We all know her — or someone like her.
She’s got clear skin, bright eyes, a gasprillion followers and juuuust the right amount of approachability in her Instagram captions.
She’s posting beautifully-curated content at least 3x/day on various platforms, and her long form pieces are heartfelt, funny, and moving.
More than being polished, she’s also perfectly attentive to her audience, thoughtful, measured, in-offensive, selectively silly, and always kind.
Curating the Good Creative
Anything she creates, no matter how weird or expensive, seems to sell out (whether it’s her art, offers, or events) and you find yourself scrolling her site every few weeks, just for a little self-flagellating ~inspiration~.
She’s vulnerable without feeling attention-seeking, smart without feeling boring, funny without feeling trite, and while she’ll remind you she has flaws sometimes, even those “bloopers” have an aesthetic quality.
And of course: she’s always a d d i n g v a l u e.
Somehow, it feels like everything just happens for her, falling gently into her lap like perfect peony petals.
She is: ✨The Good Creative ✨
She’s everything you simultaneously love, are annoyed by, and aspire to be.
You never see her sweat, and she’s always ready with an answer.
Any time you try to create something, your stupid Imposter Syndrome pulls up her picture and says:
“YEAHHH but you could never do it as well as Good Creative. So why even try?”
And underneath it all?
You kinda can’t stand her.
But here’s the good news: while we could all name a few who fit the above description?
The Good Creative Does. Not. Exist.
She’s an archetype and a carefully-maintained illusion.
As someone who’s been in this industry for over a decade now, I find: the more curated the persona, the bigger the mess hidden from view.
Ask any copywriter who’s worked for one of these types.
There are some special cases! But 9 times out of 10, something is UP in a big way behind the scenes.
When we choose to pursue our creative work — sharing our ideas, selling our offers, and putting ourselves out there in public — perfectionism raises its ugly head anyway, to make us feel like Too Hot a Mess to do anything.
And this archetype is one of its most powerful tools.
We tell ourselves that if something is going to be WORTH doing, it has to be so good we’re beyond reproach.
So perfect it gets flawless results every single time.
So meaningful that, while also a little irreverent and clever, it’ll stick like glue in the minds of our audience and they’ll tell their friends “You’ve gotta follow Sally. S/he’s a genius.”
And most importantly, we absolutely do NOT want to piss anyone off, for any reason, ever.
Because that’s not what Good Creatives do.
And after all: we want to be ✨ Good Creatives ✨, too.
No wonder so many of us are frozen solid, sheesh.
Procrastination Develops from Perfectionism
We’ve set so many hurdles up in front of ourselves about how we’re supposed to behave with our creativity, we’ve completely terrified ourselves out of taking much of a risk at all.
We’re frightened of saying the wrong thing, and attracting an invisible mob to our virtual shores.
We’re worried our businesses will look desperate if we pivot too much or test/shut down too many offers, or if (god forbid) no one, or only one person, buys.
And so we twist ourselves into knots doing a whole lot of nothing, as the drafts, offers, and money stress piles up in its own little corner, and we continue to measure ourselves against the Good Creatives.
It’s a form of hiding, of course. Of procrastination and delay, in the name of getting it Just Right.
But let me tell you something…
The biggest surges of momentum I’ve ever experienced in business arrive ONLY when I commit to being a Bad Creative instead.
To be vulnerable in a way that may be (gasp) repelling, or unattractive, or seen as attention-seeking.
To stop combing through every word I say so cautiously that I take the bite out of my wit.
To develop the offers I REALLY want to be selling, and stomp back to the drawing board if it doesn’t work to try again, even if it looks odd from the outside.
And to make the jokes that fall flat, tell the stories no one resonates with, and experiment with the weird ideas in my head juuuust in case something happens to stick (and assuring myself people will forget quickly if it doesn’t).
Learn to Find Joy and Purpose in the Mess of Bad Creative Land
Believe you me: while it’s a bit rough around the edges, it’s also a much more comfortable, joyful place to live.
Because in Bad Creative land, there are no archetypes hovering over you.
It’s just you and your ideas — unless you count your imposter syndrome sulking in a corner, still trying to insist you scroll that Good Creative’s website one more time.
Good creatives present picture-perfect.
Bad creatives revel in the mess and the madness.
Good creatives make us feel calm.
Bad creatives challenge us, and make us reconsider what’s possible.
Good creatives always provide us with things we Like.
Bad creatives offer things that pierce our hearts permanently when they land properly, and attract our admiration not by how they appear but by who they are.
So if no one’s told you today:
You’re free to make a mess out there, Sally.
You’re free to be a little chaotic, to try and fail in public, and get dirt under your fingernails while you do it.
No one’s looking that hard, anyway.
After all, the world is full of enough people trying to be Good Creatives.
So, dare I propose:
Why not try and be a Bad one?
Bad to the bone,
Photo by Jonathan Greenaway on Unsplash