Ticking Over Or Trailblazing? How Creative Are You?

In a recent interview, Michael Bungay Stanier, founder of boxofcrayons, spoke about doing great work, as opposed to just doing good work, or doing poor work.

He’s written a whole book, but to sum up his theory as I understand it, great work is the work that calls you, fires you up, fills you with passion and excitement, and makes a difference in your life, and the lives of others. It’s the work that pushes you, challenges you, reminds you what amazing things you’re capable of. We all need, at least part of the time, to be engaged in great work.

So, how might this apply to being creative?

Surely if we’re creating, if we’re making stuff, writing, painting, photographing and so on, we’re happy and fulfilled? When an artist creates, they fulfill that deep need in them. We cannot NOT create, so any time we’re pursuing our art, it means we’re satisfying that need, and must be feeling pretty good. Right?

Well, yes and no.

Yes, in that creating anything is good. It’s certainly better than not creating anything at all, or worse still, feeling so stuck you wonder if you’ll ever create anything of worth, or anything at all, ever again.

I often talk about the value of creating every day, and how this allows us to build and maintain momentum, how it gives us permission to create any place any time, not just on specially allocated occasions. There are a dozen other benefits of creating every day, which I’ll revisit in future posts.

But back to the good and the great.

Let’s take an example. What if you easily write a few poems each day. But those poems are kind of predictable, and not really much different to those you were writing five years ago?

They are good, the fact that you are creating and outpouring each day is of course good. But what about the great?

Let’s rephrase this another way.

In your creative work, are you trailblazing, or simply ticking over?

Trailblazing doesn’t have to mean creatively going where no-one in the world has ever gone before, although it certainly can be. It means trailblazing for yourself. Creating in a way YOU never have done before.

It might mean experimenting in a new medium, exploring new challenging themes, presenting your art to a wider audience, collaborating with other artists, or something else.

You know yourself if you’re simply ticking over or if you’re trailblazing.

We need your art, we need you to be great. You need you to be great. Pick a trail and let yourself blaze!

What could you do in the next 48 hours to start off down an exciting new pathway that makes you feel excited, motivated, and a little daunted too?

1 thought on “Ticking Over Or Trailblazing? How Creative Are You?”

  1. I keep trying new things, punch needle embroidery, embroidery on fabric, big hook crochet. I think it takes awhile, even a long time to get so comfortable with your creativity that you start stretching in new directions. Maybe these ideas have to incubate for awhile before you find that bravery. Sometimes outside forces cause us to trailblaze, when someone else has an idea for a writing project or we are involved in some kind of challenge. Just my thoughts!



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