Robert Birming

The "not creative" trap

I like posting reviews on Google Maps, especially when I'm traveling. Add a few photos, write something, maybe answer a few questions. I find it both relaxing and enjoyable – and to some extent rewarding in a fun way.

But every once in a while that inner critic starts playing its soundtrack: "It's not creative, it's a waste of time. You're giving your work and effort away for free to a multi-billion dollar company."

That last part may be true (or rather: it's the payment for the "free" part of using their services). But is that a problem? As long as I don't put any personal value or false sense of identity into it – and I'm aware and okay with the fact that Google can remove it all tomorrow – what's the problem?

I write a review in my own words, expressing my own experience of the event, and I edit photos in a way that I think looks good and does justice to my visit. Why wouldn't that be creative? Expressing something in your way, getting a little better at it each time, and enjoying doing it. Win, win, win.

We often have this messed up romanticized idea of what it means to be a creative person:

It's fascinating to read those biographies and watch those biopics – but we're all different, thankfully. It's beauty in diversity, and diversity makes the world beautiful.

Posting reviews on a map won't win you a Pulitzer Prize or Time's Photo of the Year, but don't dismiss such activities as mundane nonsense. You are truly unique, and that uniqueness is part of a beautiful whole.

If you like what you do, keep doing it.