Why Do You Create?

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That’s a good question to ask ourselves.

What is it we’re seeking? Why do we desire to tell stories? What’s the purpose of our being here and exploring who we are?

I heard this interviewer explain that Zayn Malik from One Direction shouldn’t be leaving the group now that, “he’s got fame and fortune and everything he could ever want.”

Sorry, it’s not everything we want. When will people get this? That’s not why we create.

Look, those things are fine. But they’re not sustainable. The external end results of doing something are transitory. We don’t create to get things. We create for creating’s sake.

Matthew Weiner, the creator of “Mad Men” says, “We have a desire to make something out of the feelings we have.”

That’s it. Whether it’s writing poetry or singing a song or acting a scene or painting on a canvas, we’re imbuing the moments of our creation with our own self. That self is a feeling self. From a deeply profound level of self-expression, that’s it—that’s why we’re doing it.

It gets tricky because we constantly use monetary value as the yardstick of whether or not our creating matters. So, one person’s creating is better if it makes millions of dollars, or he’s rich and famous. Another person’s creating is better if it gets millions of “likes” and a franchise. So we equate creating with leading to bigger things and everyone taking notice.

Mark Duplass, in his recent SXSW speech, talks about our belief in getting “somewhere” and how everything’s supposed to change once you’ve created something that everyone says matters. So we work to get to a new level in our lives and then we think, “This time the cavalry is f*&king beating down your door.” And then you realize, “How is it possible that the cavalry is not coming?”

And that can be disappointing to any artist because of our relationship with what we think creating leads to.

But, as Duplass says, “Here’s the good news: Who gives a fuck about the cavalry? You are the cavalry… No one can stop you from doing exactly what you want to do. If you can accept that the cavalry won’t come, and if you can be the cavalry, it gives you a chance to be happy.”

You don’t need a corporation to acknowledge you anymore. You can self-create. You can put something up that draws people to you. You can green light yourself. You don’t need validation or support or admiration or, God forbid…approval from anyone else to tell you how or what to create.

You also don’t need those things to dictate your happiness.

So it’s OK to want our art to be received and appreciated. It’s OK to have goals and to work toward meeting them. It’s OK to have dreams and watch them unfold as we had hoped.

And what happens is we stop waiting for someone’s permission before we create, and we realize that whether or not they do come, we have a lot more power in creating than we ever realized.

And that then becomes yet another real reason why we create.

(And good for Zayn Malik, by the way.)

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Anthony Meindl
Anthony Meindl is an award-winning writer-director-producer, creativity expert, inspirational speaker, and artistic director of Anthony Meindl’s Actor Workshop (AMAW) with studios in Los Angeles, New York, London, Sydney, and Vancouver.
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