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When creativity is more of a condition than a profession

I'm Shamalee—one of the two minds behind Public Works. I have a strong resonance with the Creator archetype and it's the first archetype of Public Works too. These thoughts were penned in response to the series of stories we put together celebrating the Creator archetype.

I write because I must. Because words spill out of me. As I walk, as I eat, as I shower and order groceries… Words keep weaving threads in my brain, in my wake. Sometimes, I wake up with sentences forming in my sleep. Even as people talk to me and I get lost between the words they say (especially what they didn’t say); words keep spilling out of me. 

I write because if I don’t, they haunt my days and preoccupy my thoughts, and weigh down my mind. They slow me down until life begins to feel like the act of going up the stairs with a cup too full to the brim; slow, tedious, and just plain ridiculous. I have to stop everything else and take a sip, or risk spilling it and never tasting it.

I write because I’m afraid of forgetting. Losing an idea—a perfectly articulated string of thought—is such a goddamn shame, isn’t it? I just can’t bear it.

Writing is just the way I unfold into this world; the only way I know to be. I just write, and sometimes people read those things. 

This compulsive nature of creativity is probably something all creators can relate to. It’s interesting to note how this approach changes in commercial creative work. Personally, when I create for commercial outcomes, there is an obvious difference; there is a calculated deliberation that sets it apart from what I create compulsively. In commercial creativity, there is more aiming than conducting; but, the thrill of searching for the perfect word is common to both situations. A large part of my early career was in figuring out these differences, similarities and the processes that allow me to make the best of both approaches; and, I’m still learning.

Public Works is where my writing condition transcends from a self-indulgent artform to commercial writing. When I create for clients through Public Works, I notice a stark difference to my approach. I’m less of a vessel to what I cannot contain, and more of a deliberate archer aiming for a specific outcome that makes business for the client.

I find that creativity is a compulsion as much as an artform that can be mastered with the creator’s methodology and processes. Some creators are more compulsive while others are more method-driven; it depends on what your art lends to and what kind of creator you are or want to be. Whichever it is, what matters is that if you are a creator, you keep creating. Because creativity is an act that springs from loving life. Creativity is our mind’s rebellion against death; our refusal to be laid to rest without having bettered this world, even if it’s by a morsel.


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