Don’t let Hustle Culture Kill Your Art
Being human is all about being creative. See the endless quotes from past and present humans on creativity to back up that statement. But creativity can be a fickle thing in one’s life, especially contrasted against the lens of western productivity culture, aka Hustle Culture. If you create something that takes longer than what your average MBA thinks it should, I want you to embrace the lens that slow creativity is strong creativity. After all, the tortoise did beat the hare. The important thing is to not give up.
Hell, I’ve been working on this particular blog post since the calendar new year. Slow and steady. Also the secret project I starte d last year is still not complete. It’s closer. It’s tangible. But it’s far from ready for the great wide world. Clearly, the Universe has other ideas for me. Part of my goals for 2022 was to go with the flow. I’m blessed in this life that I have a good chunk of time each day to create. It’s been a decades-long journey to get here and I don’t ever want to take it for granted. I enter each day with gratitude for my time in the early morning and early evening to just work on creating. Long ago I traded a commute for creativity. It’ll be a bad day in my world to ever go back. Regardless, it allows me to plod on, each day, even in short bursts to get things done. It may take me a month to write a short story, or paint something, or finish that piece of jewelry, but I do it. And the doing is most certainly the point. It is similar to the journey being more important than the destination. After my few years of travel life, I know this to be true.
But Hustle Culture can make us all feel like we’re not enough. In my last writing conference, the theme throughout many of the break outs and even keynote addresses hammered the requirement of no less than one book a year was horrifying. It takes most of us longer. It certainly takes me longer. Statements like “you should write a book each year” is a great goal, but it should not be something that entirely kills your spirit to write that novel.
Maya Angelou famously said, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use the more you have.” Again, I found this to be true. I find that slow, steady creativity in everything I do, whether it’s shaping a loaf of bread, weeding the garden, or solving the problem du jour. Creativity drives everything I do. Giving myself permission to be creative, too, continues to feed into my every day, whether I’m fighting to wrap jewelry as my mind sees it, write the perfect sentence for the current scene on my work in progress, or find the best path through the now treacherous grocery stores. Noting that my creativity is at the root of my ability to live successfully, motivates me to keep plodding along on whatever it is I’m working on, without judgment, without comparison, without feeling like I should be doing more and completing it faster.
I have also found that when I’m feeling anxious, worried, or generally out of sorts, that turning to creative pursuits, whether it’s crocheting, splitting carnivorous plants, or, of course, writing, all that anxiety, cares, and panic the modern world hammers on us, fades away. It’s certainly cheaper than therapy (although therapy is good and if you need it, do it). The point is that it can be a healing activity and that is productive. It feels rebellious to be creatively slow and produce something you’re happy with in the end. Damn the ‘you should’ statements. Are you writing? Are you drawing? Are you decorating cakes that look like Narwhals? Good for you. Don’t worry about the rest.
It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to create something. The important thing is that you are creating. If you’ve been around this Fiction Farm long enough, you know how much I adore Kurt Vonnegut. His advice on creativity is worth repeating and living by: “To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.” And are we not here to grow and transform into our best selves?
Don’t let Hustle Culture get you down and take away that spark and fire of creativity. Go at your pace – whatever it may be: steady, slow, somewhere in between. Don’t let anything, even this blog post get between you and your creative life.
Now I’d like to leave you with one more quote to send you on your way to create to understand that no one stands in your way, only if you let them.
“Be wild; that is how to clear the river. The river does not flow polluted, we manage that. The river does not dry up, we block it. If we want to allow it its freedom, we have to allow our ideational lives to be let loose, to stream, letting anything come, initially censoring nothing. That is a creative life. It is made up of a divine paradox. To create one must be willing to be stone stupid, to sit upon a throne on top of a jackass and spill rubies from one’s mouth. Then the river will flow, then we can stand in the stream of it raining down.”
― Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype
Love the last quote, especially. I get bound up trying to create ‘good’ stuff, and the thought of ‘wild’ creativity flowing without boundaries is awesomely inspiring. I’m in a phase of needing to do what I want to do instead of what I think I should be doing. The more I give into it the more I accomplish, and the more I try to work on what I should, the more bound up and unproductive I become. New visualization is reaching for the wild flowing river!