The Fear of Sucking at Creativity

From my extensive minutes of research, substantial googling (not going past page one…but then who does?) and personal experience I’ve come across how tough it can be to pour words, thoughts and images from the brain required for the process of creation. The post stems from the fact that I happily ran forth to create a blog but several drafts later gave up on posting any content. And so procrastination set in thus resulting in a creative lull. So it’s sorta meta in a way since i’ve been writing this post at a pace of 10 words a day.

Pictured here : Expectations
Pictured here :Expectations

I first started blogging in 2006 as a medium to mostly vent out all the teenage angst. And slowly found out other teen angsty blogs and hence got immensely excited at the prospect of sharing posts with people. Since the concept of ‘micro blogging’ and ‘status updates’ wasn’t as ubiquitous at that time, people poured their hearts out to lengthy monologues and dissected presentations of personal matters or the internet’s favourite “opinion spewing”. My love for the inter webs had just begun when I dived in head first.

Accurate representation of the web

Writing freely about personal matters and opinions without the expectation of an actual audience was pretty amazing. Although later on out of a need for a progressive step of maturity, I started commenting on (what seemed to be) pertinent issues and movie reviews as opposed to my earlier “dark and Emo” rants about the cruel world. I discovered that I was better off at making fun of things rather than write well researched journalistic posts. And hence the process of writing was now more serious. At least on a personal level.

Since my blog slowly faded into oblivion with my sparse posts and ‘herbal viagra’/’Enlarge your instruments’ spam comments, I retreated. At which point I realised Facebook notes were a much more effective medium of blogging since there was more visibility. And hence due to the immediate feedback I was happy to gain the knowledge of having the ability to express myself through writing. Even though my language and punctuations suffered (and still does), I was able to hide conveniently behind the casual nature of blogging.

My retort template

But like most creative pursuits I’ve been personally involved in, the more I started working with an audience in my head the more I started being critical about myself. The added criteria of ‘should-please-people’ replaced the previous priority of ‘should-please-self’ (not an entendre). This in turn added more pressure since I wasn’t creating something as freely as before. Now there were certain filters to be put down. Even though being devoid of any filters is the main crux of putting content on the internet. The propagation of content was dependent on it.

In terms of music, I posted a barrage of ambient soundscapes. Cause using the word ‘soundscapes‘ for random noise generation to make melodic sense sounded pretty cool. And somehow as I posted each new track, which I personally was really proud of, I realised that the people who viewed it weren’t able to connect with it. And it did not make a difference to me at first since I wasn’t banking on listens/likes for any validation. And then for the sake of getting to know a certain benchmark I put up a relatively poppy track which personally seemed would have more mass appeal.

And Bam! That track till date has the most “listens” out of the others on my soundcloud page. The immediate validation I got was pretty overwhelming at first. But It was a track I wasn’t personally as invested in, since the sound was too polished. This made me question whether it was a hipster tendency of keeping things ‘lo-fi’ but that would be an argument for a later day. But then again I questioned who I making the music for : me or the people who followed me online? Or whether there was a blurry line which was seemingly imperceptible?

Internet Self Defence lessons from Ice Cube

I realised that working according to a set brief was something that questioned my free flowing approach to content creation. And working for an advertising firm gave me a greater perspective on what this procedure was like. The pressure of an impending deadline was one thing I discovered made a difference when working as an employee as opposed to banking on idle time couch slouching to come up with the “next big thing“.

But working on personal projects, I was still unable to set a deadline. Since creativity was not an asset which came as per will. So I always managed to give that leeway to the creative side of the brain. Also one aspect that worked both ways for me was to never be satisfied with what I created till the moment it went out to the big ambiguously judgmental world online.

Most of the time I was hell bent on polishing any work so as to prep myself to justify my shortcomings. And this constant polishing process made me refrain from putting out any content. The more time I spent polishing, the more fear inducing ‘what-if‘ scenarios sprung out of nowhere. And hence that fear in turn led to hoarding all the unreleased content. This became a big issue.

Boromir was huge on social media during the fellowship #fact

According to Dan Ariely’s book The Upside of Irrationality, we tend to value our creations a bit higher than it’s actual worth. Due to the amount of work put in for the process of creation our valuation changes and becomes a bit less objective. He’s termed this as ‘The Ikea Effect‘. What I personally felt was that this self valuation created a barrier between the creator and objective evaluation. And hence created a cyclic fear which generated doubts on every iteration of the work.

One of the biggest issues (also in the aforementioned book) is how our expectations of people’s reaction are slightly exaggerated. We generally have a nagging conscience of “What people would think” at the end of. Although it is present in different magnitudes amongst different people. And it’s an essential social dynamic which helps us gauge the surroundings, therefore making social interactions easier.

At the end of it, this post was merely a planned attempt to gather some momentum on my writing. And spewing out memes by the dozen since It’s become one of my primary languages. And so let my future be this :

 

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