Stifled Creativity

June 24, 2013

Nearly everything's been done already. And everything that requires doing has thousands of people who do it very, very well. They specialize in that thing they do. They went to school, or spent hours teaching themselves how to do what they do. Who am I to step in and think I can just try to learn and apply a skill while so many have already done so? Does the world need another web developer? Another writer? And, more importantly, am I accomplishing anything new?

Stifled by these questions and doubts, I have a hard time continuing my work. Sure, everything new I learn makes me more hirable, more valuable, and overall more likely to succeed in the future of my career. I really hate thinking of what I do as a career, though. It's a hobby. It's a lifestyle. But, it also just so happens to be very valuable at this day and age. I'm very grateful that I'm interested enough in coding to make money from it. Had I instead pursued drawing, writing, or the like, I could be in a much different situation, and I could also be neglecting my interests just to stay alive. But I am alive, and I'm doing what I love to do. Still, am I really doing anything worthwhile?

As time has gone on, and as I've learned to use more languages, frameworks, and other tools, I've had idea after idea. Most are mediocre; all seem wonderful to me at the time. I let the ideas sit and see if I'm still as enthused as I was when they were incepted. During my thought process, I search around to see what already exists out there. Has my idea already been done? Am I accidentally trying to reinvent the wheel here? Usually the answer to those questions is yes. When the answer is no, I can't help but think there's a reason it hasn't been done yet. So by the time I'm ready to fire up a text editor and get some code written, I've been through a triathlon of questioning, doubt, and other perplexities that come along with web development.

But then I stop and realize I'm taking this all way too seriously.

When I was younger, I wasn't judging everything I did by whether or not it would better my life in the long run. I didn't worry that I wasn't the best, and how there were so many ahead of me that were superior. Instead, I just did what I wanted. I learned to play the guitar because it was damn fun. I wrote music because I loved to. I rode a skateboard because I felt like it. One day I opened up Photoshop and learned to use it because I was interested. I began writing code because it was exciting! What changed? Why can't I just work on things because they excite me? Why does every thought come along with "well I'm sure someone's already done it better"? This is also true with the music I write. The standards to which I hold myself are so high that I can't even function!

Well, I'm making a change.

I don't know if anyone else feels this way about their work, and their overall productivity. But I'm sick of judging my every move based on how productive and worthwhile it is to spend time on. I'm spending time doing what I do because it's fun, and if nothing ever comes of my work then so be it; but if the fun I decide to have ends up getting me noticed and appreciated, then that's cool too.