Trying New Types of Creativity {Chasing Creative}

We're always trying new things as little kids. Our parents, teachers, and friends are always encouraging us to sign up for that class or go to that summer camp or "just give it a shot."

And then we enter high school, where everything is more competitive (and more expensive), and the implicit message becomes "Only try this if you're going to be good at it."

In adulthood, you can pretty much forget about trying new things. You've got your hobbies and the things you're known for. No need to branch out now! At best, you'll embarrass yourself, and at worst, you'll fail miserably and waste a bunch of money.

But as per usual, my cohost Abbie and I disagree with this mindset. Who says we can't try new things as adults? Whether it's signing up for weekly piano lessons, taking a one-time watercolor class, or tackling a new project in the privacy of your own living room, we think everyone should make space for new creative endeavors in their lives. 

New creative projects can fill us up in so many unexpected ways. Getting uncomfortable, starting from scratch, learning something new, and even failing can all help us grow as creative people. We strongly believe that trying new creative projects is good for the soul, even if it's awkward.

Listen in to this week's Chasing Creative episode to hear more about the types of new projects we've given a try in adulthood, how we make room for them in our everyday lives, and the things we'd like to take a shot at in the future. 

When was the last time you tried a new creative project? How did it go?

Awkward Guidelines for Starting Something New and Scary

In my other life, I'm someone with a small but encouraging following. You could even call it a platform, a very small one that only has two steps up to the top.

Still, there's something about knowing that your words will be read by people on the other side of the screen. Some of them will share your work. A handful will get in touch personally to tell you your words matter to them.

I'm by no means an "influencer" or a big name on the internet. But people online and in my real life often approach me to ask for tips about writing or blogging or building an online business with an actual audience. 

"It's scary to start," they say. "I don't even know where to begin." 

"It gets better," I tell them. "Just do the work, take baby steps. It will add up over time."

I mean these things when I say them. But now I'm here, starting a new blog with approximately four followers, and I'm faced with reality:

It's hard to start from scratch. I forgot about that.

 

It feels natural to send an email to hundreds of people for business. It's more daunting to sit here, in this quiet, nearly empty space, and tap out a post that only a few will read. It's more vulnerable to share your life with two people in a coffee shop than to tell carefully selected anecdotes onstage in front of a crowd.

I'm taking my own advice, and it's hard. So here, for you, are my platform-building guidelines for awkward creatives who just want to make stuff:

1. Your website should not be perfect.

If it is, you're procrastinating on the real work of sharing your art and connecting with people. Don't hide behind excuses like I did when it took me NINE MONTHS to launch this tiny little blog as an already experienced blogger.

2. Don't be everywhere.

The gurus will tell you that all the social media is important. And it can be. But not right now. Right now, you need to focus on doing the work and putting yourself out there again and again and again. Pick one place that you don't totally hate to hang out and stick with it for a while.

3. Publish a few posts quietly.

This gets you used to hitting the "publish" button without feeling like you want to vomit. It also means that visitors will have more posts to enjoy when you launch and they love you.

4. There's no good time to do this.

It doesn't matter what "this" is, there will always be a reason the timing is bad. Your full-time job is demanding, your kids are too young, you don't have enough money, your laptop is old and slow . . . there will always be something to stop you. If being creative and putting your efforts online is something you want to do, there is no better day than today.

5. Remember the people. 

Don't think about numbers like pageviews and followers. Think about people's names. When you get one follower, find out who she is. Learn her name. Get to know her. Your work is about connecting with her, and anyone else who decides to follow along with what you're doing. Those people and their names matter more than any numbers.

How do you get over trying things that are new and scary?