Creativity and Ego

Being a creator (an artist, a musician, a choreographer, a writer, etc.) requires a great amount of ego. It takes ego to think: What I create through imagination and skill is worth someone else’s time–even more, if a professional, someone else’s money. In most creative fields, you also have to have enough ego to absorb other people’s negative opinions and still think what you create is worth it. Most creators achieve this ego naturally, because they love what they do so much that it’s worth their own time, and so in theory someone else’s. For the amateur creator, displaying their work might even be an afterthought, a byproduct of doing what they would have done regardless. But most amateur creators begin to dream of more… and that’s where ego comes in.

But how much is too much? We are taught (or at least I was) that to boast of one’s own accomplishments is to be rude, arrogant, and unlikeable. So is any display of your talent, any expectation of return in the form of attention or money or time, ‘boasting’ of your accomplishments?

In a sense, yes. But again, how much is too much? In this world with everyone and everything clamoring for your attention, it’s hard to get your work noticed. And though you could argue ‘pure’ creation should be done for its own sake (and only for love), you could also argue that the only point of creation is in sharing it. You could just sit and think of stories, or pictures in your head, or music only you can hear, and have some of the same sense of love and accomplishment–but the world would be deprived of sharing that with you. Where would we be if J.K. Rowling had sat on the train (and in the years following) and just daydreamed herself through life, never writing down a word? I think that we must accept that when you create, you want to share, and that is where ego begins.

Once we accept that base level of ego, the desire to share, then it gets tricky. Because, as I said above, in this crowded world you have to work to get noticed, and that work requires self-promotion. In an ideal world, you would put up a song or a picture or a story somewhere and then, of its own merit entirely, it would spread. But you have to put it somewhere people will see it, and in order to get people to see it, you have to attract them. You have to find some way of saying: “Look at me and my work.” And then hope that the work will speak for itself and grow on its own.

This self-promotion, this salesmanship, is a necessary beast in the world of creativity–but it’s hard for me (and I’m horrible at it). It feels wrong to put my work out there like it’s worth the attention; it feels wrong to think that anyone would want to waste their time reading what I write–and maybe they wouldn’t. But I want to try.

Is this too much ego? I don’t know. I certainly don’t think my work is that great; and I definitely don’t think what’s floating around in my head is in any way comparable to what floats around in J.K. Rowling’s head–my headspace is a jumbled mess of crap. But if I ever get it organized, if I ever get it down on paper, then it might just be worth someone’s time in exchange for, I hope, their entertainment. And maybe, if I’m very lucky, it might be worth some money. Or it might truly be complete garbage, and never worth anything, and my life will be a failure and survival of the fittest will see fit to discard me.

But I guess I have just enough ego to try. 🙂

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About J. Sevick

Just write.
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