The Creativity Conundrum


by Raymond M. Coulombe

Creative people have a hard time. We must create. It’s what we do. Unfortunately, we also have to survive in the world with everyone else. That requires little things like making a living. For most people, being creative gets moved into their spare time and people look upon it as a hobby. It’s not a hobby. It’s what we have to do. It’s what we are. The whole earning a living at a “real” job is just an ugly necessity.

Once in a while creative people discover a way to make a living doing creative stuff. They may find a job in something like advertising and think they are lucky. Bosses know creative people ache for a chance to be creative and usually abuse the heck out of them. The creative person has to produce to the unnatural demands of the business world. It’s pretty stressful. At the end of their career, they may look back and despair how little of their effort endures the test of time.

Book authors may happen to have a commercial hit with one of their books. Their publisher will demand they continue to churn out the same thing over and over again. That’s how we get endless book serials.

A few creative people have found ways to do exactly what they want to do. Some even make a living at it, but it’s not the driving force behind their art. Being able to bypass traditional commercial gate keeps, publishers, art houses, record labels, etc., allows people to do what they want to do. Sometimes their efforts will be in immediate demand. Often their efforts will do poorly on the current market. However, making new things is often only appreciated later. Even if you can’t make a living at it, you have the ability to share your work with the world. While that’s not a perfect situation, it’s a bit better than the old ways.

One of the major problems is that we live in an age where people do not have the free time Medieval peasants had. That makes it pretty hard to scratch that creative itch. Strange to think that with all our labor saving devices, we have to labor so hard for our daily bread that creativity is stifled.

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