, ones that I thought were weird and wonderful, but I didn’t write them because of things some people said. Basically, “don’t be so weird” and “why don’t you write something people will actually read” and “you can’t show that to people, they’ll think there’s something wrong with you.”
Yeah, and they were sort of correct on that last one. There was something wrong with me. I was letting bullies get the best of me. Once I realized that I didn’t have to listen to the naysayers, that I didn’t have to care what other people thought, I discovered real creative freedom.
At this point in my artistic life, I am free to explore whatever interests me. I write whatever crazy stories that come to mind, I play around with making videos, I cook, I podcast, I blog, I play musical instruments, I write poetry and lyrics for imaginary songs. Anything I want to do, I do. Do I want to make a skull out of the pieces of old compact discs? Do I want to write a story about sex dolls becoming sentient? Do I want to try my hand at making homemade insect sushi? I can do all these things if I want to. Although I’m having second thoughts on the insect sushi.
And because I’ve made this change in my creative life, I want to pass it along to other artists and creators. I don’t want anyone to feel the way I did about my creative endeavors. I want creative people to be creative, so be comfortable with themselves as artists, to be empowered to do whatever creative project they can think of.
I’ll continue to push back against the gatekeepers of all things creative. Like cockroaches, they belong in the dark corners. The rest of us belong in the light, thinking, creating, making magic.
The world needs that much more than it needs bullies.