Thoughts: Creativity and Identity

“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.” -Cyril Connoll

I came across this quote while researching for a project.  It sparked a dichotomy of feelings within me that I feel compelled to share with all of you.

Initially, I fell in love with the quote.  It spoke to me.  It says that in writing or completing tasks, it is better to do it for your own satisfaction than to do those same tasks for the satisfaction of others, and giving up your own identity in the process.  Now bear with me…as ethereal a concept as this is, I hope that you can all see the deeper meaning of the quote and understand the point it is trying to get across.  There was an old story that may convey the message a bit more clearly.

The story went a little something like this:  One day in an elementary school, a teacher gave her class an assignment to draw a tree.  The brown and green crayons ran out quickly and children had to wait their turn to use those colors.  While everyone else was still waiting on their green and brown colors, a little girl stood up and announced that she was finished.  When the teacher walked over, she realized that the tree the little girl had drawn was purple and shades of red.  The teacher corrected the little girl and said “I’m sorry sweetie, but I’ve never seen a purple and red tree before.”  The small child responded only by saying, “That’s too bad.”

Now as much as I, and perhaps some of you, would love to do exactly as you please in your writing, assignments, and thinking, it is just not a possibility.  A wise woman recited a quote to me written by John Donne; “No man is an island.”  What we do doesn’t only affect ourselves anymore.  Our actions have consequences.  In today’s world, we are expected to assist in work that others need done to complete tasks of their own.  Our employer or our professor will ask for us to “draw a tree” for them multiple times a day and for many different circumstances.  I ask that you all take a moment before beginning your task, not to “fight the power” or “break the chains”, but instead, to reflect on how you would create this tree of yours before quickly snatching for the green and brown crayons. 

I believe that exploration outside of typical constraints can lead to learning, growth, and discovery.  By infusing your creative self into projects you can become more passionate about the task at hand.  This passion leads to a better product and eventually a more rewarding journey.  We need to remain conscious of who we are as people, while at the same time, satisfying the needs of our employers and professors.  Just remember that you must remain mature enough to assess a situation and understand when it is appropriate to think outside of the box.  As challenging as this may be sometimes, I would hope that the creative spark within us all doesn’t dim anytime soon.  Think outside the box, but with certain restrictions, and you will be amazed at the things you can achieve! 2.0out

Perhaps being overly creative when compiling data in a spreadsheet can make things a little….awkward.


2 comments on “Thoughts: Creativity and Identity

  1. Johnny Kirk on said:

    I have so many mixed feeling on this. On one hand, I like having explicit guidelines for the work I am assigned. It is nice to know exactly what is expected of me and how to go about accomplishing it. Then again, I have experienced a situation where I followed the metrics laid out for me and was therefore accused of cheating because my work resembled classmates, although we were all working with the same case and data. But then I start to think that if I get creative my focus will stray from the assignment and I will be way off. I think it is better to “write for yourself and have no public” on the creative side, but when the public is the ultimate decider on performance it may be better to write in their favor. Remember, perception is reality.

  2. Nick Kochetta on said:

    Johnny, those are all great points. It was a tough topic for me to address. I really just wanted others to be conscious of it in their daily lives. As you mentioned in your comment, I too had mixed feelings about the issue of creativity and identity in work but I’m glad you shared your perspective. Thanks for your feedback! As always, we appreciate it!

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