In mathematics, specifically algebra, there is an order of operations, a set order in which you must do various tasks in order to come up with the right answer. Forget that order and you will never get the equation right. It’s downright maddening. What’s the order? I don’t remember. I always hated math.
But this much I know, just as there is an order of operations in math, there is an order of priority in creativity and if you let your work fall out of that order, it will be maddening too—maddening enough to make you quit. The order goes like this.
For Happiness in creative pursuits, God is first, You are second the people who Love your work are third, followed quite distantly by Everybody else. I’m not sure if this is a valid equation, but I know it’s a path to a happy, fulfilled, Christian creative life. In this world full of critics and people that will put your work down, it’s important to know this order of priority. If Happiness (fulfillment, etc.) is what you seek, stick to this order and you will create dynamic work that blesses God, yourself and (some) others. It really comes down to who you want to please.
G-Because I write for creatives of faith, the most important priority is that we please God. This does not mean that we have to create exclusively Christian content, but it does mean that God should be consulted and considered. Prayer is a component of this as is asking yourself some real questions related to whether or not the project you are about to undertake will end up honoring God. Pleasing God is our first priority.
Y-Next you need to please yourself. Does this piece represent you well? Does it make you happy? Are you pleased with what you have created? There are two components of this. The first is bringing your very best to the project. This is no time to compare your work to someone who is much further along than you are. That will only breed discouragement. No, what you want to do is bring your very best to the work each day. The goal is constant growth and improvement, not perfection. Secondly, you’ll need to silence the inner critic. You’ll know him. He’s the one that will keep you tweaking ad infinitum or hiding your work in a closet until it meets some unattainable/shifting goal of perfection. Pleasing yourself is your second priority.
L-These are the people who love your work. The should be considered as well. They are the people who buy your work, follow you, or simply the ones to whom your work speaks. Once you have pleased God and yourself,they should be your next consideration.
E-Finally please everyone else. Actually that’s probably not completely accurate, because, truth be known, you can’t please everyone without making generic junk and making yourself feel miserable. What I am trying to say is these people are your last priority. You don’t create for them at all unless they happen to see something you’ve done, and change into L’s.
Chances are if you work to please the first two you will find fulfillment and satisfaction and a side effect of that will be you’ll build a tribe of L’s. The key is not to create for the E’s but to show them your GY pleasing work, to give them the opportunity to become L’s.
Unfortunately, most creatives end up trying to go EGLY or ELGY please not neither of these things equals happiness. Only GYLE does that.