The act of creating something is vital to our lives in so many ways. It can make us better individually; it can help those around us; it can even spark whole political movements. And it’s not just about the arts: cooking a simple meal or designing a more efficient car can be just as transformative as a book or a song.
In The Power of Your Writing, Winnie Lim declares that writing and sharing—or creating in general, for our purposes—is “honoring yourself and your experiences” and that “at the same time, you honor the world around you, and your place in it.” Creating something is an act of self-expression which gives us such incredible power that even Mahatma Gandhi once wrote, “I want freedom for the full expression of my personality.”1 And it makes sense as it effects so many aspects of our lives.
Let’s just cut right to it—creating is hard. It’s so much easier to consume, to be passive: grab some fast food instead of thinking about what you really want and making it from scratch; quit writing the essay before you even finish the second paragraph; watch a TV show instead of building a blanket fort for your kids. But it’s exactly that difficulty that makes the act of creating so incredible. And it’s exactly why you should persevere through the difficulty. Because what’s on the other side is so special that it almost has to be shrouded—only those that persevere get the reward that awaits on the other side.
When you push through and create something, the first thing you feel is accomplishment and maybe even a tinge of pride in your work. It may be imperfect—maybe it’s even awful—but you did it. With your hands and mind and heart, you willed something into existence with nothing more than raw materials. There’s a deep satisfaction that comes with it. That satisfaction will blossom into happiness, and that happiness into empowerment.
Jason Fried, co-founder of Basecamp, in a 2014 Reddit AMA said, “something is a success if you want to do it again. And even more so if you look forward to doing it again.” You did this, creating something, and you might even do it again. That’s success.
It’s quite possible that you hated the whole damn thing, but if you kept trying, congratulations! That’s self-reliance—you used your abilities, judgment, and resources to make something happen, and that, my friend, is worth every minute you invested into your creative act of self-expression. You have hopefully increased your confidence and independence, both of which are vital skills to have.
At the very least, you’ve learned something, in fact, you’ve probably learned a lot. And because of that, you now have the ability to help others: you can share your experiences with others and inspire them to create; you can collaborate with like minded people, combining ideas and innovating; or you can teach others how to do the things that you have learned.
Even the simplest act of creating has all of these benefits: self-expression, happiness, empowerment, self-reliance, learning, innovating, and inspiring. Why let another day go passively by when we can have all that?
- The Essential Gandhi [return]