It’s OK to be bad at creative endeavours if they make you happy and it’s equally OK to recognise if they don’t.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m really not a video person and if you’ve ever checked out my YouTube channel, it shows. In fact, I am so bad at video that I find it interesting and thought it deserved a bit of self-reflection that I decided to share here.
For me, video and even photography to a degree, are types of media in which I find zero artistic expression. I’ve always been a wordsmith and as far back as I can remember, the world made the most sense through words. I’d always write overly long school essays and stories and I’ve also always been a huge reader. Growing up we didn’t have the best Internet connection, so even though I like movies and TV, I didn’t really get exposed much to YouTube, Vimeo and other types of random videos (I even had to get my porn in written form, hah).
Fast forward a few years and we all have smart phones with epic cameras in our pockets, so it only makes sense that the world is hungry for interactive content and that videos of any kind are dominating the Internet. A video is obviously the easiest way to show something and get your point across, but for me, if I see something moving on my social media feed, I won’t click on it. I won’t listen to people talk when I’m scrolling on my phone and I absolutely hate auto-play, so unless there’s a summary to read or I actually went looking for the video on purpose, I won’t watch it; which is an interesting behavioural pattern, because most people seem to love videos and say it gives them a more genuine connection with the content creator.
So, when I started my Erratic hat podcast, I decided to give that aspect of blogging and content creation a try. My friend Eva and I made podcast ‘making of’ videos to get the ball rolling and even though I kind of got used to it once I managed to wrap my head around the concept of speaking to the camera and it was fun making a video with another person, I absolutely hated the process of editing. I only enjoyed it as far as it was a new learning experience and I didn’t feel like the end result was something I’d watch, even though I relatively liked the way the videos turned out. In fact, I still don’t understand why people watch random amateur videos for fun, unless there’s a cute animal, a whole project with a story or something amazing was caught on camera in just the right moment. Watching streamers do their thing, unboxing videos, a day in the life etc. is just beyond me. I don’t want to judge anyone, but my mind just doesn’t get it. I also don’t find most of those fail videos where people fall or get kicked in the balls funny, which my boyfriend says makes me a sourpuss. That’s just the way it is, as video and I are apparently not meant to be big friends. 🙂
Similarly, I seem to find almost no creative energy in photography. To me, both video and photography are a means to an end, a way to show people something interesting that I’ve seen and share it with them, but I don’t feel like I’m actually being creative in the same way as with dancing, writing, poetry, embroidery or drawing and painting. However, it’s a lot easier to learn how to take a decent photo than how to make a video.
I’ve learned a lot about photography since starting this blog and I’m glad, because I’ve accidentally managed some good shots that I love, but I still haven’t the slightest idea how I’d convey a thought or emotion through a photograph the way some of the famous photographers do, because what they make is art. I know I could probably learn and I have read a book about photography at some point, but I don’t even feel the inclination to. So, if I had to describe my photography style, I’d call it functional. It’s meant to capture the moment and show you that thing from my travels that could make you want to go there and see it, which I suppose is a very technical approach (or let’s call it impressionism). You can actually clearly feel that in my travel videos – they’re up to 10 seconds long, which always feels like an eternity to me while I’m filming them, and they’re like “Here is the thing, do you see it? Yes – good”. Essentially, they’re horrible and that’s okay, because we can’t all find creativity in everything.
The only video I took that I actually like so far is this one, and only because nature was doing its thing very well:
It’s safe to say that I’m not planning any big filming projects in the future and even my initial TikTok excitement over organic reach only lasted about 5 videos, because I don’t feel like I can create much of value in video form there and don’t want to waste my time on it. However, I don’t see that as quitting, because I think it’s important to try new things and also equally important to recognise what actually makes you happy to do. For example, I’m not the best at dancing despite years of classes, but it makes me happy and it feels like I’m expressing myself through it, so I’m sticking to it despite that.
Being creative isn’t always about being good at something, so give yourself permission to do the thing that makes you fall into that creation flow, even if you’re bad at it. You don’t need to share it with the world, because no one needs to hear you sing or see those drawings you’d rather burn than own up to, but if you do want to share it, don’t ever feel embarrassed if it’s not top notch. Contrary to what it may look like in the age of the Internet where everyone seems to be effortlessly good at everything and endlessly happy, it’s ok to not be that great at your hobbys if you enjoy them – that’s why it’s a hobby and not your livelihood. I know it’s hard to recognise and accept that you’re not good at something, specially if you are a perfectionist like me, but in the case of hobbys and creative endeavours, we should all learn to put a bit less pressure on ourselves, enjoy what makes us happy and let go of what doesn’t. Also, we should all learn to be kinder to each other and just not look at stuff if we don’t like it instead of brutally criticising it, so if something makes your soul sing, then go for it!
In a similar way, if something doesn’t feel right, recognise that and give yourself permission to not do it, even if everyone else is doing it or if it feels like it’s something you absolutely must do to achieve your goal (videos are being hailed as the marketing approach for content creators for example, but I’ll still stick to my shitty videos or lack of them). If you’re doing something just for the sake of doing it, with no passion and no genuine interest, your audience can feel it and it could even be detrimental if you’re trying to promote your work in the long run. So, trust your intuition and do what feels closest to your heart – it may take longer to reach your goal, but you’ll enjoy the process all the more. That also goes for enjoying hobbys that you’re bad at, because trust me, practice really does help a lot, even if it doesn’t actually make perfect.
Anyway, I hope this mental purging of mine got you thinking about creativity. What medium do you enjoy working with and which one doesn’t work for you? Is there something that makes you really happy, but you’re not naturally good at? Let me know in the comments below.