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Why Create When You Can Criticize?

Why Create When You Can Criticize?

There are so many voices out there.

The ubiquity of cloud computing, publishing software, and mobile devices have made it incredibly easy to make ourselves heard — and that’s great thing, whether it’s pro-democracy tweets from Chile or cat videos on YouTube. Creative collaboration, political dissent, freedom of speech, and organizational innovation have all benefited from a massive uptick in opinions and knowledge sharing. While the number of worldwide creators has skyrocketed through unique platforms — Behance, Etsy, Kickstarter, this also seems to have birthed a dark side.

We’ve also seen the rise of a type of uber-commentator, a specific strain of creative hater. Setting up hate sites or leaving head-scratching blog comments, these users pop up in all sorts of dark corners of the Net, their subject matter and opinions running the gamut. But they share a common bond in a posture of criticism, because now that it’s so easy to thoughtlessly comment, expound or “like” something, our previous barriers of usefulness or thoughtfulness are evaporating.

Haters might always be haters, because it’s much easier to offer opinions, critique, and play the role of Monday Morning Quarterback than it is to roll up your sleeves and actually create something. Building, designing, thoughtful creation — these take a lot of energy, thought, and sweat. It’s clear that not everyone has that within them. This makes it all the more important that we support the builders and creators, respect what they do, and provide constructive criticism.

But we also need to realize that it’s much easier to criticize than it is to actually roll up your sleeves and put money where your mouth is. Knowing how a thing is made – whether it’s a design, a product, or an idea – is worlds apart from actually making the thing yourself.

While our world needs critics, it needs creation even more. So, in no particular order, here are six reasons why you should get busy in the work of creation, instead of  just heckling from the sidelines:

Makers tend to be problem-solvers, instead of problem-finders.
Being in the creative trenches often leads to a mindset of forward-movement, of being able to tackle obstacles. Critics can showcase every flaw, but are often found missing when it’s time to fix those cracks. It’s one thing to identify the issues, it’s another thing to connect the dots towards a solution.

To create is to stand naked before the world.
Creators have to show what they can do, and once they’ve put something out there, there’s nowhere to hide. This might also be called the put-up-or-shut-up syndrome — meaning that creators tend to have more self-respect and the respect of their communities, because they can back up their own critiques with a body of work, a set of products, or a track record of building and success.

Creators understand how hard the making is, and judge accordingly.
When we swap places with a creator, it’s easier to get a sense of what it takes to put something of value out into the world. We were much harder on the creators of design inspiration books until we began to design our own. Clients have told us that designing identities seems easier from the outside. Knowing first-hand the challenges of any given initiative allows us to sympathize and see other people’s projects in context, and I daresay, let’s us all give them more latitude than we would otherwise.

Creating changes you.
This seems to be a basic, fundamental truth, and those who find this out tend to grow and be stretched personally and professionally because of it. Creating things leaves few people unchanged.

Talking is easy. Doing is hard.
Is there any other way to put it?

Creators practice finishing.
Much like a marathon is more difficult than a 10K run, actually completing that screenplay, novel, or series of poster designs takes patience, intestinal fortitude, and a force of will that is difficult to teach. The side of the road is littered with dozens of false starts, abandoned projects, and optimistic beginnings.

Finally, we want to make it very clear that these thoughts aren’t a tirade against the general idea of criticism – criticism is at the heart of great design and art, enabling us to push forward into uncharted territories of better and better results. The best creators hungrily and discerningly accept criticism as the rocket fuel of greatness. But the tipping point of criticism occurs when it hinders or replaces true creation. Criticism has a symbiotic relationship with creation – the first can’t exist without the second, and we’d be wise to remember that hierarchy.

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