I had a great dinner with great, close friends and part of our discussions — which were varied, entertaining, and hilarious — touched on creative expression and the impulse to be creative and artistic. (Fair warning: we were all part of the same theatre program and class in university, so this is our everything, really.)
My take on it is to always follow your creative and/or artistic impulse when it’s a question of whether or not to create. The answer should always be “yes” in my mind. What you do with that output is completely up to you once you’ve started (and maybe finished) following that impulse, but the important part is to just say “yes” to doing it. Sharing it with others may or not be the goal in the end. Maybe it’s a first draft. Maybe it’s just a release for yourself. Maybe it’s complete shit. But then again, it may be complete gold. The old cliché rings true here in any case: how do you know if you don’t try?
Reasoning with yourself as to why you shouldn’t follow your impulse is, to me, just another reason why you should. Granted, if it’s a creative impulse that affects people around you negatively or harmfully, I don’t condone that. If you’re working on a creative project as part of a team and your impulse is to take control of the project and lock yourself in your studio until you finish it on your own without everyone else, that’s probably not a creative impulse and just you panicking to hit a deadline. But if an idea pops up in your head — an image, a sentence, a lyric, a chord progression, anything — and you hear your brain say “make something with this”, then it needs to exist somewhere other than your mind. Write it down. Play it out. Sketch it. Even if you don’t think you’re a good writer, musician, or visual artist, who cares? You’ve clearly fixated on something that interests you, creatively. That alone is why you should bring it into some sort of being.
Make art. Make crap. Make diamonds. Just make something when you get the impulse to do so. Nobody else has to know it exists but yourself. And when it’s finally come to fruition, regardless of the quality of the result, be proud of the fact that you, and you alone, can say:
“I made this.”
Follow your impulses. You have them for a reason.