Why Should I Create?
A few weeks ago, I attended Summer in the City, an event at which creators and viewers alike gather to celebrate and discuss YouTube and the community which exists behind it. After attending a few panels, I started to feel slightly intimidated by the successes of the accomplished speakers, many of whom were of a similar age to me and had already managed to build careers as creators at a time when it is notoriously difficult to do so. As a student and young person who enjoys making things, I consequently began to ask myself about my own amateur creative processes and why – if at all – I should continue to create in today’s society.
For students, the coupling of an ever-present workload with a plethora of social pressures means that extra effort is required to find time for artistic endeavours, leading me to ask if and how I should structure my creativity.
Do I have to choose one area, such as writing, photography or filmmaking? Should I be working on it every day?How much should I be producing? And perhaps most importantly, why should I create?
The answer to this last question could take a wide range of forms: for some students, creativity is driven by the desire for a career in the arts; for others, motivation originates from a wish to create a physical record of their thoughts and feelings during a specific period in their lives. Many creative individuals may even argue that the therapeutic benefits of making are purpose enough, regardless of outcome – although I fear that this attitude is less common amongst young people today, for many of whom free time is a rare and precious resource.
Taking all of this into account, why should I, a stressed-out student, use my time for creative pursuits? One thing illustrated by the panellists at Summer in the City was that everyone is different; there is no specific reason for expressing creativity, and attempts to imitate the methods of others will only hinder self-expression. The idea of careers is also an interesting one; you might argue that a creative career is difficult to find, and that in creating solely with the intention of building employment prospects, you are overlooking the rewarding feeling of making things and instead focussing on the successes and failures in your search.
In a society where competition for jobs in the arts is becoming ever fiercer, it is easy for young people to lose sight of what attracted them to creative careers in the first place. It is only from having taken a step back I’ve come to accept that I create primarily because it makes me feel happy, motivated and fulfilled.
Ultimately, creativity should always be personal; for it to be authentic, anything you make, write or perform should be done for yourself, whether it be a private journal or a public performance – as long as it brings pleasure and self-exploration, it’s serving a worthwhile purpose.