The Endless Delicious Dangerous Allure Of The New

A large part of being creative is constantly exploring and seeking out exciting, alluring new stuff.

You might have heard a version of this described as magpie syndrome or just shiny new object syndrome, where anything that’s, well, new and delicious and shiny,  catches our attention, suddenly becomes the most important and alluring focus of our life and everything else gets cast aside.

image: Neil Kronberg

Oh what focus! But unfortunately it usually only lasts until the next shiny new thing comes along soon after.

At the root of this allure is curiosity. That desire to know what you don’t yet know, to see what you’ve not yet seen, to experience what you’ve not yet experienced.

And this is a good thing for creative people, it’s a major driving force.

Without it perhaps we’d never create anything, or maybe we’d just create tired carbon copies of whatever we had created before, never reaching out any further or in new directions.

When this allure of the new starts to cause problems though is when it becomes the only thing we focus on.

We believe that this current new object/ idea/ person will be an instant solution to all of our problems, and the key to happiness that we’ve been missing all of our lives.

As with many other areas of life, it’s important to find a balance, and what works best for other people might not work so well for you.

So how do you find this balance?

How do you know if you’re seeking out new ideas and objects and inspiration in a way that’s genuinely going to help you be more creative, or just using it as a way of avoiding what you’re already engaged in?

Above all else, be completely honest with yourself. Always.

Don’t get tricked by one of the most devious characters known to artists  – Little Miss If Only.

Her killer ploy is to convince you that you’d be far more creative “if only” you had a new set of pens, some different ideas, a little more time, and a hundred other things.

It’s tied in with the promise that, once you have this delicious new thing, you will suddenly be bestowed with magical creative powers and be able to create like never before.

But all that happens is an endless cycle of procrastination, as you get drawn to one new object, one new “promise” after the other.

There’s a crucial truth here to creating that actually goes against what may be seen as logical. Once we get this, it’s so much easier to give up that endless chase for new.

The truth is: It’s easier to create with less.

If you had in front of you a selection of 30 coloured pencils, 7 different sketch pads and a hundred cards, each with an idea for something to draw, and you were given 10 hours to draw something, how quickly and easily do you think you’d actually get down to creating?

What if instead you were given one standard graphite pencil, one sketchbook, and asked to draw something that represented a happy time for you, and you had 15 minutes? How quickly would you be able to start to create then?

My guess is that you would create far more easily and immediately in the second situation.

Some of the greatest art work ever created has come from a simple pencil and paper, or a typewriter.

If you never left your room again, you already have enough ideas and stories and passion and emotion in you to create unique art for years!

Beware of this distraction, this endless delicious allure of the new.

Yes, remember it is based in a restless curiosity which we need to be creative, to keep evolving as artists, to keep our creative work interesting and stimulating.

But stay vigilant, and stay honest with yourself. Don’t fall into the if only trap, or use the pursuit of new stuff as a way of avoiding creating altogether.

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