Why is creativity important?

Image source: Unsplash

Why should we make anything at all?

This question sounds like an echo of "Why is there something rather than nothing?" and I think about it often, as a creator of somethings and nothings.

Creating something is an extension of our personality, and it is a way to expand our physical presence through our work, to reach more people, and ultimately be more connected to the world we live in and the people in it.

As creations live on without us, it is a way to fight death.

What's a creation?

Creation in this context is defined loosely, and it can mean creating a piece of art, a digital product or a physical thing, as well as creating knowledge or various forms of expression. Simple acts of creation happen every day by our living and speaking and being around each other, but more intricate creations take a life of their own - a product that affects people, ideas that stay in others' heads after we're away, a statement that inspires people to do certain things and changes their lives. If you create something that affects another person deeply, you deserve some kind of credit for that effect, and as a creator that's a big motivation because you feel your life means something.

I'm trying not to limit my discourse to artists and art, because what we do as humans is on a big spectrum of possibilities, and we may not agree about what we think is art, but that's besides the point. I tend to use artwork and creation interchangeably, but I hope the message of this article permeates more fields than just art.

Desirable aspects of creation

I am a creator. I work primarily with games and music, but also other media. I create for myself, but also for other people, and I care what people think about my work just as I care about my work, just as I care about myself in a way, because my work is part of me.

I want my work to be the best it can be, because I want to be the best I can be. On one hand I want to participate in making the world better, for me and others, and on the other hand I want people to like my work, or in other words I want people to like me. I think it's not too far fetched to say most people share this motivation. For this reason, I tried coming up with some ways that creation can be done better.

Good creation has some desirable aspects, that stem from the creator's nature. Perhaps these aspects are too generic as they can apply to both interactive art, music, technology, research or plain lived experience, but it is nice to know anything that comes so close to a fundamental truth.


We want our creation to reach as many people as possible and to be understood well. It should be valid across space and time. It's like that thing WB said, that you should be OK with what you are doing ending up on the front page of the news.

A creation for everyone is desirable, but it doesn't mean every creation must always be universal. Sometimes it's ok to make a very specific creation just to solve a little problem or to express a small thing. But as we know, small problems are very universal, and can be relatable, so actually creating something that's dealing with the mundane can be a powerful act of creation and can affect many lives, if it can reach that far.

A creation for a single person can make it very special to that person, but once again if generalising, if that creation feels special to more people, it is that much better for it, although this is much harder to achieve.

Depth, layers

A good creation has many layers of meaning, and acts as a rabbit hole. The first layer is its face value, the first impression as the audience gets to know the creation. The second layer begins as soon as a new connection, that doesn't find itself fully within the first layer, is spotted. The more layers something has, the deeper the rabbit hole is for someone exploring the creation, and the more one can get out of it.

A creation with a lot of depth can be simple, and still exude meaning. Think of a poem that says a lot with few words, compared to a very long book that says the same in many words, compared to a very long book that is poetic throughout, each sentence its own poetic rabbit hole. I'm pretty bad at giving examples, so all this may sound like some generic mumbo jumbo - if you think it is too generic let me know and I'll try to add some examples.

The layered creation doesn't have to be hard to understand, actually the simpler the better, for the sake of reaching people more easily. But when a simple creation starts unfolding its many meanings upon closer observation, it has the potential to be relevant for a very long time, and people will extract beauty out of it again and again.


A creation is powerful when it speaks directly to the heart and mind of a receiving person. That is why it feels better to make a piece of music that makes one person cry, than one that 100 people just hear but don't react to.

As a creator you want to reach people on a deep level, no matter how shallow the creation is. With certain fans of a creation, it is impossible to predict how much they care before they interact with the creation. All the more reason to put creations out without too much overthinking, but one thing is for sure, that a creation is objectively better when it touches more people more deeply. A creation can mean everything for one person, but when another means everything for 100 people it is definitely better - although both of those creations are valid for potentially speaking to different people. That one person might not be counted in the other 100.

Something to mention is that these factors are hard to accomplish, and there might not be a piece of art or creation that satisfies all those aspects to the max. But if there was, I'd sure like to be the one to make it!

Effort-to-enjoyment ratio

I often think of a creation in terms of the amount of time it took for it to be created, versus the amount of time it spends being enjoyed by people. If it only takes 5 minutes to make something that people enjoy for years, that's a pretty great creation with a strong ratio. Whereas if you spend years creating something that only a small handful of people enjoy for a few minutes, it has to be a very strong sentiment for this enjoyment ratio to be comparable to the previous 5 minute thing. Perhaps this chart best illustrates this concept.

Awesomeness vs Effort chart originally by Tom Scott

Positive impact

I'm not so sure about this one.

The idea is that people should appreciate your creation, or it should bring a positive impact into their life.

This is important to clarify for controversial creations which might not seem pleasant: a piece of art that challenges authority or offends people might seem harmful and undesirable, but the desirable aspect comes when weighing in the power it has for change and the future it might bring. If the creation hints at or leads to a better world, it is worthwhile to put up with its initial offensiveness. It is sometimes hard to judge if an imagined world is actually better, but some creations, such as art, have the power to visualise the future and inspire positive change, even when they are not themselves the solution.

What does it mean to make a positive impact? What if a creation's impact on the surface is positive but deeply it is harmful, such as a game that is super addictive like a drug, or some kind of tool that allows people to do harm more easily? The positive impact of those creations is under a big question mark, and at the end of the day if you influence people to do harm to others or themselves, you are at fault and you should do better.

That is why creations are under great scrutiny by their creator as they are being made, and even after they are made, by the general public. Some mix of fear and circumstances can lead people to be haters - fear of the unknown, fear of change, irrational fears or even justifiable fears like a creation that challenges something they believe in. That's also why it is so important to follow your vision in spite of the haters, and the people who don't understand your vision. A good creation will survive its haters. Not sure about its creator.

The act of creation is empowering because it is hard, as opposed to how easy it is to destroy. Creation makes order out of chaos, even when at first glance creation is chaos. When there is an intention by a creator for a creation to be a certain way, it is a way to shape the world into what the creator wants it to be. Therefore it's fundamental to have positive impact at the root of creations, since they shape the world.

Pursuing a better creation

I would like to put into practice these thoughts, even though they are abstract, and maybe a little bit hot-airy. For now they serve a purpose of inspiration, but with every new project I try to improve on these various factors: make something that's more universal, more specific, has positive impact, has many layers of meaning and can be enjoyed over and over, and so on.

I definitely won't always make the most grand pieces that always try to fulfill every facet of what makes a work great, because like I said, sometimes a small nothing can make a nice little impact on some people and that's also part of the journey to a better world. But maybe by having these aspects written down I will have an easier time remembering to keep a high ambition and make something strong, and not just cool or crazy.