You're not a creative type

A manifesto for a new age of anxiety.

Epistemic status: Inspirational.

Don't pray to creativity at the altar.
That's premium mediocre.
That's a meme of our generation.
The most basic thing!
And the anxiety of our generation.
We will be remembered for this. Just another cultural flicker:
"The time when everybody had a newsletter."

Don't aim for creativity.
Don't aim for self-expression.

Instead, just do your thing.
Do a thing that matters to you, or interests you, or doesn't interest you, if you prefer.
Do your work.
Let that be your self-expression.

Don't aim to be the next Steve Jobs.
Don't build that fairytale for you to suffocate under.
Instead, be a tinkerer in their garage.
That's how Jobs started, you know?!
Work on big things, small things. Vague intellectual contraptions or neat technical gadgets.
Whatever you care about.

And you do care about something.
No need searching for it.
Just stop running away from it!

And in that moment, from the tip of your paintbrush, from your finger on the keyboard, your hand on the spade, a world will emerge.
An infinite universe that breathes through you.

You're not a creative type.
There you have it.
It's fine.
You're free!
Now stop worrying and do your work.

Don't pray to creativity, or consciousness for that matter.
They're too abstract. You cannot love them.
Pray to God.

Related / influences:

  • @RoamFu's summary of Liz Gilbert's Big Magic kicked this off.

  • Kahlil Gibran's poem On Work, which I first saw in this tweet.

  • Steven Pressfield's The War of Art and his follow-up texts.

  • The Japanese concept of Ikigai or "reason for being". A very Japanese take on the meaning of life, about which I learnt from Ken Mogi's book after I had written this piece.

  • Paul Graham famously recommended to keep your identity small