Each morning I’m faced with what may seem to some a daunting task: to create thousands of compelling, new challenges that inspire our generation to take action on different causes. After writing challenge #589, I began to question how many ways one can really say, “Clean up your local park because, um, the earth is kind of a big deal!” When will this magical creative spark that I seem to have summoned finally fade out?
Here’s the big secret: your creative potential depends on how you choose to keep it alive.
Let me explain with the help of Hardcore Punk rebel, Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat, Fungazi). He describes the DIY counterculture as this:
“It’s an area in which ideas can be presented without having to go through the filtration or perversion of profiteering. So if we’re not worried about selling things, then we can actually think […] What I received from this counterculture was a gift; the permission to create freely. And my reaction was to take care of this gift and keep it alive because it continues to give.”
Which leads me to the part where I share solid advice:
Give yourself the permission to create freely. Do it for real. Grab some paper and create a permission slip and stick it on your desk! Mine says “Creativity happens when you break free.” Though it’s not-for-profit, it still has sales targets and financial goals. But when we create with the intention to sell, we shift our thinking from “I have the potential to create something authentic that will connect with others” to “I am working to create something that hits a numerical goal, and if it doesn’t hit that goal, my creativity has failed me”. That’s a big difference.
Trends are not friends. This is one I’ve wrestled with quite a bit. There’s a reason certain things spread like wildfire, especially on Instagram. Icelandic landscapes? Check. A couple standing in front of an epic wilderness backdrop, holding hands, looking away from each other? Check and check. While these may be beautiful images, simply replicating them does not fuel your creative flame. Every time I create content based off a trend, I catch myself and ask “How can I take this idea, and infuse it with something that no one else would think of doing?”
Go back to the source. There are times when I feel utterly stuck. This is when I pause and go back to the source of why I’m creating in the first place. What compels me to care about the environment? Why do I want to end gender discrimination? It’s easy to fall down a rabbit hole of ideas, often losing sight of whether any of them truly serve your original purpose. Keeping your meaningful “why” statement handy will help keep your content meaningful, too.
I want you to think of creativity like you think of hardcore punk rock. Loud and unpredictable, characterized by rebellious lyrics. Creativity performed by someone you might hesitate to invite to meet your dear, old grandmother for tea. It’s the only way you’ll create something that can change the world.
By Inna Yasinska
Inna Yasinska is a Digital Media Strategist and Content Creator for the We365 App, and Me To We, a social enterprise offering ethically made products and life-changing volunteer experiences.
You can find Inna on Instagram: @innayas