Claiming Creativity

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I saw something on Twitter the other day – one of those lovely little affirmation-type posts that work quite well on that particular platform, as opposed to on Facebook where they seem to make my piss boil for no particular reason. Maybe it’s something to do with the fact that on Twitter they’re nestled between apocalyptic heralds and dire warnings, maybe it’s because they’re just a lot smaller, but if I see a glimmer of joy on Twitter I bathe in its glory for a moment. If I see it on Facebook I roll my eyes and tut at its cloying grandiosity.

On this particular occasion it was a writer posting the wisdom that aspiring writers should not label themselves as such, because that connotes that they are a person aspiring to write, not aspiring to write successfully. That if you are a writer, you write, and success has nothing to do with that. Success is a false mirror that has little to do with merit, a lot to do with luck, and a chunk to do with hard graft.

It struck a chord with me, obviously. If it hadn’t I probably wouldn’t be writing this, right now. But I’ve often struggled with the question of when to call myself a writer – something doubly raw for the indie/self-pubbed author. I’ve got three novels out, read by thousands of people at this point, and yet I still hesitate to call myself a writer. Am I going to need a certificate or something before I can call myself what I am?

If there’s one thing (beside cloying Facebook posts) that I hate, it’s this notion that there has to be a certain level of achievement in creativity before you can call yourself a creative. Perhaps it’s to do with the way we are taught to play with creativity as children, then told to stop as we get older. That play is no longer something worthy of our time. Some people break out of that in music, art, writing, craft, woodwork. Some people only briefly indulge it when asked to create a PowerPoint presentation at work or a best-man’s speech at a wedding.

So be loud and proud, creatives. You write? You’re a writer. You paint? You’re a painter. You whittle? You’re a whittler. We should all stop dancing around the fact that we’re creatives. Unless you’re a dancer, of course. Then, you know, as you were.

Blood on the Motorway: An apocalyptic trilogy of murder and stale sandwiches is out now in ebook and print from Amazon and all other good bookstores. You can get the first book free by joining my mailing list or read along at Wattpad. Oh, and I’ve got a Patreon.