Three Levels of Creative People

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It’s not that hard to make something we want, or something that we think is cool or impressive. It’s much harder to create something other people not only want, but need.
— Ryan Holiday

As far as I can tell there are three distinct phases of development in creative people:

Level I: The People-Pleaser

The first is the fearful, insecure and people-pleasing phase; initially when people start creating they are overly sensitive to people’s comments and judgments.

They're too worried about what people will think of their work to fully embrace their individuality and to tell things how they really see them.

They'd rather stay safely inside of confined norms where they know they'll be encouraged and agreed with. They don’t really create for themselves, but to please and get validation from other people.

They might also have read a couple of marketing books which talk about adding value and creating with your audience in mind, which is good advice, but not if you haven’t been through stage two.

Level II: The Detached Asshole

Stage two happens when you realize that it makes no difference at all what people think of your work, and you stop giving the slightest shit about what people think of your creativity.

You create the things you want to create, and you do them your way. If it helps other people then great, but you aren’t going to waste a second of your precious time compromising your creativity for the sake of people-pleasing.

Your motivation is completely internal; you create for the sake of creating itself, and are completely detached from the opinions and needs of others. 

Level III: The Conscious-Contributor

The third stage comes when you realize that you actually do care about people, and want to help them with your work; and so the pendulum swings back to creating for other people just like in the first stage.

The difference now however is that you’re not afraid of what people think of your work, yet you choose to focus on your audience and to bend your creative energy to their needs.

You write for the audience from a position of strength rather than from insecurity, and that makes a world of difference to your subjective creative experience and the quality of your work. 

You’re no longer crumbling at the feet of the faceless judgmental audience, but you’re reaching out with an open hand from the good of your heart.

I don’t think you can skip stage two

As far as I can tell you can’t skip from stage one through to stage three; you need to go through a stage of complete detachment from all expectation to really develop confidence in your ability and to learn to be creative for yourself.

Of course I could be wrong with that, but that's how it seems to me so leave me a comment and if you disagree.

I also don’t think it’s unlikely for people to convince themselves that they’re stage three when they’re really stage one. 

A good litmus test if you’re a writer is the following: can you write a controversial article that will polarize your audience?

If the answer is no, then I think you’ve got some asshole-practice to do.

If you’re harmless you’re not virtuous, you’re just harmless — like a rabbit.
— Jordan Peterson

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