A Theory of Creativity: Or, Why 2016 Really Sucked

To my audience….


Here we are, the last laps of 2016.

Forget the year’s headlines. Sporting events. Celebrity deaths. How much do they really affect you? (Being a proper blog, we tend away from politics.)

For me, 2016 was imbued with creativity. From online courses, to published essays, to live Facebook music broadcasts, I have stepped into the creator mindset

This shift is so fulfilling — but also so painful. 

Anybody there? 

In June, I became a “real” published author as a contributor to Belt Magazine’s Cleveland Neighborhood Guidebook. The launch party was scheduled for late June. 

Turns out that day would become the Cavs’ victory rally and parade day. Attendance at the launch party was shot. (So maybe I should take back that bit about sporting events not affecting me!)

Toward the end of this year, I started performing Christmas carols on violin and guitar via Facebook Live. Acquaintances hopped on and off without a like or comment. 

For every one acquaintance who follows the blog, dozens more pass it by.

While varied activities, each event was a milestone for me as a creator. And the common apathy toward each event tore into me. 

By the end of this year, I was ready to give up.

Why put so much time and effort into something that obviously nobody cares about? Just hang it up and stick to the alibi: “I can’t do it. I’m not creative.”

(Please do not take this as a complaint. I’m laying a foundation for a theory here….)

Creators need receivers

We’ve all heard this: “Everyone is creative as a child! But then, the ‘real world’ gets in the way. We get worried of what others think. To become creative, we need to stop caring.”

Hmmm…. yes, and no. 

Think back to your “creative life” as a child. You crayon a museum-worthy Buzz Lightyear. What’s the first thing you do?

Probably show it to your parents or teacher.

What do they do? 

Certainly they don’t walk away. Nor do they mention that spot you missed. 

No, they praise it unconditionally. They let the creator give to them, and they receive gratefully. 

And this, not the detachment from others’ remarks, is what creators need. 

Uncritical reception is useless. Long live uncritical reception

“Positive reception doesn’t help you improve,” they say. Maybe that’s true… but it does keep you going. 

Once we reach adulthood, many of us don’t have that person who will always take our gifts gratefully. 

So, we present our talents to the world, only for them to sit unused: or worse, challenged with petty criticism. 

This is what kills creativity: having no one to share it with. Or, forgetting you do have people to share it with, as you focus on those who ignore it. 

Why 2016 really sucked…

While the internet gives us more channels to share our content than ever before, it unfortunately also means more opportunity to be ignored.

Even from people whom you know, should they reciprocate with the giving of their talents, you would not ignore.

My audience is small, and growing. I’ve been doing this for a couple years now and most of them have not subscribed. What an audience! 

Sure, maybe I am not going to get the cunning social media strategy I need from my old teachers, or my mother. But they do give me the gift of an audience — a necessary condition for creativity.

Toward 2017…

New economics require that all professionals become content marketers. This means that we’ll all be creating. Those of us with experience know how hard this is.

It is fascinating that the most successful people, who have nothing to gain from it, have been the warmest and most helpful in getting my little blog running. 

If I see an acquaintance creating content online, I will interact with it (Even if I don’t think it’s that great.). 

So, if your resolution this year is to become a creator, take criticism. But also find that group who will gratefully receive. This is commonly other bloggers…even me, if you can stomach it!

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  1. Great exploration of being a new creator on this internet thing.
    I like that you’re exploring all these platforms: Facebook live, LinkedIn’s Pulse, YouTube, etc. Just keep pushing. There are 2 things to consider:

    1. “Crickets never hurt anyone.” Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media said that during a workshop. It means that if you’re creating and no one is paying attention, no problem. Just keep creating.

    When people start paying attention you will have a body of work for them to come explore, and stay a while.

    2. As you explore different topics and platforms, and keep creating, you’ll discover what you give a damn about and what your ideal platforms are.

    One thing I really dig about you is your hustle and willingness to throw yourself in. Also, you, Alex Powers (http://itsnotaboutthecell.com/) and I share an interest beyond the how-to. Folks need to know that it’s one thing to know how to do a VLOOKUP; it’s another thing to be an analyst who gets up off their ass to dig deep into data and chase down problems that previous analysts were resigned to living with.

    Keep pushing, my brother!

    • George Mount says:

      Love it, Oz! Thanks, you have been a HUGE inspiration. You are right — fortunately, I have amassed a pretty serious amount of content by now. That helps. Keep on truckin’!

  2. Patrick B says:

    Hey George, I hope it gets across to you that, at least occasionally, I do take a look at and appreciate your blog content. You know I don’t do any work with Excel, but I do eat up stuff like this post. With any luck, “In a year we all will be together, if the Fates allow,” and we can team up for some Facebook live caroling. Looking forward to it!

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