Anybody with even a slight creative bent has considered creating something, writing a story or a tune on the piano. For most, that’s as far as it goes, something stops us from finishing it or showing it to the world. Why does this happen? A lack of confidence or feeling of being under-qualified? It could be any number of factors. But something special happens when we just let it happen.
Creating is what makes us human, it connects us to the people around us and also to ourselves. Now more than ever with our world moving at such a breakneck pace it can be hard to take stock and reflect on the things that we really want to do over the things we feel we have to do. In-between social media, our smart phones, and notions of success, it’s far too easy to forget ourselves (some would say it’s encouraged). Creation brings us back to ourselves and our drive. It is truly liberating and in my opinion: vital.
As an actor and musician it’s now my job to create. But growing up I’d always wanted and been encouraged to create. To draw pictures, make art, write music, write plays, write plays with music! I rarely found writing music difficult, but after a while it had become apparent I had found a particular way of doing things which I didn’t care to break out of. My whole perspective on creating changed when presented with the opportunity to write a brand new musical. The source material for our adaptation was not one I would have chosen myself, I could see nothing I had already written that could be adapted into what we had to work with and the whole thing was quite scary. We had a theatre, three weeks of dates, a cast limitation and we had no book, music or show.
The following 8 months were the most difficult of my creative life, I had hardly anybody to fall back on, a whole musical to write, a plot to devise, score to arrange, record and a multi-talented cast to find who could deal with the material. Much to my surprise the music was in fact the easiest part to write, once we settled on a plot the songs very much wrote themselves, as Debbie Allen said: ‘out of limitations come creativity’.
It was a long and tumultuous journey that I could and probably will write a book about at some stage but we did it. We said yes and we sat down and we did it. We only had ourselves to say what was rubbish or what was great and the only targets or goals we had to hit were ones set by ourselves. We put it on, people came, people liked it and it got nominated for an award! And truth be told, we really had no idea what we were doing. There is a lot to be said about self censorship, it’s what stops us doing the things that scare us. But creating is the purest form of self expression and if my experiences of the last year have taught me anything it’s that even if you have the smallest spark of drive to do or make something, no matter how scary or intimidating, that you should just do it. You never have to show another living soul, it can be your little spark. Or you can pour yourself into it and fan it into a flame, one you can parade around town saying ‘LOOK I DID THAT’.
So why create? Create because you can, not because you need to, you need to pay the bills, you need to pay the rent you don’t need to sit down and write that play you know you’ve got in you but do you know what? It might give you a bit of perspective on the rest if you do.
Draw that picture so you can see something differently, show someone else the picture so they can see it differently.
Write that song with four chords in it because Adele doesn’t need any more than that and she’s doing alright, let's be honest.
Encourage your children to create. The studies on the benefits of the arts from an early age are fascinating; challenging a wide spectrum of the developing brain. The same goes with the elderly, keeping senses sharp. There is never a bad time to create.