Unhidden Creativity & The Personal Cost Of Sharing Your Creativity Online
If you put yourself out there on a regular occasion, by showing your life and your work online or IRL, this is for you. And if you dream of one day doing that, this is definitely for you. When I started That Hummingbird Life - nearly 3 years ago now - shit really started to change. I didn’t anticipate just how much of myself I would put out there, I didn’t foresee how much it would spark my creativity and I didn’t realise how much joy I would find along the way.
And it’s been one heck of a journey:
For one, fear and I have learned how to have a less hostile relationship
With lots of practice, I’ve overcome the nerve of pressing publish on particularly vulnerable blog posts. I’ve got to really enjoy the art of putting all of your messy complicated bits online and hearing ‘me too’ echoed right back.
I’m more creative than I have ever been and I love the routine of creating, writing and putting things out there three times a week.
Oh and I love having the excuse to have epic-ly deep and honest conversations for The Couragemakers Podcast every week.
Now, I know I’m not alone in this. So many of the creatives I admire put themselves out there on a daily basis; showing their work, their process and their stories.
And lately, I’ve started to wonder about the other side of things. If it can, in fact hinder our creativity and take something away from it.
While we remain intensely creative for the majority of the time, does it come with a less rosy flip side?
When everything creative we do is made with the intention of being seen, does it start to affect our work?
I think it does.
When you’re creating something knowing you will be sharing it, I think it is impossible not to have some kind of lens in which your work is made with, or some level of censorship, no matter how conscious of it you are or not.
We’ve all written things and pressed the backspace button repeatedly. Maybe it's because it steps into a realm of things we’ve decided we don’t want to talk about publicly (for me, that’s everything to do with my family, the ins and outs of me and Mr. Meg’s relationship and anything that could compromise someone I love), or perhaps it paints us in a bit of a shitty light
We’ve all had things we want desperately to talk about or put into our work but we can’t - perhaps because we don’t want to air our personal laundry in public, or because we know sometimes it’s only going to invite a shitstorm into our lives that we simply don’t have the energy for.
And because. let’s face it, sometimes there are aspects of our lives that we want to stay hidden, or things we want to struggle in the dark about, and we have a right to do just that.
But lately I’ve been starting to think about how only doing creative work that is seen might be doing us, our audiences and our mental health a disservice.
If we’re creating and putting everything we create online and cutting our the, let’s call them No Go Areas, how do we work through our own shit and get through our own hard times if we don’t feel we can't talk about them out loud?
While I’m a huge advocate for using your art to heal yourself and move outwards, if I’m being totally honest, I know somewhere along the line, I can see that I stopped doing creative things just for me.
I’ve been feeling more depressed, more anxious and I’ve started noticing that my mind is full of so much noise than it has been a while. I haven’t been processing some very real things and some cobwebs have started to fester in my brain. And I know that when I use my creativity to explore shit I’m going through, it makes all the difference in the world.
Putting my festering brain aside for a second, I think the missing link in all of this is that we simply stop creating for ourselves. We fail to realise that we can have the cake and eat it too. We can create things that will be seen and make the world a brighter place, and we can create things just for ourselves that remain hidden and un-seen as well.
I call it hidden creativity.
The art of doing things for your eyes only, and being able to go back to the magic of having your creativity heal yourself and make things brighter.
Let me ask you a couple of questions I’ve been asking myself lately:
When was the last time you created something for your eyes only?
When was the last time you gave yourself permission to create something and really fuck it up?
My friend, not everything needs to be shown. Our lives are complicated, messy, wonderful things, and sometimes we need to grab our creativity, hold onto it and use it for ourselves.
We need it to address parts of our lives that we might not be ready to talk about, we need to use it to unwind at the end of the day instead of seeing it as a part of our never ending to do list, and we need to start going back to how we started.
And that’s this passionate love affair with being able to express yourself, being able to use your creativity to heal yourself and use your creativity to take some time to really self-reflect and see what’s going on with you.
At some point you need to stop giving and keep some for yourself.
I’m reminded of the quote by the wonderful Maya Angelou: "You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
So friends, let’s reclaim our creativity and bring it back into our every day lives instead of just existing on our to-do and to-show lists.
Let’s stop censoring and let’s start creating for our eyes only.
The world will be so much more of a brighter place with all of you in it.