“With people of limited ability modesty is merely honesty. But with those who possess great talent it is hypocrisy.” – Arthur Schopenhauer
I was talking about creativity with a songwriter and producer. I asked him if he’d had any recurring issues with himself or the people he works with. He thought about it for a while and said that a lot of it had to do with your own mental state.
We talked about it for a while. How having the right people around you really does a lot. How things like lighting, mood and decor in your workspace affect the process. He didn’t say it out loud but I could tell that it’s also got a lot to do with ones personal life.
I remember reading an article where he’d said how he felt stuck and called up an acquaintance and the process picked up speed. Also, having a stable relationship to lean on was a great comfort!
He had some great points and we’ve touched on them in previous posts. I had just one more question for him: “When you feel stuck, what’s your go to thing?”. He came back quick as a whip smiled and said: “Don’t have one!”. All would’ve been well but for the three little words that followed. No, it wasn’t “I love you”. That would’ve just been awkward, weird and a little too soon. I mean, we’ve only known each other for a couple of weeks! No, the words were:
“It’s Not Nucleonics!”
I could not believe it. I went silent for a while and then excused myself with something like: “Lucky you! Well, have a great day and see you later, OK? Buh-bye!”.
I wasn’t pissed off. It was an off the cuff remark meant in good humor and he’s a great guy! I just felt kind of disappointed. But why?
So I went over it until I understood what bothered me with that comment. I felt like it undermined the stuff i’m trying to give my clients, friends and you guys. A better understanding of what creativity is and how important it is for improving ourselves, our work and the world.
I don’t usually do the following because I feel like the things we talk about can stand on their own merits. There is no need to attach other people’s names to these things. That being said: get out your umbrella ‘cuz it looks like we’re going to experience some name dropping!
This guy has worked with Madonna, Katy Perry, Avicii etc. Why would he say something like that? Modesty? Probably. Seems like he wanted to diminish his input. Maybe because he feels fortunate to have his hard work result in these opportunities. This is pure speculation, but kind of interesting.
But is it productive? I don’t feel like it is. One major reason that creative work has been looked upon as “things to do when you’re not actually working” is how we creatives express ourselves about our arts. When we say things like “it’s not nucleonics!” or “it’s only music/painting/comics/videogames/movies etc” is that we’re downplaying their importance.
I remember seeing a comedian talk about how stand up comics get criticized about various jokes. He went on to explain how comedy can shine a light on a subject that’s really hard to talk about otherwise. Discussions that have a tendency to become solemn benefit greatly by bringing in humor, it lets us relieve the tension we might be feeling and warm up to the subject.
The same thing happened there as well. When the talk was winding down he said those magic words: “They’re only jokes”. And with that he knocked down everything he’d built up. We can understand why he said it. It takes the pressure off. What it also does is take away the art form’s validity. The power that it has to make people think.
Another missed opportunity came in the 90’s for videogames. When games like “Mortal Kombat” got criticized for their violent content the go to excuse was: “But it’s only a game!”.
This kind of reasoning set the debate we could have had another 5-10 years until the next thing came. Guess what happened then? Same thing! And now? Bring that excuse out for yet another encore!
We as creatives need to start taking more pride and responsibility in our work. We need to welcome debate. The work that we do is IMPORTANT, let’s acknowledge that. Maybe then people will start taking our work seriously as well and we don’t have to shy away from saying: “It’s not ‘just’ music/videogames/art/movies etc, it’s more than that! We’re telling a story that needs to be told. We want to challenge you with this. We want to make you think. We take pride in our work and thank you for caring about it as much as we do”.
Can you guess how many people have experienced a trauma related to creativity?
More than half of all people. I’ll just put that in numbers. More than 50% of people. There’s more than 7 billion people on earth. That means that more than 3.5 billion people are affected.
Trauma can apparently be conducive to creativity. Trauma related to creativity, not so much. If anything it stifles it.
Let’s look at some other things that are holding us back. Sexism, racism, ageism, religious intolerance, political intolerance… Wow, I reeeally don’t want to continue writing this list. The mind boggles if you start doing the math.
Keep it positive man! We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us and if we start setting good examples now it’ll spread like rings on the water.
Imagine that more than half of the worlds population is holding back their creativity. How much more great art we could have. How many more great technological advances we could enjoy. How many of the worlds issues could’ve been solved if we had the rest of the world with us!
So no, it’s not nucleonics. It’s much more than that.
“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.” – Edward de Bono