The case for creativity

Next weekend I’ll be going to Chicago to see Team Starkid’s Twisted with my husband.

For those who didn’t know, Starkid Productions started off as a student group in the University of Michigan, who created the Very Potter Musical just to goof off– and now they’re touring nationwide, and the star of their first production is People Magazine‘s #3 Sexiest Man Alive, in part because his part as Harry Potter helped get him a role on Glee.

The same can be said for the crew of Channel Awesome, many of whom began as hobbyists critiquing movies and TV shows and

Doug Walker (Photo credit: ohnogc)

uploading them on Youtube. The famed “Nostalgia Critic” Doug Walker has since been able to quit his job to become a full-time content producer for Channel Awesome.

Only one road

If you’re anything like me, you’ve grown up being told that creativity is a hobby– but don’t quit your day job.

You’ve been told that there’s only one way to become a singer/actor/model/artist/photographer/writer/film critic/Broadway star, and since every other creative person is rushing down that same road, it’s a one-in-a-million shot. With that comes an unspoken (and sometimes not unspoken) expectation that we’ll eventually burn out because of the pressure, becoming drug addicts or alcoholics.

If you’re a writer like me, you’re told that you need an agent. You’re told you need to impress the Big Four publishing houses– and wow them so much that they give you all the advertising you’ll need to be seen around the world.

That isn’t the case anymore.

A whole new world

Proponents of self-publishing have been beating this drum for a long time, and that drumbeat is growing louder with each passing day. More and more writers are able to make a living off their income– that elusive one-in-a-million shot is suddenly a lot more attainable. An industry that was once famous for its secrecy and murky numbers is becoming more transparent, thanks to the willingness of people like Phoenix Sullivan to publicize their findings, so that other writers can learn from them.

The same goes for actors, comedians, singers, songwriters, artists– everyone with a creative bone in their body.

Thanks to the internet you can now connect with your audience and market directly to them through Facebook, Twitter, DeviantArt, Youtube, GoodReads, BandCamp, and other sites that I haven’t even heard of.

That doesn’t mean success is suddenly instant or guaranteed. It still takes a degree of luck— rather than impressing that one agent/casting director/talent scout, we need to impress thousands of complete strangers. It still takes a lot of work– some would argue that it takes even more work than if you’d just been ‘discovered’ by chance, especially since we can’t trust in a single break-out hit to skyrocket us to fame and fortune.

But we’re no longer confined to what some executive deems is marketable, or what a think tank perceives to be the up-and-coming trend.

We’re in an age where we can make our own trends.

Choose your own adventure

You can still go the traditional route– I’m not here to demonize that road– but when you do, walk that road knowing that it’s the choice you made.

No matter which way you choose to go, or even if you decide to forge your own path, look around the internet. Read blogs, talk to people, and do your research. Learn from other people’s successes, and from their failures.

Work hard and practice until you’re the master of your craft.

Your success depends solely on what you’re willing to put into it.