On creating

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope that you had a lovely Thanksgiving, if you are in the United States, and a lovely Thursday anyway, no matter where you are. This Friday, I just wanted to share a short article and a few thoughts between relaxing and enjoying some time with family and friends. I hope that you have some good plans for the weekend, too. So let’s get into it.

I recently read this short blurb on Lifehacker that is basically quoting Theodore Roosevelt, “credit belongs to the man in the arena”. I’ll wait here while you go and read it. I think that it is a good reminder about the difference between creating and critiquing, among other things, but I’m going to focus on this dichotomy for a bit today.

As we all know, it is very easy to critique something. Even with helpful critiquing, it is easier than the creation. Anyone who has ever written anything knows that before you can edit, you have to actual write and that is often the harder of the two parts. Criticism, effective and helpful criticism, is essential in scholarship and in life. One of my hats I wear is as a member of the Evidence Summaries team for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice and I critique current research studies. Critiques are important as peer review is important, but it is also important to remember the reason for critiques and the time and place for critiques. Also, we always have to be mindful of how easy it is to slip into complaining or tearing down instead of offering suggestions to make writing, research, or programs better, more engaging, or more meaningful. Bad, hurtful critiques are easy to say or to write. Helpful suggestions are harder, but creating is hardest of all.

Whether you create paintings, programs, creative writing, or research studies, creating is always hard, personal, and hopefully honest work. Every piece of creation, whether considered fiction or non-fiction, in song or in photography, is a creative work that you have literally put down, made visible or audible for another person to experience. It can be exhausting work; it can mean showing failures to others, or half-formed ideas that need not a sharp critique, but a friendly ear and a willingness to suggest improvements instead of tearing down incomplete creations.

I truly do believe that those who create, who share with the world new applications, new ideas, new thoughts, and new works are the ones to whom the credit should go. Not to the critics who often have not tried to create on their own for years, but relish trying to puncture the enthusiasm or the courage it takes to share what you create with others.

So basically what I’m saying is be kind to yourself and to others who create, who strive to do more, create new things, and share them with the world, whether that world is online, in the office, or in a gallery. Let’s support each other in our creating and in our disseminating of new ideas, products, and papers. The world needs both those who create and those who do not just critique, but support and suggest to make the next prototype better, the next draft more illuminating, and the next story more engaging. When we define the two as relational and connected, rather than separate and competing, is when we will be able to celebrate creating knowing that we will be supported when we ask for reviews.

In other words, be kind, be bold, and for goodness sake keep creating whatever you were put on this earth to create. Oh, and if you a person who “knows great enthusiasms” and “spends himself[herself] in a worthy cause” the library and archives fields need you to help us keep creating spaces and places that allow everyone to learn, to create, and to become more through using the libraries and archives.

Have a wonderful, relaxing, inspiring weekend. I’ll be back next week. Allons-y!