The Creativity Obligation

Have you ever seen something that you’re passionate about – a book, a web service, a gig, an exhibition – and you’ve known, somewhere in your deepest know-er that it’s just not good enough. You’ve felt annoyance, frustration, even anger?  A lot of people have – and those feelings, left un-utilised create people who are cynical, critical and ultimately very bitter.


To me, those feelings engender what I like to call the Creativity Obligation – you simply must act creatively when faced with these feelings, because the alternative is to cynically shrug your shoulders and pass comment, but never actually enact any change:  change that your brain – and sometimes your whole body and spirit – demand you to make.


You know it could be better – so go make it better.


Of course there are limits to everyone’s time and energy – as Frank Chimero said “In life, the first challenge is to survive. The second is to do so in a way that allows us to live better.”  – but even if you take the moment that feeling happens, and just write down what you felt and how you could make it better, you’re being creative.  That idea may never come to fruition, but you’re putting something into the world in an attempt to improve something that’s a) valuable to you and your life; and, you believe, to other people’s lives and b) simply not catered for by the current solutions offered.


But more than that, in accepting the Creativity Obligation, you’re adding to the single most important resource you have as a human:  your own self-worth.  This most precious of resources has been woefully eroded over recent generations: – successive governments from Major, to Blair to Cameron have insisted that we continue to place our self-worth in objects outside ourselves; cars, clothing, houses and the like. 


Accepting the Creativity Obligation reminds us that true self-worth comes from inside – from our passion, our intellect and our creativity.  Self-worth is grown through knowing that things can be better and enacting change – even if that’s just a scribbled few words in a notebook that you recognise as your truth. 


No one who’s changed the world has ever done so without a strong sense of self-worth.  And being creative whenever the need strikes you – learning to recognize that feeling and recording it – is an act of reclamation, of defiance and of real power.

The Creativity Obligation