Why Do You Create?

While we’re on the topic of sharing what you create, let me ask the question: Why do you create? What was the point of all that work you’ve done? What is your goal?

I’ve spent a lot of my free time over the last several years hanging out around various writing and video production communities, where there’s a healthy mix of those who are looking to share what they’ve made and those who pale at the thought of having another person see their work. I grew up in the performing arts, which is attention seeking by nature (although I know, and have been, people who are perfectly content never having an audience). I’ve seen creatives have a vision and execute it. I’ve seen them have a vision, and then alter it with audience feedback. I’ve even seen them threaten to not make anything else until they get a specific form of validation.

And it got me thinking. I wondered how I truly view the relationship between what I do and what other people think of it. As I’ve noted, I’ve been known to give in to my introvert tendencies and keep work to myself, preferring to be comfortable with the knowledge I was making something. But I’ve also had a vision and worked it all the way through, sharing the results. I’ve started projects intended to explore a specific skill, technique, or topic, and just smiled politely at feedback that insisted I had to do things their way. I’ve started projects with no clear destination, and let feedback inspire development. I haven’t threatened to take my ball and go home yet, and I don’t think that’s likely to happen based on how I respond to analytics data.

I look at those who create according to audience feedback, and I’ll admit it – I pale at the thought of working like that. Yes, I do periodically ask for suggestions or prompts, but if I’m asking, you can bet I’m experiencing some kind of creative block. People who can go with the feedback flow, though, are interesting. From what I’ve observed, they create a skeleton or spine and a starting point for their project, and then develop along that spine according to what the audience suggests or how they react to what’s come before. If the audience offers a better idea, the creative breaks the spine to explore that idea. There’s a flexibility there that’s downright admirable (even if it completely scares me).

There are even creatives who put something out there, and then say, “Tell me what happens next”, to the audience. Those people are truly crazy. 😉 But the results can be spectacular when done well.

As for me, I create to get things out of my system, or to play with ideas, or to learn and practice a new skill. I don’t necessarily need an audience for that, but it’s nice when one shows up. That’s my answer to the above questions. How about you? How would you answer those questions?


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