Why Wait to Turn Your Creativity Loose?

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Why Wait to Turn Your Creativity Loose

Hanging out on some Lego fan boards the other day, I came across a comment from a fan of the Elves line of products. (Elves will be ending this year, according to rumor, so that’s what spurred the following comments.) This person said she’s glad Elves is ending, because now she can finally make her own creations without worrying about the direction the line might move in later.

I’ve heard this same comment from writers of fan fiction, as well as artists and other creatives. They’re happy when an author or movie/TV director ends a series because now they can write their own stories/make their own stuff without worrying about whether their ideas conflict with the direction the author is taking the story.

These comments make me scratch my head. Who cares what’s going on in the story world if you’re going to make your own thing? Why wait to turn your creativity loose until the “real” story is finished? You could be waiting for years. Think of all the fun things you could churn out in that timeframe. Think of all the creativity you may waste if you wait.

Side story tangent: I grew up when Star Wars first released in theaters. The action figures and playsets soon flooded the marketplace. I got as many as I could beg my parents into giving me. And I played the heck out of those things.  I recreated a lot of scenes from the first movie, but in between movies my imagination had to do the work. I created all kinds of adventures, wrote scripts for my own “movies,” and didn’t give a rat’s patootie if they were “canon.” I was having fun.

Here’s the thing: If you have an idea for a story or creation, go ahead and make it. You don’t work for the manufacturer, author, or studio, so it doesn’t matter if your creation conflicts with theirs. Remaining true to “canon” is only important if you intend to enter a contest, or take your creation to some sort of fan event where people will crucify you for deviating from the storyline.

Otherwise, what difference does it make whether your story/idea deviates from the “accepted” storyline? Half the fun in making things is seeing where they lead. You may end up liking your idea far more than whatever the author/studio comes up with. If you like it enough, you may have years of fun ahead of you writing and making things that take place in your world, even if it doesn’t match the creator’s.

But if you wait for the end, you may run into two problems: First, the thing you want to write/create about may never end. Or it may not end for a long time. Let’s say you want to write fan fiction about George Martin’s Fire and Ice series. Or you want to make a Lego model based on some aspect of the series. The series isn’t finished and the way it’s going, it may never be finished. (He’s not getting younger.) Do you really want to wait for years and years to do your own thing? Or possibly never get to do it because you’re waiting for the official end that never comes?

(Incidentally, if I had waited for Star Wars to end before creating my own thing, I’d still be waiting, 40+ years later. That’s a lot of waiting.)

Second, you may never get around to doing the thing you want to do. By the time the series is over, you may have forgotten your idea, or lost interest. The series may end so badly that it taints your desire to do anything with it forever. The creator may die or sell off the series, and the person who takes it over may do awful things with it. Your health may prevent you from doing the thing, or you may have moved on in life and have a more demanding job, kids, etc. that keep you from doing the thing you want to do. Then all you have is a pile of “What if’s,” and “If only’s.” All those brilliant ideas you had for fun are now wasted.

Of course, you may just be better off doing your own thing, in a world you create from scratch. There’s something deeply satisfying about writing your own things, or creating models or art from the ether. You definitely don’t have to wait for someone else to decide your future direction, and you can profit from your own work. It’s not generally legal to sell fanfic or creations based on licensed properties. (And some properties ask that you not post your stuff online at all.)

Some people simply like working within an established world, however. And that’s fine. But it’s kind of silly to say that you won’t make any creations within that world until the original creator finishes it. Since you can’t profit from fan creations, the only person you’re doing this for is yourself. If that’s the case, why deprive yourself of the fun? Why wait for an end date so you can match up with canon?

Why not go ahead and make the thing and then see if your ideas align with the original creator’s? If they do, then you can take solace in the fact that you think like a highly creative person. If they don’t, then you can always change your stuff to match the current storyline. Or not. But at least by not waiting for the end, you won’t have wasted all your creativity and ideas on something that never ends, or ends badly.

(Photo courtesy of ElisaRiva)

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