Creative Solitude, Kills.
I’ve been living in what I call “Creative Solitude” for almost a year and it’s almost destroyed me as a creative.
For the most part, creative people thrive around other creatives. It’s a known fact that collaboration is much more of an effective way of producing great tools and applications for end users, as well as learning from those more experienced and knowledgable then yourself or at least challenging you to the point of realizing you know more then you think.
I was acting as the lead designer at a church working on projects I wasn’t completely passionate about, not surrounded by anyone with a knowledge or passion for web technologies, design or anything remotely the same area of work. I thought I could be a superhero for everyone, for a church that was lacking any type of positive ‘web presence’ like many churches unfortunately suffer from. So what does this have anything to do with my career?
Well, everything actually, I was hurting myself as a creative as well as hurting the design and development community by not contributing back to a thriving group of individuals. I may not be an expert in the Reveal Module Pattern in js or can whip out a fully functional app storyboard in Xcode in 5 minutes, but as someone who has been in this line of work for a good amount of time, I have something to share, offer and teach others that are just starting out.
So that’s it? I just realized I didn’t want to work at a church? No, let me back up a little bit before I started working at the church to relay some context. I started at a small web dev shop here in Olympia, Pignite. It was my first time really stepping out into the ‘agency’ life. It was amazing, I was surrounded by guys that we’re knowledgable in the same area of work, Passionate about it, and who pushed me when I was stuck to figure something out.
During this time, I started dating a girl (yup, one of these stories.) and became comfortable with where I was at. With how much I knew and where I thought my career was going. Soon after we started dating I started removing myself slowly from the design and development community, from conversations on twitter, to answering questions on quora or stackoverflow. I also took the job with the church. A job that I somewhat knew going into it wasn’t going to push me as a creative the way I needed it to. I was going to be in a place surrouded by great, loving people, but not passionate about the same things as me.
Super long story short, me and the girl didn’t work out and things didn’t work out at the church. I wasn’t working on design / development projects that both sides of the party were hoping would happen. Rails applications, iPhone apps etc… and the entire time this was going on, I was removing myself from a community of people that makes me become a better creative, the knowledge and progress we obtain from the community is crucial, and not only for yourself, but to the person you could provide the A-HA moment for.
It’s been about 3 months since I’ve gone back to being a full-time freelancer and being single. The single part sucks, that’s entire different post, but the freelancing is amazing. In this short amount of time I’ve created more relationships then I have in years with other people passionate about design and development. I’ve worked on projects for clients ranging from Facebook to Nike and have job opportunities lining up left and right. All this is great, but the number 1 thing about this is the relationships that have been created with those who are involved with design and development. We teach each other new things, push each other to further our knowledge and thinking of new solutions that accomplish new and old problems. We better each other. Be someone’s push to learn, to write, to create a screencast or podcast about their journey as a creative.
Whatever you do, don’t let it be removing yourself from this amazing community of geeks and thinkers.