Shawn Blanc, in For the Sake of Creating:
If, in our creative endeavors, we continually do work we are proud of, then that my friends is also success. We don’t make to get rich, we make to make. We build for the sake of building, create for the sake of creating. We do it because we have to.
Pursuing being better lead me to the therapy of writing. Through writing, I’ve been able to have synapsis connect and connect with people who inspire and teach me. I’m a better person for it. Now, writing is something I do because I have to.
Writing has become a solace for me. A way to internalize and externalize an over active, over achieving, unsettled mind. When I’m lonely and confused, feeling disconnected and lost in pursuit of what could be, I turn to writing as a way to make sense of it all. We’re all searching for the same thing. A pursuit of tools, frameworks, methodologies, and workflows are all a way for us to help bridge the gap between where we are and where we want to be; to bring closer together what we imagine and what we want to exist. We search in hopes of finding clues that lead us in the direction of something greater. Hacks can help because they are often a clue that the way you do something can be done better. That it can be smoother and you can be more effective. You probably remember the first time—a moment of enlightenment, if you will—that you recognized that some tool or method offloaded something from you; the first time a tip or trick made you better. It hit part of your intrinsic, humanist desire to create tools that make us better people.
We try to discover tools that relieve our burdens without realizing the relief leads us down a path to new burdens.
Writing has become a burden for me. This need to make words and my drive to make good and useful things has collided like great sheets of mantle rock and produced a precipice that I need to climb each time I sit before a keyboard. The burden of making complicated ideas simple has become a distraction from just connecting ideas and sharing them. In the same way, our tools can be these traps. A piece of software can hold the power to unlock our creative mind by collecting the distractions, bad ideas, and stuff that’s not worth focusing on so we can make something great. But our drive to improve and perfect can often turn this pursuit on itself. An introspective process—metaphorically “sharpening the axe”—puts our creative focus on tailoring our process so we can better create but ends up trapping ourselves from creating. We convince ourselves that the investment into our software will pay off in our creation and sometimes it does—but the focus of our creative potential needs to remain on greater things.
For me and my burden, I don’t just desire to methodically become a better writer but to do better things with my writing. Unlocking something in myself and letting words flow out while clearly communicating ideas is something I strive for and matters to me. Being a better writer gets me towards my goal, as being better with your tools advances you. Grasping what’s the method and what’s the matter can help you overcome indulging in one and lead you to start doing one for the sake of the other.
It’s about becoming. Becoming is cyclical and perpetual. When you think you’ve “arrived”, you’re only just at the beginning of a new place. In this cycle of becoming is where you have to give and take between the burden and the solace of creating great things. At times, you’ll be burdened by your desire to make something insanely great. That will lead you into a path of suffering and discouragement; a place of character building and of gaining understanding. In the other season of that cycle comes actualization and a freedom to create the great things you just struggled to find in yourself. There are seasons where you hack your way through a dense forest of friction. It seems endless and you feel lost until you finally manage to get though it. In this side of the cycle is when you search for and need the tools and workflows to capture ideas. You dig and hack to find something that fits and is comfortable to capture your thoughts and put them in a place you trust. You try to reduce the friction to get these ideas in a safe place because they are fragile and can be easily lost. It can be heartbreaking to lose an idea that you feel is going to get you through the struggle and the suffering into a season where you have the freedom to create. In that place of freedom you can connect the ideas you fought tirelessly to preserve and start to fit them together into something much greater than yourself. This season is rewarding and the things you can pursue feel endless—until it does end; until that end becomes the start of a new place and your freedom becomes1 burden again.
It’s in this flow of becoming that we sometimes find ourselves lost. I’ve felt it strongly and it hurts. A momentum you had becomes this pressure to become better and that pressure becomes oppressive. But understanding this flow of becoming—the flow of creativity and the flow of relationships and the flow of success and the flow of suffering; the flow of life—is the catalyst to greatness. Letting this flow happen and to suffer and prosper, thrive and survive respectively and cyclically is to live for the sake of becoming.
Etymology is a wonderful thing. Become originates from the German bekommen: to “get and receive”. Cyclical. ↩