Elizabeth Gilbert’s newest book Big Magic has an interesting premise. Gilbert uses the book as part love letter to creativity, part self-help book for creative endeavors, and part invitation to readers to live a creative life. She posits (without scientific tests, evidence, or studies, mind you) the existence of supernatural entities that bring inspiration, creative genius, and new ideas into and out of our lives. Although I am skeptical of several ideas in the book, I do identify with her overarching entreaty: create not for others but for yourself.
I didn’t wholly agree with Gilbert until I thought about this blog. Using views as quantitative evidence of “success”, this blog isn’t successful. It’s not widely read – I average 3 views per day when I post, and I post infrequently. Late last year, however, I wrote and posted a letter to a friend’s family after he died, using this medium to share with the people he left behind what he meant to me. The twenty-four hour period after I posted registered nearly two hundred views! When I wrote the post about Scott, I wrote to process grief and share with his family. I created it for my own use, and it was the most “successful” post on my blog.
Gilbert writes that if we create for ourselves, we will enjoy our lives more regardless of others’ opinions. She posits that if we are lucky enough to have our creative outputs recognized, what we create for ourselves will register among outsiders more positively because we, the creators, are authentic to ourselves. For the most part, I use the blog to engage other media and authors in conversation and to practice writing skills from college – not overtly personal creations. I chose to post about Scott in this blog on a whim, and the post was far more personal than I usually allow. That post was created for me, and I was rewarded for that effort. Yet the reward means little, as that post allowed me to share grief with a friend’s family.
I experience the power of creating for me. I entreat you – create something for yourself! (Creativity is possible outside of the traditional “arts”, remember.) How will you use creativity in your life?