The Cost Of Creativity

“The more original your idea is, the less good advice other people will be able to give you.” “You don’t know if your idea is any good the moment it’s created. Neither does anyone else.”  -Hugh MacLeod Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity

Or as Hugh MacLeod adds from Ignore Everybody”Good ideas have lonely childhoods.”  And the thing is, many creatives can have lonely adulthoods, too. Especially when it comes to sharing and promoting their ideas and thinking. A loneliness that is often attributed to others being unable to see what you may see, as well as the possibilities and ideas that are bouncing frenetically around the recesses of your mind. Which is why trust is so incredibly important for creative visionaries. They have to be able to trust themselves, trust their thinking, ideas and work, otherwise self-doubt can and will eventually creep in and ultimately overwhelm. Especially when you are often working in unknowns and uncertainty. When you are exploring new ideas and new thinking that others may struggle considering, let alone accepting. For which Hugh MacLeod contends, “There’s a reason why feelings scare us – because what they tell us and what the rest of the world tells us are often two different things.”

Big ideas are scary. Not only for possibilities they engage, but for the changes they evoke and the resistance they receive. And there is always that voice in the back of your head, the doubt-pusher pecking away…”Can I do this?” “Can I do this?” “Can I do this?” And if you can get past those word walls, most often followed up with, ”Who are you to think you can do this?” “Who are you to think you can do this?” “Who are you to think you can do this?”

Being creative and innovative is not always a joyous proposition. Not only does it require daily dedication and perspiration to the work. It can often lead to mental isolation, especially when your ideas don’t conform to status quo and the current culture. Often leading to internal and external bouts of doubt and uncertainty. You will tend to spend long periods of time questioning your own thinking and ideas, determining if these creative revelations are irrational and illogical or progressive and innovative.

But, as Hugh MacLeod imparts in his work Ignore Everybody”This is the price you pay, every time. There is no way of avoiding it.” “So there’ll be a time in the beginning when you have to press on, alone, without one tenth the support you probably need.  This is normal. This is to be expected.”

And for these reasons, you need to search out your creative companion. The friend that is willing to give you the feedback that is often difficult, but necessary and needed. Not criticism that pulls you back, but honest advice that drives you deeper with your ideas, your thinking, and your work. Especially when doubt and uncertainty begins its slow creep into the creative process.

Just understand, this creative companion is not easy to find. Many creatives search for years, even a lifetime, and never find that other person that pushes their ideas and thinking. That person that pushes them past the internal and external forces of doubt. But you know that person when you find them, just don’t let them go.

“Never compare your inside with somebody else’s outside.”  -Hugh MacLeod ‘Ignore Everybody’


2 thoughts on “The Cost Of Creativity

  1. Thank you for this post. I don’t consider myself a creative type, but I have a teenaged daughter who is. Your post hit home with me, as her creativity often has her on the outside, different than her peers, questioning her own ideas, and sometimes getting negative feedback from teachers because her work doesn’t conform to their standards. Luckily, she has recently found a mentor, another teacher within her school, who celebrates and encourages her creativity. It has made all the difference. I only hope all students – and adults – can find that same support.

  2. What a wonderful post! I must say that my Twitter PLN has been a supportive team with which to share and consider new ideas. Also, this year I’ve been fortunate to find a creative companion, and your post helps me to realize the value of this person in my life. As always, thank you for your terrific inspiration, David.

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