Is Focusing Your Creativity Important?

At first glance, this cartoon by Emily Flake (originally published in The New Yorker) provides amusing, yet sage, advice:

Maybe if your creativity had fewer outlets, it would come out of you with more force.

But when I think about it, I don’t find such sentiments amusing or wise…

Many people, following the old adage of “practice makes perfect,” think that specializing in one medium or artistic pursuit will make for a greater proficiency. But creativity and art are not necessarily like surgery.

Art does not require perfection. So-called mistakes, even those acknowledged by the artist, do not hurt anyone. But more importantly, creativity is about expression — and the joy of creating.

And joy, like big wet kisses, can be sloppy. (Some people even prefer their art — and kisses — sloppy.)

I think one of the problems people have creating things is this fear of not being perfect. It holds us back, keeps us from expressing ourselves, keeps us from the joy of making.

So does thinking that if we’d only focus on one medium or form of art that we’d get better — because when we do and the “creativity doesn’t come out with better force,” we feel inadequate, talentless.

This expectation of perfection doesn’t inspire us to try another medium, form, or style; it leaves us saying, “Forget it.” But we shouldn’t forget it, we shouldn’t give up on art. We should forget about the expectations of perfection in creating, of any notions of pleasing others with our art.

Even though we know we’d never get past Simon Cowell if we auditioned on Idol, we still enjoy singing in the car or with friends — so why do we limit ourselves when it comes to art?

To answer the titular question of this post, “Is focusing your creativity important?” I say, “Not really.”

At least not the way most folks mean to focus.

I think you should focus on being creative, not so much on the end result — or it’s meeting the standards of others. Just focus on the expression and the joy of making something.

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