Yes, this is another motivational talk for the times when you feel like writing, drawing, painting etc… are pointless activities that don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things and are not worth bothering with today.
Come on, we’ve all felt like that at one time or another – even if we come up with a dramatic-sounding name for it like “artist’s block” or “writer’s block”.
Sometime last month, I read an absolutely fascinating news article about a scientific study in America which showed that a significant percentage of people (supposedly a quarter of women and two-thirds of men) would rather give themselves electric shocks than be alone with nothing but their own thoughts and daydreams.
Personally, I’m completely puzzled by this. I just can’t understand it.
It might just be my limited perspective on the world, but I can’t imagine living without lots of daydreaming – whether it’s wildly optimistic daydreaming in order to stay happy during dark times, whether it’s fantastical and dramatic daydreaming to keep life interesting.
Whether it’s the almost involuntary “worst case scenario” daydreams which can bedevil me on a regular basis sometimes, whether it’s delightfully vivid and wonderful sexual fantasies or whether it’s awe-inspiring philosophical daydreams about the nature of reality – daydreams are a central part of my life and my being.
Chances are, if you’re a creative person, the same will be true for you too. You’ll be rich with daydreams. You’ll have more of them than you even know what to do with.
Go on, admit it, it’s true. If daydreams were money, you’d be a multi- billionaire.
You’d be the kind of bloated fat cat that you probably glare at with vicious jealousy when no-one is looking.
But, unlike money, daydreams can’t be hoarded easily. In fact, they’re one of the few forms of wealth which pretty much must be shared. If you are rich with daydreams, then you have to help those who are poorer – if you don’t, then you will find yourself feeling slightly “empty” or “frustrated” in a way that is difficult to describe.
And this, my friend, is why we write or create art.
But, of course, we can’t just give other people our daydreams directly. I mean, different daydreams work for different people – so we can’t just put our personal daydreams onto the page and expect “imagination-poor” people to enjoy them and benefit from them.
For example, if you wrote about being a beautiful woman who lives alone in a quirky house in the middle of nowhere with DVD boxsets of every TV show from the 1990s, with a dedicated art studio, with a fully-functioning holodeck, with a high-end gaming PC (pre-loaded with a thousand vintage FPS, platform and adventure games) and with a gigantic walk-in wardrobe filled with a wide variety of gothic outfits and eccentric vintage 1980s clothes – then not that many people would think that it would be worth reading.
Yes, it might be the kind of heavenly story that I’d gladly lose myself in for days. But most people would just find it weird.
Why? Because it’s one of my “wildly optimistic” daydreams that has been tailor-made by me specifically for me. If you aren’t transgender, if you don’t thrive in solitude, if you don’t have my eccentric fashion sense and if you aren’t obsessed with the 1990s, then this daydream probably won’t do much for you.
So, if we can’t just put our personal daydreams down on the page, how can we carry out our almost-sacred duty of sharing our imaginative wealth with those less fortunate? Simple, we give them the tools to build their own daydreams.
We make paintings of interesting scenes that make people think “I wonder what happens next?“. We tell stories set in imagined worlds that people can’t stop thinking about once they’ve finished reading your story. We make comics about interesting characters that people wish existed in real life.
In short, we make things that make other people daydream. We, even for just a few hours, lift other people out of imaginative poverty and enrich their inner lives.
We are imaginative philanthropists and we have one of the most important jobs in the world.
Do you still feel that it’s pointless to write or make art?
Wow! This might just be my best article yet. Anyway, I hope that it was inspirational 🙂