Creativity and risk

There can be no real creativity without taking risks. Of course, there are a lot of good things a person can do who doesn’t want to take risks as well. Study, practice, developing skills, learning about relevant things – this doesn’t have to feel risky not least because we never have to share it.

There is a school of thought that says we should create purely for ourselves, driven by our own passion and inspiration and to hell with what anyone else thinks. Many creators we now think of as great were not valued in their own lifetimes. There’s another school of thought that says a piece is not complete until it has an audience and that the audience is co-creator of the finished work. Without someone to interact with a piece, an important part is missing. This is more how I feel about things.

When we set out to create, the idea of impacting on another human tends to be part of the mix. We want to move them, and we’ll probably know how we want them to feel. Write a horror novel and you want to scare your reader, and maybe gross them out and give them nightmares. Write erotica and you want to give them some hot flushes, and so on and so forth. Most of us, at heart, want to be liked, and want what we make to be liked, because that’s validating. And on a practical note, people who like what you do are more likely to pay for it, and this leads to being able to eat. Living only for your muse is fine if someone else is paying the bills, but most of us don’t have that option.

No matter how good you are, there will always be someone who doesn’t like it. That’s inevitable. Many people deal with the pain of bad reviews and negative feedback by having some people they trust, who like them. It’s a lovely thing to create for people who get what you do and are going to enjoy it. Of course, finding those people can be a messy trial and error process. How much risk can you take on that journey? How much negative feedback can you bear? Is there a point when a person should admit defeat and quit? Or should we never give up? I don’t know.

I come back to this blog, always. I’ve been through more cycles of despair than I care to count – it’s really tough in the creative industries at the moment without any personal angst on top of that. I have plenty of personal angst, too. I’ve wobbled repeatedly, and every time I’ve wobbled, people have come back and asked me to keep this blog going. It’s not my most creative work, it’s not a means to anything else, but it’s wanted, and I would rather put something wanted into the world than not. There are still days when blogging feels like a risk – too much exposure, too much vulnerability – but it’s useful, and that keeps me going.

So, thank you to those of you who keep coming back, keep commenting, keep saying that you find this useful. When I can’t write anything else, I push myself to write this, and there are times when it’s the only even slightly creative thing I do. I believe firmly that every human should have the right and the space to create, but that’s difficult unless we hold those spaces for each other. Thank you for turning this space into something meaningful for me.

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About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

18 responses to “Creativity and risk

  • doobeydo Bumblebee

    I always love reading your blogs, and books. 🙂

  • In The Autumn Of My Life

    I always enjoy your posts so thank you for taking the time to write them.

  • Elisa

    I CAN be creative without taking risks! I am soooo grateful that I spend less and less time in fear based driven thinking! Now, everything that springs forth of me and through me is Creation, channel for making and unmaking! For me the idea of risk implies that I am limiting Creation to only come after fear, anger, and expectation that I must suffer or fear giving up one thing for another. I am SO glad to be free of that! I am also free of people pleasing and bothering with what others think of me, of it. Of, am I enoughness Please OH please tell me I am! If only….Then I can (or am) …GAG horribly sick manner of thinking when I go there. Thanks for sharing in your blog. 🙂

  • dapplegrey

    I’ve followed your blog for a long time and I think it just keeps getting better. It’s one of the blogs I always want to read, and I’m so glad that you want to continue with it – because I think it’s important that you do want to do it rather than feeling that you should. This thing about creativity and pleasing others is a balancing act. I supported myself all my working life using my creative skills which meant I had to produce work that was saleable and sought, and I evidently managed this enough to earn a very modest living, but there were intervals when I had time to do work that I didn’t have to shape or conceive of in any commercial form, and because of this freedom I could take risks – and it was always this work that turned out in the end to be my best, and ironically the most cued be other people. So it’s a lesson I’ve tried to learn! That taking a leap into the unknown without the least idea of why or how or what you’re doing can often be the most rewarding and exciting thing you can do creatively, even if at the time it often feels very confusing and lonely. (It’s also I find extremely difficult to talk about with other people, unless they’re familiar with the same experience themselves – and thank you for giving us the opportunity to share such thoughts here!)

  • dapplegrey

    Sorry, that typo is supposed to say ‘the most valued’ not ‘cued’. The perils of writing on a phone.

  • taliesin2

    Reblogged this on The Crane Book of Wisdom and commented:
    An interesting post worth the read. It is a post about creativity, risk and it is as every bit inflective as it is reflective of the author.

  • Anita

    Thank you for your blogs Nimue… your words usually resonate just when I need to read them…I’m not a huge blog reader…three regulars actually..your lovely self..Dave (Damh) and Philip (Car -Gomm). You are all a treat in my inbox! /|\

  • lornasmithers

    ‘Living only for your muse is fine if someone else is paying the bills, but most of us don’t have that option.’

    The only way I can write (authentically) is for my deities and the spirits of the land, yet a large part of the aim is for their myths and stories to be heard by a human audience. If no-one read my blog, bought my books or came to see me perform I’d probably still write and perform my work solely for them.

    I’ll admit this is currently possible because I’m surviving off savings whilst living with my parents and it’s a combination of having worked in cleaning/shelf-stacking/admin jobs and my parents’ generosity that gives me that option. I’ve known all along I’ll never make a living as a professional writer. I’ve got enough savings to get my third book written and then… unless I can come up with an amazingly cunning plan it will be back to ‘real work’ again… I could never write for the market.

  • Argenta

    You are most welcome. It both a pleasure and an honour to read your words, dear Nimue ❤

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