Your Creative Contribution

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Those of us who want to create want to have an effect. We want to reach people, inspire people shock people, to somehow change people. We’re catalysts, producing change (and perhaps being changed by the interaction).

But we must also remember that we creatives have different effects. This is important as we can become obsessed with having one kind of effect, and forget the many others. If we focus on having a specific type of effect, we loose our chance to be much more, or be who we are.

Think of all the different ways you can effect people with our creativity. Imagine life as a building – where does your creativity come in?

We can be foundations. Our creativity can provide people something to build on in the world, giving them something solid on which to make more. We’ve all read that good novel that made us go “yes, and now.” We’ve all seen that documentary that said “I get it, and now see where to go next.” You can be that solidity that lets others grow.

We can be pillars. We can create that work that is seminal, that people refer to for years, decades, or centuries. We can stand as an example people rally around. This may seem challenging, but if you’re a specialist in your area, no matter how minor, you may be a pillar. That novel you wrote that is very specific may truly be the best of its kinds for a hundred years.

We can be the roof. Our work my be that which protects people, creative stories that heal the soul or provide comfort. It is these works that restore and heal, that shield the mind against despair and hopelessness.

We can be the alchemy. Our works can interact with the creativity of others, to simulate them into thinking and growing. Your story, your advice book may explore and challenge ideas, and thus lead others to think deeper. Such works inspire new ones, and create even stronger creative results.

We can be the decorations. A light and frivolous film is fun, and fun is important to cheer us and to inspire us and relax us. We may create something that is inspiringly artistic, a monument to what can be done. We can enhance the experience of others, such as when a story explores common tropes in a new way.

Your creative results may be one of these – or perhaps one I haven’t come up with in these simple metaphors. You may aim to achieve a specific kind of creative result, which is laudable. Focus is important for success.

But keep in mind that your creative path may lead you to other areas. The epic novel you write to stand the test of time may turn out to be more comforting to others, and that is still an achievement. The light short story we created can turn out to be timeless, a pillar which rallies others. Be open to your creative work having different results than intended.

But as always, keep creating and keep seeking the best results for others.

Steven Savage