“After a while, I peek my head out and wonder: Whoaahh! Where am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going?” These are the words of Christoph Niemann, but the question of “Where am I going?” pops up at least once week. In creative terms, this issue of style development and progression plagues every content creator.

For a writer, every word is handplucked; for a videographer, every second is curated. When I’m in the robotic phase of writing—where the words fly out like grass clippings—I don’t dwell on the roadmap under the characters. Because there isn’t one. The story writes itself, and I’m convinced my 9 to 5 self has nothing to do with it.

What Is Creativity?

Mackenzie Patel

This pressure to string together the optimal sentence is stressful 99% of the time. Where these late-night Microsoft rendezvous’ come from, I have no clue. Such a premium is placed on "creativity": the Big C: the belief that originality is coaxed from nothing into a colorful something.

That is bullshit. Ingenuity isn’t Giotto sketching sheep in the Italian countryside and being discovered as a prodigy by Cimabue. It’s the person that spends hours perfecting an article even though the first draft is fine. Being creative is harder than any of my accounting classes… the fear of failure/loss of talent, the reception of my work by others, and the future question of ‘pragmatism or passion?’ never disappear.

The Creator's Fear

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Mackenzie Patel

Beauty is like accumulated depreciation; it’s an asset in your 20s prime, but it cracks once children, a husband, and a career depreciate it. I fear my writing aptitude will act the same way. In the salad bowl of snogging, liberalism, and drama, my fingers can’t type my experiences fast enough. It’s easy. It’s mindless.

But when I’m 30? My ideas might be as dry as a drunken throat—what if my current talent is linked to the content I work with? Creativity is structured so an artist’s vision at 25 looks wildly different from the 50-year-old outcome. This idea implies a progression in skill or understanding of the chosen field, for stagnant work is irrelevant.

I don’t think an apex in creativity exists—lulls and dulls are normal, but the overall trend becomes more sophisticated as the creator ages. My fear is, what if I’m caught in a perpetual low after college ends? My main stimulus—the shenanigans of my peers—is missing, and I’m scared as to what will replace it.

Universities make insane, daring, and accepting citizens out of high school loafs. Suburban neighborhoods don’t have that power.

Listening To The Outside World

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Mackenzie Patel

Next, factoring the opinions of others into your creative life is a dangerous trap. My Facebook audience of 25 friends has multiplied to 500 people that have access to my works. Everything—every opinion or artistic musing—is available to my farthest acquaintances.

This catch-all platform excites me, but it also bars certain thoughts from migrating to paper. They say “speak your mind,” but that simply is not true. Social media creates a filter on creativity; anyone that stains it is subject to criticism from the world. It’s this constant tug-of-war: I don’t want to intentionally offend people, but I’m compelled to author truth.

What am I supposed to do? Being combative isn’t in my social nature, but articulating gripes and opinions through words is so much easier. How others judge my work—offensive content or not—is a subset of this “people” anxiety. No one liked this article on Facebook? My idea was stupid in the first place.

Maybe it’s this social media world, but the concerns of other people have crept into (and sometimes dominated) the content I produce. And that frightens me.

The Double-Edged Sword Of Creativity

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Mackenzie Patel

Imagination is a bitch. Creativity either blesses the artist with success or a life of “what ifs?”. Rethinking the world in my own terms—through my own definitions—is so much harder than just accepting the predetermined plot. It’s the exposure of failure, the criticism of others—but most importantly, the criticisms from myself.

Thinking about this future of freelancing and novels might be pointless, but so is writing articles on peanut butter, Biggie Smalls, and sexy breakfasts until midnight. However, I would be blank without it.