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.
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:
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.