I’ve always loved to make.
But when you’re chasing your passions and trying to use creativity to fuel your lifestyle, it gets hard. Things don’t feel carefree anymore.
Even attending Blogtacular felt like making a statement. “Hello world, I’m a blogger!” Who am I to share my ideas? What if everyone thinks I’m some passé bore? (When I did get the guts to say hello, so many people had the same fears. Go figure.)
It’s easy to get anxious when your ideas aren’t just about having fun. How are you supposed to approach creativity when it’s your work?
These ten lessons have changed my perspective. I hope they help you too.
1. You never lose the fear.
Grace Bonney, with all her poise and hard-earned experience, shared how things have changed since she started blogging in 2004. (You can still see some of the first posts on Design*Sponge.) Her message was to embrace change and the fear that comes with it. If you don’t, you’ll burnout.
Yup, even Grace has to deal with self-doubt and making mistakes. And in her five steps to embrace change, she told us to acknowledge our fears first. The boogie man is a lot less scary after you peek under the bed.
It’s an almost brutal truth, but it’s comforting too.
The goody bag tote by Nikki McWilliams
2. If you fail, try again.
Francesca Stone of Fall for DIY shared her journey to becoming a full-time blogger. Fran has been blogging full-time for less than a year, and it took her more than one try to make that happen.
If you fail, figure out what you did wrong and try something different.
My favourite takeaways from Fran’s talk:
- Make a plan that you can refer to when you’re stressed. Focus on where you’re going to remind yourself why the work is worth it now!
- Don’t let brands dictate your story or your voice. Be selective in who you work with.
- Value consistent quality over a strict schedule.
Goody bag contents. Clockwise from top left:
Baggage Reclaim notebook; tester pot of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint;
Nikki McWilliams biz card; peppermint sweets; Laserbean keyring;
Betty magazine; motivational banner by Planes Workshop
3. Don’t be artificial.
Artificial—just no. Kat M might have been talking about how horrific artificial light is for photography, but I’m going to use this opportunity to get all deep and philosophical instead.
One theme throughout the day was collaboration. (More on that in a sec.) You can’t collaborate without being true to your personality and what you want from your work. Being you attracts people who will support what you do. Two heads are better than one—if they speak the same language. I mean that figuratively, but literally helps too.
4. You can always find the time for your passions.
In two years, their passion for a greener urban jungle has grown into a community of 600+ bloggers and thousands of social media followers. In Igor’s words, you find 5-10 minutes here and there.
If you’re passionate enough, you find the time. There is no satisfaction in easy work.
Above: Lara Watson & Jessica Bateman from Mollie Makes shared
10 ways to find & evolve your voice.
5. Judge your work through the eyes of a friend.
How would you approach your work if only a good friend was going to see it? I loved Lara’s and Jessica’s tip to imagine you’re speaking to a friend. I think their advice applies to any creative project, not just blogging.
And true friends won’t be afraid to say, “You could do better” or “That’s not like you at all!”
What would a friend say about your work?
6. Digital tools can’t replace humanity.
Digital techniques can make creativity easier to express. You can carry your life’s work in your pocket.
But digital work doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Our creativity is shaped by our humanity and our history. Our nature is to be social and have a physical impact on the world.
Anthony Peters is creator and co-director of Made You Look, a film about how creative people work in a digital age. He ended Blogtacular with a question: Are you doing what you love? Or just what is expected of you?
True connection is much more than just retweets and likes. Creativity can, did, and does exist without digital tools.
7. Let go of control.
Quick disclaimer: I worked for an Annie Sloan stockist. Her stuff is amazing. End of note.
Chalk Paint is proof that what you share will evolve beyond your control. People tweak things to suit themselves. If you make it easier for people to do that, you’ll win them over. Custom is king!
Letting go of control is scary. If you’re building a community (what creative person doesn’t want that?) you’re not the only one allowed to get creative. Even a photograph tells a different story to everyone who views it.
(Of course, that doesn’t mean people can steal your stuff.)
8. Invest in yourself.
How much would you pay to take the train and have a coffee with a new friend? Or to ask Grace Bonney a question in person? What about 1-on-1 advice from people you want to work with?
I’m always worried about investing in the wrong things: the wrong software, or books, or gadgets. But I’ve never regretted investing in an experience or in myself. Trust your gut and invest when you can make the most of an opportunity. Attending Blogtacular cost me £270. (Ticket, travel, hotel, and food.) For the value I’ve gotten, that was a bargain.
9. Collaborate, even if it’s just to flesh out ideas.
Projects don’t have to be epics. Collaboration can be “just” a brainstorming session. When we work together on creative projects, we make things better for everyone. We are the ones who control our culture. We determine how open and welcoming we are of new ideas.
Don’t hold back on sharing things. Ideas will never happen if we can’t even talk about them.
10. No one knows best.
No one. Not you, not some arts professor, not your idol who’s been blogging for 10 years—no one. We’re all learning together. We all have ideas that could be valuable to someone else. For every person that thinks an idea is great, there will always be a hundred more who don’t like it.
No one expects you to know everything. Just start.
Acknowledge the fear, collaborate, and show your humanity.
We’re all in this together.
What lesson resonates with you the most? Let’s talk about it!
Lots of crafty love,
Disclosure: I’m not affiliated with or sponsored by anyone mentioned in this post.
I just like what these people do.