Writer | Marketer | Creative

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Creating Your Best Work


There's a piece of advice that I keep coming across again and again. It applies to anyone with a creative side, but it always leaves me befuddled. That piece of advice goes like this.

People will often encourage you to create what you know. Don't do that. Create what you like. Paint the picture you want to see. Write the book you want to read. Make the film you want to watch...

This advice comes up often (seemingly) as a cry to actually create rather than just copy what you see others doing. If you create what you'd like to see created, it will be something new or different. If you create something you know, you'll effectively be spitting out the same art you take in. Or so the theory goes.

I have a hard time figuring out what this piece of advice means for me - for anyone, really. Usually if I come across a piece of advice and I can't make sense of it, I just leave it. I forget about it. But this tidbit has come up time and time again in my reading. Either it's really good, or the people saying it aren't applying it to themselves.

I know what I write and create could be more interesting. It could be better. By intentionally sitting down to write every day, am I not inevitably creating what I'd like to create? Or does the frequency actually cause the inverse? Do I end up writing just what I know in an attempt to get things done, rather than waiting for creative inspiration to strike?

It genuinely confuses me. I don't have an answer, or even a concise response! I've read various elaborations on the point, but few seem to clearly define the difference. Maybe that says something about me? Maybe I should pay attention to my misunderstanding and contemplation - maybe create from that instead? 

That would be following the advice, right? Creating something for me instead of creating per advice? Would the right thing to do, then, be to neglect all the advice and do what I want? Do you see how this gets confusing?

We all naturally create what we already know. We can't exactly pull from any other sources. Isn't creating what we like the same thing as selectively creating what we know?

I think I get the point of it. Create whatever you want to create and you'll get the most out of yourself. But there's also cases everyday where so-and-so artist or creative does some kind of copycat, uninspired work to pay the bills and build a foundation for growth. Bills are important! A foundation is necessary for any skyscraper!

It's confusing. What should I - what should we as a creative community actually create? What are the artistic needs that we should provide? Where are the creative voids it's our duty to fill?

As creatives, we have to create. It's like oxygen for us! How can we do that in such a way that we make our best work and serve a need or fill a hole? I think that only by combining these two pieces will anything we create matter. How do we do that?