I think that there are two steps to creating anything. There is the first step, which many may think is the hardest. This is the step of the actual creation. This is the late nights, the dim rooms, the lightbulbs and the genius. This is the process of writing and retracting, editing and rephrasing, speaking, and realigning until all that is left is art. Then, there is the second part, after most people assume the hard work is already done. This step, which seems to trip up so many creators, is the stage of sharing our work to the masses. To answer the question, why is it so hard to create, we have to look at both steps.
I’ve noticed that there is this illusion painted of creating art, as if it is an epiphany of genius, a spark in the dark that suddenly comes to the minds of lucky individuals. While, yes, maybe some great pieces have been formed in a flash of the mind, this is a truly heartbreaking lie to feed to the masses, to set up people under false circumstances who wait for their “moment” of excellence to appear in their minds. None of this is true.
Creating is to work as the sun is to life. To create, one must go through a process, a vicious cycle of internal reflection, self-questioning, purging, retching, and then do it all over again. One must practice their craft over and over, spewing “dirty water until the facet runs cleans” as Ed Sheeran described the process. One must fight the demons of distractions, the fears of self-doubt, and the inklings of pain that come with every touch of the keyboard. One must be willing to stare at an empty page and tell themselves that they will not give up. One must be willing to wake up early, or stay up late and purge the words out of their veins. To create, one must suffer.
That is what makes creating so rare. It is hard because the majority of people don’t want to go through the creative process. They don’t want to force their brain to turn and churn and edge out life changing work. People want to do shallow work. We want to get it all done as quick as possible. We want to send emails and make some calls, mindlessly labor away, then come home and watch some angry newscaster curse the world, or watch reruns of a years old sitcom, until we are tired. Then we do it all again.
Is creating, is living in the deepest parts of ourselves, is forcing ourselves to relive the darkest moments of our lives so that we can turn them into art, healthy? Why do creators seem the most damaged? It is like the ‘normal’ people, who don’t create, live healthier lives. We only count the money, and the freedom that comes with great art, but never the true costs seemingly associated with creating. It is as if the creator must relive the moments that ache, that pain in order to create art. The creator must live in the fire so long that their only option is to be burnt. But they couldn't live any other way even if they wanted to.
Why is creating so hard? Why do creators suffer the most? Were they born this way? Destined to live a life of solitude, of melancholy and dim lights? We never see the true price of art, until it is too late. Sometimes I can’t write, because I know that my soul is too fragile to go into that place again. Sometimes I take days, weeks away from the notepad because I know how many days it will take to heal from the wrenching that comes with creativity. Sometimes we lose the brightest artists because they have lived in the fire for way too long, but this was their path. Creating, therefore, is not a choice, but a destiny. A destiny that, provides one an outlet for the cripplingly void inside, until there is nothing left.
It is hard to create when your mind is filled with all of the distracting images, push notifications, and “news stories” of things that in the daily life truly have no value. Things, that if when we are dying, we were presented with a total of time wasted on, we would be ashamed. We must, immediately, rid our lives with things that are meant to waste our time. Only then we can start the first step.
The first step of creating is forcing ourselves to actually do that work. To live in the solitude and churn out deep work. It is a process of introspection, and finding what truly lies deep inside and turning that inside out. But maybe artists are not the smart ones. Maybe those who don’t create have realized that the ghosts that we lock away deep in our subconscious are there for a reason, and should stay there. That there is no good that comes from fighting the dark that we push inside. Because no matter how much money artists make, maybe spending too much time in the depths of our soul is what leads to the news flashes of suicide, substance abuse, and relationship issues in creators. Maybe this is why we lose creators such as Chester Bennington, Chris Cornell, and Robin Williams.
Every week it is the same process for me. I sit and stare, wrench and purge my soul of the hidden truths lying in the depths of my being, and I fight with every piece of me. I fight to stop writing, to go back to what I was doing, to go back to scrolling through feeds and reading pointless articles of what NFL players do in their free time. Fight to stop this process of creating, but I don’t. I shave off every sense of identity until I am just a pile of words and ideas, of thoughts that sink into my keyboard. I work up all the courage I have to hit the “submit” button, fall back into my chair to try and gather myself, and then I do it all again every week.
On the second step, we live in a world that praises creatives, that holds these people to the highest of esteem, but yet diminishes and disregards lower level creatives. We praise great work, but tear apart work that doesn’t hit the bar, even though great is all perspective. We praise artists who have reached a pinnacle, but trash those who haven’t. If you’re a middle aged man who only plays guitar, you may be a great artist, or a “bum”, it all depends on other’s perspectives. If you’re a man who works two days a week, and spends the rest writing, you may be deemed to “lazy”, or you may be Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
Why is it so hard to put ourselves into the universe? Why do we use surnames, and fear retaliation if we let our soul’s speak? Because the world is harsh to those that try to accomplish the things that we fear. If you’ve always wanted to be a poet, but never work at it, what is the easiest way to feel better about yourself? To tear apart other poet’s work?
It is a terrifying reality to face for creators. It is a process of shedding our skins, developing the courage to allow the world to see us at our true light, see our true soul, not the image we put up as a facade to please the masses. It is peeling back layer after layer until we are at our most vulnerable selves, until we have nothing to hid behind, until we are authentically true. Then, it is showing that self to the public to allow them to see. I don’t think it is that creators are afraid of having their work looked down upon, I think it is that creators are afraid of showing the world who they really are, who they are under all of the falsities that we hid behind in daily lives. I think the hardest part of creating is removing those blinders, and shedding a light on our true identities.
Why else do I have 100 poems that I am unwilling to publish, and only certain topics that I’ll allow my fingers to post online?