Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Out of the Box

I'm creative.  I'm not going to feign humility here, nor am I saying that I'm more creative than everyone else... I just know I am creative.  Creative people are famous for thinking outside the box.  Unfortunately many of us suffer from a malady I will call economic deficit disorder.

Because we don't have a lot of moola we are forced to find ways to use our creativity to pay the bills.  Usually this means performing menial tasks, or using our creativity in a way that has been historically proven financially sound.  (And by the way, spell checker, "moola" is a word.  I looked it up on

I spent most of my day hemming pants and taking in the waistbands of clothing other people designed, rather than creating dazzling new boutique fashions worthy of a New York catwalk.  Okay.  I don't really want to design "those" types of clothes.  But my point is, I spent my day doing alterations and it was pretty boring.

I'm sure there are tailors out there who love alterations.  I'm sure they just can't wait to clock in at the beginning of a day and spend their hours ripping seams and re-attaching buttons.  It's just not my cup of tea.

All that time in front of a sewing machine, even if it is mundane, makes me stop and think.  I mean really think. Creatively.  Because I'm not doing anything particularly mind boggling, I have all that time to think of other things, and today those other things centered around climbing out of a box created by perceived economic necessity.

In his book, Quitter, Jon Acuff stresses the need to keep your day job.  Seems a bit backward for a book about starting your dream job.  He has a point though.  If you're too quick to jump into the work you want to do, that pesky "economic deficit disorder" hits hard and fast.  Pretty soon you aren't doing the work you love, you're taking on whatever work you can find just to pay the bills.

At a recent writers conference, and in Steven King's book On Writing, I was reminded not to become a writer for the money.  This makes a lot of sense because I've noticed that I spend an awful lot of time writing, and I still haven't gotten paid for it.  I'm sure if I was doing it for the money I would have quit by now.  (Side note: I highly recommend Mr King's book, but I have to warn you that he has a potty mouth)

God has really been challenging me lately to think outside the box.  A friend of mine is the owner of a private film company.  She makes commercials for local companies and does audio-video recordings of special events.  She once told me that her clients often criticize ideas that took her hours to come up with, because it's easier to criticize than create.

It would be simple for me to pull up numerous images of a Gaultier original.  I know I have the talent to use those images to make a knock-off.  I could probably even alter it a bit to fit an average size figure.  But, that knock-off would never be as priceless as the one Gaultier designed.  Why? Because he created the original.

I love designing, and I love writing.  They are two of my favorite things to do.  With either one I can study the works of others and try to use the established pattern of success to make some money.  If I do, I will most certainly be proud of my achievements, and I will never be famous.  I'll just blend in seamlessly with all the other folks who make a living playing copy-cat.

Or, I can start blazing my own trail, think outside the box, and dabble in the unknown.  There will be no guarantee that I will make one red cent.  I may even die before anything I've created becomes valuable.  There's not even a guarantee that anything I make will last that long.

So now I have a challenge, for myself, and for anyone who's willing to try it.  Start thinking outside the box.   Welcome critique.  Prepare to be ridiculed.  Van Gogh certainly was.  Don't just sit and copy everyone else's stuff.  Embrace that thing inside you, that reflection of the God who made you.  You may be pleasantly surprised at the results.

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