I’ve always struggled to accept creative work as important, or legitimate. In seeking out what I wanted to do with my life, only one path seemed clear: be a writer.
From the time I was young — we’re talking about 7 years old — this was obvious. It was an obvious fact to me and to other people around me for as long as I can remember.
I write. I’m a writer.
But my career aspirations never lined up with my calling. And that was deliberate on my part. I didn’t think this was important enough. Or that the ideas I had were good enough. Or, really, that I was good enough.
How am I helping my fellow humans by sitting down and writing? Is spending hours a day banging away at some keys really going to positively impact anyone?
I didn’t have the guts to pursue writing in any capacity because I thought of it in contexts like these: there are suffering kids in Bangladesh who work 18 hours a day for two cents in horrible sweatshops.
How dare I sit around leisurely pursuing any kind of fluffy dreams of being a writer?
Such thoughts left me feeling as though all creative work that I could do, not just writing, was pointless. Invalid. Not worth even thinking about, let alone devoting precious time and energy to.
Shouldn’t I be off, you know, trying to figure out how to end world hunger or eliminate homelessness or stop wars and the killing of innocent civilians?
I pushed away the call to be a writer because such work wasn’t important enough. It couldn’t help anyone. It was downright impractical.
I’ve sinced learned how very wrong this way of thinking is. Creative work is critically important, and ignoring the creative work I needed to do only delayed the help I could provide to others.
How to Accept Creative Work as Legitimate Work
Two ideas convinced me that doing creative work was valid. And not only valid, but in a way, necessary.
The first came from Kayla Albert, who shared that the best way we can express gratitude for our existence is to live a good life in which we are happy and fulfilled.
Pursuit of creative work, put into perspective with this lens, is not something that’s selfish or unimportant or useless. Creative work is my way to show my appreciation for being here, because through creative work I utilize my particular gifts and skills.
Through creative work, I feel happy. I live a better life.
The second idea came from Elizabeth Gilbert, through her book Big Magic.
(If you haven’t read this yet, I suggest doing so as soon as possible. Go find it at your library or purchase it via the OTR Library — it’s a cornerstone piece of content that we believe is a must-read.)
Gilbert points out that art came before agriculture in human history. That’s powerful stuff. It means humans valued creating over finding organized, sustainable ways of feeding themselves.
Creative work is our human legacy. Our creativity allowed us to become who we are. And who am I to say that such work is invalid?
If you struggle to embrace creativity — in doing creative work, or living a creative life — these two ideas will help you accept it as legitimate. We are all creative. We should all create.
Why Creative Work Benefits Us All
If you’re still not convinced, I hope I can illustrate how your creative work benefits us all. I’m going to start by telling you that we need your creative work.
Seriously. That’s not an empty platitude. That’s real talk. We need you to make, do, and create.
And here’s why.
Remember those poor Bangladeshi kids, working in sweatshops, making trendy cheap clothing possible in the States that I mentioned earlier? Every time I wanted to do creative work, thoughts like this stopped me.
How could I think creative work was important when so many other people were not in a position to do their own creative work? How could I encourage others to pursue their creativity when, many times, doing so is a matter of privilege?
I couldn’t, if the only way my personal creative work could provide value to others was directly.
Thankfully, that’s not how this all works. We each have a different purpose, a different role to play. But ultimately, we’re all connected.
Living my best life as a creative person means inspiring, empowering, and mentoring others. And if someone else’s role is to save the world by figuring out how to get clean water to rural villages, or helping people suffering from addiction get back on their feet, or raising funds to support research for a deadly disease — don’t you think that person might need some inspiration, empowerment, and mentorship through that long and hard road?
The people who are out saving the world need your creative work to exist. They need to find inspiration and motivation in what you can create for them. They need to find a delight in dark times, a way to maintain the willpower to keep serving others, a support system to rely on when the weight of their burden becomes a little too much to bear.
Creative work has a place in this vast, interconnected world of ours. Don’t reject your calling, or push aside your purpose here because you think it’s not important, or valid, or legitimate.#Creative work has an important, vital a place in this vast, interconnected world of ours. Click To Tweet
You may think, “who am I to pursue this creative life?”
But really, who are you to think you shouldn’t? Who are you to think you know better, to think you can see the grand scheme of all things across time and space?
We’re each too small to even begin to imagine the type of impact we could have on the world if we recognized and fulfilled what calls us each to act. To make. To do. To create.
That is the importance of creative work. Now get out there and do yours.