Returning to the theme of creativity and the fact that God designed humanity with the ability to utilize this talent within the domain of His creation, I think there’s something special to be said about the value of creation within a community.
Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to utilize my creative abilities on my own. I like to write for you on this website, and I like to develop ideas. Almost every great work of art in history has been the work of one creator. It is not like the Mona Lisa was painted by a committee. Much of the time, we utilize our creative gifts by ourselves.
However, think about the Inklings. This group of friends in Oxford got together often times as a community of highly talented, creative people. Although J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were the most famous members of this fellowship, there were several other members. It truly was a community that got together. They obviously did their own work and did not do any collaborative work as far as I know (although I am happy to be proven wrong), but they were still members of a group committed to thought, discussion and intellectual pursuits.
There is something about coming together with a group of like-minded people that stimulates our own creativity. I don’t think it is any coincidence that a great deal of the most famous classical music came out of the church. When surrounded by such a great tradition of wonderful music, composers were stimulated to create beautiful work as well. It is hard to do your best work in isolation when you do not have the guiding influence of other highly talented people around you.
A community can provide encouragement, feedback and inspiration. Again, we will probably become involved in our own separate projects, but when we do them with the support of a community around us, we get some additional benefits as well. We don’t just have to rely on our own opinion.
It is often times said that we are all our own worst critics, and it very well may be true. However, I have found so many times that my work becomes better when someone else provides feedback. Other people will sometimes see things that I just don’t have on my radar. This might say something about my capabilities as an editor, but I think that it actually points more towards the fact that we all have blind spots. I might think that I have chosen the perfect word for a certain situation, but somebody else might have a much better option for me that I probably should have used in the first place.
All in all, creativity is truly something that we all have, but I think that our individual capacity for creative thought can be enhanced by those around us. I have experienced this benefit a great deal lately, and only in these communities have my best work actually been able to come out. I look at what I have written before I had it critiqued by my peers, and when I look at the product that came out afterwards, the difference is remarkable.
If you don’t have a community for your creative work, I encourage you to find one. In fact, if you can’t find one, build your own. Those turn out pretty well sometimes as well.