Consuming Creativity

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

Tyrants and those that would control us fear creativity. They can be out-imagined, out-thought, and thrown down often by means they didn’t foresee. Tyrants fear creativity.

Though tyrants may try to ape it, or own it, or redirect it, tyrants also try to hold people in their iron grip. Those they cannot deceive or bring over to their cause, they gladly terrorize. Indeed, such people revel in power anyway, and will do so until overthrown and thoroughly broken.

That terror can consume creativity.

When you are afraid, your resources rally to survive. In the terror produced by tyrants, your creative abilities easily focus on simply getting through the day. This can sap your creative powers, as you are spending so much effort surviving, you can’t imagine what is needed to overthrow a tyrant and give them the fate they deserve.

I don’t think tyrants entirely do this by design – terror is the coin of their realm. But they certainly are glad to have you so worried you can’t scheme against them.

Therefore it is the duty of a creative person to maintain that creative spark at all costs, because losing it costs all.

The simplest way is to make space for creative work – to draw, to write, to speak, to joke. To keep that area of your life where creativity is more than survival doesn’t just keep the flame of imagination going, it powers it. As long as you can see new vistas and make new songs, you can find new ways to survive the tyrant’s rein, and do your part to end it.

A creative should also remember that by keeping their creativity going, they help others. A song can soothe those terrorized by would-be rulers. A joke can lead to laughter and release, giving people a moment to see how small the tyrant is. A game can inspire and lead people to new ideas to resist and defeat a dictator. Remembering what your creativity does for others aids you.

But there is one other path – to use survival to inspire you.

Turning your creative energies to survive and prosper under a tyrant, to work towards their just reward, can be a great motivator. To dream of ways to communicate to others, to undermine evil, to free the imprisoned harnesses your creativity. It also gives you a sense of power – you have gone from surviving to finding the potential of triumph.

We should take joy in the ways we creatively battle the evils of the world.

But one should always cultivate a diversity of creativity – we should sing while we scheme against the king, the acid words of a good joke can be turned to the clever worlds of a good polemic. We should always keep that raw fire of creativity burning, not only taking pleasure in the eventual defeat of a dictator. Keeping that primal creativity keeps the infinite potential at the ready.

Besides, if one focuses only on the overthrow of a tyrant richly deserving defeat, then one may loose touch with all the creative things they can do. If you do that, you might become a tyrant yourself as you loose that vital, human, imagination.

Steven Savage

Sharing Your Work And That One Person

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

We want our creative works to reach people – to inspire, to guide, to entertain, to salve pains. We want to change the world in our own way. So do many other people.

Being a creative puts us in a curious position of feeling like we’re competing. If you had someone say they wished to feed the hungry, they wouldn’t worry about competition. If you knew someone who wished to clean up the environment, they’d welcome all comers. But creative works tend to make us competitive because people have limited attention.

There is rarely a shortage of the poor. There are no shortage of environmental challenges. But when we wish for attention, well, that’s a limited resource.

Which is why, if we want to make people laugh, educate, and overthrow tyrants, we have to rethink how we reach out.

We have to think “how can I help.” If our creative work has value – and let us assume it does – then the real question is how do you help people out.

How do you get the right people to read your book, appreciate your art, and change the world because of a single poem? There’s no right answer, because every work is different. But asking that question of “how do I help” is important.

(If creativity is your career, “how do I help and make a living” ramps up the challenge).

However, there is one thing to consider – have you reached one person and changed their lives?

Many an author or artist or musicians knows this experience. There’s that one person that follows your book, hung up your art, or told you your song got you through a tough time. That single moment is valuable, unshakeable, and powerfully personal.

Those are the moments to look into. How did you reach them? Why did you make a difference? What happened?

Then you can ask how to repeat this moment. How do you repeat that success in having your comic or game get into the right hands? That one person may be the key to transforming the world.

Sadly, you may not be able to find a lesson. Many of we creatives keep shambling forward and trying. But consider the following:

Even if you reach only that one person, there’s hope you can find out how to reach more.

Even if you reach only that one person, that’s one work. Your next work may reach a million.

Even if you reach only that one person, if you reach the right person, they change the world.

That one person is your sign to not give up. After all, that person didn’t give up on you . . .

Steven Savage

You Are The Art

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

We wish our creative works to reach people. We want to shake the thrones of tyrants and overturn oppression. We want to make people laugh, to soothe their cares in the world with fun. We want to sneak behind boredom and stab it in the back to free people’s imaginations.

Yet, will we ever do this?

Will our works reach others? Will they touch them in the ways we hope? Will we inspire others like we were once inspired?

You can never be sure of this. Your work may not be recieved in the way you expected. Time to spread your creations may not be at hand. Your latest creation may have flaws that keep it from reaching others, flaws you don’t know until it’s completed.

We may not change the world with one book or song. We may not change it in a hundred. It can be frustrating, these unkowns, these failures, these unsureties.

If you have these frustrations, be assured you’re not alone. Your friends and fellows share them. People you pass in the streets have novels they fear won’t be loved and art they hate.

But still, what can you do? WIll your work change the world?

Perhaps, but consider what you do change for sure – yourself.

As you create something, you change. You learn new skills and hone ones that exist. You think thoughts you never had before. You study and dream and practice. Each work you create changes the world – by changing yourself.

The person that starts writing a book is not the same person who completes it. If you are aware of it, that new you becomes a better person – wiser, more skilled, and more aware.

This new person you’ve become can change the world. They have better understanding, make better decisions, are more adept at their creativity. You are your own creative work, and you become more by pursuing your dreams and creations.

This new person may fail at one creative work, yet they have grown. Their next story, or piece of art, or book may shake the world. They may realize how to promote old work with new insights. The future you has more and more chances to change the world – because they grow with each creation.

May your books be read, your songs be sung, your art appreciated. May you change the world for the better, but always appreciate how everything you create helps you become an even better person.

And, consider that as you evolve in your writing or drawing, how stealthily and subtly it happens. Your sentences and verses push you forward to become something more. The tyrants, both men and ideas, won’t see you evolving or growing. They won’t know how you might evolve.

Until, perhaps, it is too late for them.

Steven Savage