I was recently talking to a friend about a common dilemma experienced in the creative world, something I think we can all learn something from:
Should we create things for other people? Or, should we create them for ourselves?
For many, the answer is the former — make things for a niche group of people. But I believe the opposite.
Because what happens if you don’t truly enjoy what people expect you to create?
What if they want something different tomorrow?
Or, what happens if your lack of interest leads to reduced consistency and eventually, zero output?
Some may correctly argue that finding a niche helps you to grow quickly, which can help you to pivot towards your genuine interests down the line.
But let’s examine that scenario further:
In such a case, moving away from what your audience has grown to expect will lose you some of their loyalty.
Whilst a small proportion of people may stick with you, where will the new audience come from? You’d be starting from square one, or even before that, because now they’ve all put you in a box as ‘that guy who used to do X’.
Creating to simply impress others is a bastardisation of what makes the creative process so unique.
Drawing isn’t fun if we keep getting told what to make.
And singing wouldn’t be so special if we couldn’t experiment with our voices.
We all create a figurative ‘manager’ in our heads that tells us how to mould ourselves in order to fit in. To stand out. To grow.
But, “You can’t fit a square peg into a round hole”.
Despite all of our weird, unique facets, we choose instead to shave them off in order to fit a boring and ordinary, round hole.
So even when we fit in, we aren’t unique in our roundness.
We don’t even recognise nor enjoy ourselves along the way.
And when we finally realise our mistake, it’s often too painful to grow back our edges.
It took me a long time to reach this standpoint, but if I want to grow, I want to do it my way.
I may be an oddly shaped peg, but so be it.
The round hole was never meant for me.