There are trends in today’s world, and there are things that could be better described as mega-trends. One of them is – building on things I’ve discussed in posts on this blog over the past few weeks, months and years – the notion of a creative society.
Everywhere we look, creativity is lauded, creativity is longed for, creativity is heralded as that-which-will-pull-us-all-up-from-the-doldrums-and-usher-us-into-Utopia. At the same time, a whole generation – and a lot of other people as well – are familiarizing themselves with the multitude of tools, methods, principles and best practices that can help them discover their own creativity and develop it into something worth pursuing. And at the same time, technological and sociological innovations allow these people to reach out, reach other people, find an audience and engage with them in ways and on a scale previously impossible.
Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. Creativity is characterised by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions. Creativity involves two processes: thinking, then producing. If you have ideas, but don’t act on them, you are imaginative but not creative. – Creativity At Work
As always, my angle on this is from the point of a storyteller, writer, producer and content creator. As we discussed earlier, harnessing the audience’s inert creativity and their inert desire to engage, interact and create in connection to content that they connect to and care about, is imperative today. If you do not engage your audience, co-create with them and validate their interactions, someone else will.
This is, of course, assuming that you as a creator is interested in long-term engagement, a loyal – if sometimes headstrong and critical – following, a give-and-take relationship with an audience that derives entertainment, information and/or pleasure from your creative output, just as you can derive the same from theirs. I will admit, I don’t see why anyone who creates content would NOT want this, but then again I might lack imagination.
What I see though, is a certain responsibility on our part as creators. I’ve talked about the need to have clear calls-to-action, showing everyone a clear desired route ahead. I’ve talked about the need to plan for long-term engagement, of the need of setting up clear goal posts and of the need to research the target audience so that all of these efforts are correctly applied. But there is another responsibility as well.
If our audience – or at least the active part of our audience, as there will always be those not inclined to activate themselves – is our co-creators, our co-producers, then we need to address the whole of the output, including the output by the audience, as a part of the production process. We are no longer talking about a first step, which is our output, and a second step, which is what the audience creates. It is all the same production, and needs to be handled as such.
This involves a change in mindset. For instance, we are looking at a kind of propagation planning – we don’t think about the people we want to reach, our audience-co-creators, but the people we want to reach through them, a much greater audience. Or financial-wise – we should be prepared to reward those who actively create together with us, within our story world, not only with t-shirts and mugs but with money as well, as they are, in a way, also working for us.
And this ”us” in this mindset is no longer ”us as original producers and creators”. The ”us” we’re talking about in this setting is the whole of our narrative arch, of our story world and our stories within it. It is, in a sense, both bigger and smaller than the people who originally put the first ideas and stories together.
In a truly creative society, there is no “keeping control of the narrative” or “keeping everything under wraps”. And in truth, there is no need to, as long as the ensuing action and interaction is planned for, expected and welcomed.
These are my first thoughts on this matter that I felt comfortable jotting down. Any thoughts or feedback appreciated!