How To Be Creative (Without Also Sucking as a Person)

It’s a caffeine-fueled week, folks.

I’ve started writing for myself again—just a little bit, just mission critical stuff. I bought a new journal two weeks ago, and it’s nice to have my own private space to be…well, a writer.

(Maybe it’s better to say “a person who writes.” Sounds less pretentious. )

This isn’t my first journal. In a few months, it will likely join the dozen other half-finished notebooks boxed away in my basement. Yet another awkward testament to my young narcissism. Or to my passion for artistic expression. Or both.

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Narcissism, self-expression. They kind of go together, don’t they?

Here’s a reality I’ve uncovered recently: Being a creative person can be pretty freakin’ self-involved, especially in the share-centric twenty first century. We’re claiming our own little corners of the internet, competing for attention, measuring our value in likes and upvotes. I have a website which is a pun of my own name, guys. That can’t be good for ego control.

And so it goes: I made this. I wrote this. I produced this. Please admire me?

Journalling for myself remedies some of that, sometimes. At the very least, it lets me differentiate between what is (and isn’t) relevant to the public. It lets me organize my thoughts before I throw them at you guys (that’s a good thing, trust me). I also have a private micro-journalling app called Day One, which often takes the place of InstaTwitterBook posting. It means I can caption, organize, and record little memories, without forcing them all upon every person I have ever met. It means I don’t spam you with my daily monotony.

Well, I do sometimes. But the app at least helps with the self-control.

I think having different outlets for expression is really healthy, especially if you seem to have a lot to express. Being creative means that I write articles like this, but it also means I take pictures of everything. I write stupid poems. I record brainwaves, I pen songs, I text weird puns at my best friend.

You don’t need to see all that.

I’ll show you some of it–when it could be inspiring, or interesting, or funny. When it becomes something more powerful, when it could reflect on your life in some way. When I can release it with an assured sense of “Yeah, this doesn’t belong to me anymore. This idea, this article, this story…I can let people have their way with it.

We shouldn’t hold back our gifts. I would be a hypocrite to speak against good ol’ self-promotion. Still, I think it’s fair to commit to creating things worth promoting.  The things we create matter not because they’re a solid contribution to our own “collected works,” but because they’re an important (or entertaining, or enlightening) contribution to the collected works of humanity, period.

And that can end pretty freaking well:

art is

I think the secret to creating without also sucking as a person (or just being annoying to be around) is to be thoughtful with when and how you share. Not everything matters to everyone…but, at the same time, one unexpected piece of art can completely change the game. Be bold. Be real. Remember that a well-crafted personal letter to just one person can be 10 times more powerful than a semi-popular blog post. Remember that appreciating the creations of others, large and small, can have a profoundly positive effect on community.

And remember that as soon as you share something you have created, it becomes a gift. It can be about you, you can put yourself and your effort inside of it, but ultimately it no longer belongs to you.

When I press publish on this blog post, it will go from being mine to being ours. You get to have your way with it.

And I’ll just be here–sipping cheap coffee, privately sketching out my self-obsession, and letting you know if I come up with something worth sharing.

Love.

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Words & Music.

I wrote a song.

This is a first, really. I have written songs before, but never on my own.  This one just kinda…happened.  It was initially a poem, but left alone with my keyboard and a head full of things I’m thankful for, I decided expand it and put it to music. Be forgiving, of course, as I really just picked up this instrument a good few weeks ago and recorded the video after I finished songwriting/tour guiding all day. My voice was unbelievably tired.

But what it comes down to are the words. Yes, someday I hope to work up enough talent to bring the music part up to par (or just get  of my jam buddies to fill in the blanks!).  I like that there’s music, but it isn’t meant to be anything more than simple. I’m hoping that if people follow the words they will know how it is meant to be taken, and smile in spite of my tired vocal chords. Because, hey, imperfection is okay. Music is okay. Words can be very, very okay.

(Also, God can be so poetically compared to a washing machine that even my Minister digs the lyrics…at least, that’s what his “like” on Facebook says. Take that, conventionality!)

You called me on the phone
And I cried across the line
Cuz the wounds that you were nursing
They sound a lot like mine

And there’s a map in my head
It’s got a marker in your place
I’ve walked that same long road
And I’ve seen those same long days

Let’s run away
Or just talk for 5 hours
Exchange the words “It’s gonna be alright.”

Cuz these bruises give us colour, baby
Our scars keep us in line
We get our strength from fist fighting
With the hands of time
All the bittersweetness
All the shots we miss
They tie us to each other
And our bruises give us colour

So your heart spilled on your sleeve
Well there’s nothing wrong with that
I’ve heard that with a little change
God can be a laundromat

And if winter turns to summer
And your heart still feels the burn
Let that fire keep you moving
Cuz there’s still a lot to learn

Life takes turns
So we better learn to dance
If we fall along the way, it’s a story

Cuz these bruises give us colour, baby
Our scars keep us in line
We get our strength from fist fighting
With the hands of time
All the bittersweetness
All the shots we miss
They tie us to each other
And our bruises give us colour

I’ve got a million cliches
They could tide you over for days
But I know 2 am is still a bitch

So maybe can just cry together
Or shoot the shit till it feels better
And stop treating our pain like it’s a glitch

I know you know I know just how it is.

How these bruises give us colour
And our scars keep us in line
And we get our strength from fist fighting
With the hands of time
All the bittersweetness
All the shots we miss
All the prayers we say
All the gifts of today
They tie us to each other
Our bruises give us colour