The World Will Be a Better Place If You Create What You Want to Create

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“The world will be a better place if you create what you want to create.” —Dan Norris, Create Or Hate

Sometimes I wonder why I’m so fixated on creating things (and on writing, especially); there are days when it feels painful and pointless. (Am I some kind of a masochist?)

Making art hurts.

I look around at all the creators who’ve gone before me, and while I sometimes hear things like, “Oh, I love [fill in the person’s name]!” (end of sentence), it’s way more common to hear things like, “I like [fill in the person’s name], but [list of all the things the critic doesn’t like]” or “I like [fill in the person’s name], but I wish [list of all the ways the critic thinks the creator could improve the work].”

(I’ll note that all the people I hear criticizing generally create nothing themselves. Dan Norris actually addresses this in his book, quoting Ricky Gervais: “It’s better to create something that others criticize than to create nothing and criticize others.”)

He quotes Seth Godin, “Making art hurts. But it’s better than the alternative.”

It’s true, paraphrasing Brené Brown1 and Teddy Roosevelt2, I’d rather be in the arena.

Making art makes the story better.

“In each one of us there is a creator. Someone who wants to use their head and their hands to make the story better.” —Dan Norris

I wonder sometimes if the work I do matters (at all, much less in the big scheme of things), but then I think about how it makes my story better, if nothing else. I mashed together two things I love to do (read and write) and turned them into Maison d’Evangeline, something that didn’t exist that long ago. Every day, I get to tell stories as Evangeline Henry Bellefontaine. I get to write. I get to read. (I get to write about what I read.) Super creative? No, not really. But it’s made my life better. And I’ve met some interesting people already. I’ve heard from a few of them that the writing is helping them, even if only in a one-degree-turn kind of way.

When we decide to make something, we think it has to change the world, and maybe that’s too much pressure. (It’s paralyzing.) What if it only changed your world? Would that be enough?

Dan Norris writes, “Austin Kleon3 and Elizabeth Gilbert4 both advocate undertaking your creative projects as hobbies before making a living with them. As hobbies, you have less stress and there’s less on the line, enabling you to relax and free up your creativity.”

Maybe start by creating for yourself. Things tend to snowball.

Making art makes you more empathetic to the world around you.

“Becoming a more empathic person makes you more understanding, more grateful, less negative.” —Dan Norris

We could use more of those things.

If you want to create, help someone else create. Understand how hard it is to do the work, to take the criticism (especially from ourselves), and to keep repeating that — over and over, with no promise of any sort of payoff other than the ability to do the work.

“Create more things,” Dan says.

I agree.

The world will be better for it.

Footnotes

  1. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
  2. “Citizenship in a Republic” speech
  3. Show Your Work; love his newsletter, too.
  4. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

About the author

E.H. Bellefontaine

Evangeline Henry Bellefontaine is the fictional writer behind Maison d'Evangeline (and More Beautiful Good on Medium). She writes mostly on the topics of bibliotherapy (books + therapy), personal growth, and doing the work. Follow by subscribing to Bibliothérapie.

By E.H. Bellefontaine

Guiding Quote

A house extends skyward.
Like a tiny but proud cathedral,
it wishes to generate the highest
and the best in its inhabitants.
— John Truby

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