Your Creative Identity

I’m reading Seth Godin’s latest book, The Practice:  Shipping Creative Work. It is full of bite-size nuggets about becoming and being creative and a few things have already lodged in the back of my mind. Here’s one of them.

“Writers write. Runners run. Establish your identity by doing your work.”

Seth Godin

Whatever your creative thing is, it does you no good if you keep it inside. I can say all day long that I’m a writer or a coach, but if I don’t actually write or coach, then I’m really deceiving myself. Planning is not doing. The more time we spend stuck in planning, the more frustrated we get because our vision of our creative selves isn’t aligned with reality. Actually doing the creative work begins that process of alignment.

Part of this alignment is sharing what you produce – the “shipping” part of Godin’s title. Creativity starts from within, but as the ideas germinate and grow, we start to think about others. For example, you love whipping up new things in the kitchen, so you created a new recipe. Yes, maybe it was because you needed something to eat for dinner, but often that creation can lead to, “This recipe was so delicious, I think others would like to eat or make it.”

So what keeps us from sharing? Often it’s fear of what others may think of our creative effort. Will they like it? Will it sell? Will it go viral? How many “likes” will I get? What if there is no response at all?

You know what? Maybe it will fall flat. Who cares? You created it. You’re an author and you wrote. You’re a painter and you painted. You’re a dancer and you danced. You’re an entrepreneur and you created jobs. You’re a clerk and streamlined a process. Whatever it is, we all create something and we light up inside with our accomplishment and the excitement of putting something out there. The people who don’t appreciate it didn’t take the time and effort to come up with what you created. You did. And their feedback may help you refine what you created or change what you create going forward.

Other times, though, it is our own inner critic that prevents us from sharing. We doubt ourselves, our worth, and the quality of our creations and contributions. We say things to ourselves that we would never say to our friends. And we talk ourselves out of sharing and back into that frustrating planning mode.

I speak from experience on this. At the beginning of the year, I set a goal of posting one blog per month. An easy goal that I thought I would crush. But it’s almost June and I have posted exactly one blog so far. Ummm…. Why? Because I kept thinking that the blog needed to be more meaty, more well thought out and just, well, “more.” And that kept me from producing anything.

So I’m taking Godin’s advice and just putting this out there as a blog. Imperfect, with no authoritative references or interesting factoids, just my thoughts. Not many people read my blog anyway (likely because it’s not regular enough), so what’s the worst that can happen?

But the best that can happen is that I might take a step toward the path of finding my creative identity.

What’s holding you back from finding and unleashing your creativity on the world?