As a Content Creator I need to create, almost everyday, something that will inspire others. And if I’m not creating something, then I feel like I’m not accomplishing anything, or that I didn’t accomplish anything important. Creative is at it’s core problem solving, identifying patterns, and using information in new and unique ways. We’re creative all the time, we just don’t often realize we’re being creative. But being a “Creative” usually means that we’re intentionally creative. We take things a step further.
Most of the people I know are creative, and many of them would tell you that creativity takes practice, and patience. However, practicing creativity can be difficult. Sometimes, we’re expected to be creative and yet we are given very little time to actually practice. This is where having a journal just for creativity comes in especially handy. Since I’ve been keeping a record of my thoughts, ideas, experiences, especially in regard to my creativity, I have found that I am more likely to apply my creative skills to my daily tasks, I’m also more creative in general, and I am able to take notice of patterns in regards to my creativity–I tend to be more creative in the evenings or at night, for example. And I’ve also found that the more I interact with my creativity in my journal the more motivated I am to be creative.
Journals are a great place to write down, work through, and expand upon your ideas and questions. I write ideas for videos, projects, books, and household DIY projects, as well as things I might want to try, things I need to practice, products I want to try out, classes I want to take, books I want to read, and anything else that comes to mind–like how to re-organize my craft and art supplies. One of the best reasons I’ve found for using a creative journal is that it helps me to hone, develop and refine not only my art and writing skills, but my critical and creative thinking skills as well. I’m much more organized, focused, and productive now because of journaling.
However, creativity doesn’t always come naturally. Sometimes, especially some days, it takes a lot of practice to maintain my creative momentum. Whether you’re a writer, a blogger, an artist, a crafter, a scrapbooker, planner, or any other kind of creative, there is always a new technique to learn and or a skill to practice. Writing your ideas down (a brain dump or a mind spill), mind-mapping your thoughts, and/or practicing your drawing techniques all help you continue to develop essential skills (and believe me, I need all the help I can get). Skills like refining ideas, organizing and/or expressing your thoughts, which have been part of my goals lately, and much more.
If you’re anything like me, and you tend to be a perfectionist when it comes to your creativity, especially since much of my creativity is on some form or other of social media, then perfectionism could be holding you back. When you tend to focus on the result, rather than the process that inner critic we often call self doubt, kills creativity. A creative journal can help you silence your self-doubt. In my Creative Journal I try to make sure that the feeling have is that I’m drawing or writing for myself, even though I might be using my ideas and doodles for my work, but I’m less likely to be caught up in the perfectionism if I keep the feeling of this is just for myself. If I can focus on the process when I’m working in my creative journal instead of the result then I’m much more creative and the perfectionism and self-doubt don’t bother me (as much).
Since there aren’t any rules when it comes to journaling, especially creative journaling, there’s no wrong way to journal, so whatever you write, or draw, or plan, or create in your journal is “all good.” It’s a safe space where your creativity can progress without having to worry about your work being judged or ridiculed. If you haven’t picked up a journal and been a bit creative today, then now is the time to do it. In the next post we’ll talk about supplies… what kind of journals are out there, pens, etc… but for now all you really need to be creative in your journal is a journal and a pen or pencil. Have fun creating.
A few years ago I attempted to work through this book but didn’t make it through it. As I attempt to make the journey through it this time I’m finding it quite a different experience.
***Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.***
Week 1-Uncovering a sense of Optimism: Being a beginner, focusing on the positive
Julia Cameron said: It took courage to allow myself to pursue something that I loved. I had to allow myself the luxury of learning. I had to focus on process and not on finished product. Resign competition. Stop comparing myself to my idols. When taking lessons, I have noticed how often my “good” lesson come on days when I had the most resistance, When I felt myself to be the most rusty. I have learned good writing/creating and good moods do not necessarily go together. On some of my worst days, the best work emerges. How true this is for me.
The Diving Rod portion: Don’t rob ourselves of the opportunity to be a beginner, Being a beginner is very rewarding. It brings both excitement and self-respect. Write down a deferred dream….
I’m living my dream, but I do have dreams that I’ve deferred. Dreams like having an actual studio. Creating my own journal classes. Making enough money at my “creative content business” to be financially independent. Writing a book about Creativity, Creative Journaling… and actually publishing it, as well as finishing my fiction novel and publishing. Getting back into blogging on a regular basis and doing well with it. Getting fit and healthy, which is something I’m currently working on. Some of what I’ve deferred as been because of self doubt, fear, and or procrastination (usually stemming from that self doubt/fear. But I’m working on pursuing my goals and dreams and working on an action plan for some of what I really want and need in life.
Encouragement portion: All artists need co-conspirators to cheer them on in their endeavors. Stay the distance. Don’t quit. How do people do that? How did they keep their optimism and their courage intact? We all need help sometimes. No man is an island… we need support, and we need to stay open to allowing others to help us.
Cameron wrote: “You’re lucky you’ve got other projects,” Bruce told us. His hint was spoken as a true artist. He was reminding us that the joy had to lie in the process and not in the product. Doing the work was the best cure for the difficulty of doing the work…shared the minute we were back at the piano in creative waters our anxiety eased.”
One of the things that really resonated with me was the premise that when we’re actively working, though Cameron said “busy,” we get better. And the more creative I am, the more productive I am, the better I feel, the more creative I feel. As long as I don’t over do it, and don’t allow myself to over work, and then get overwhelmed, I find myself feeling much better and I want to work, am creative.
Divining Rod portion: Make a list of people you can go to for encouragement. These people are your “believing mirrors.” For me, there are a few close family members I can rely on, and a few inside of my core circle or tribe that are my believing mirrors. I owe it to myself to keep in regular contact with them. and to be believing mirrors to themas well.
Focusing portion: As an artist, I must take the time to see. My artist’s eye must be schooled in the particular. It is not healthy for me as an artist to be tuned to the inner movies, always watching the “What if, if only I had’s” as they unspool on the inner screen. (“what if I keep my ranch in New Mexico?” “If only I still had my horses.”) The “What if” and “if only” are poison for an artist. They throw us into the past, which is not good. They dull our lens on the passing world. And it is the passing world that inspiration lies in wait for us. For an artist to be vital, for the work to hold up, there must be primacy given to the here and now. Cameron also shares that she knows this and must work to practice it. If I live in the “then” instead of the “now,” the art dries up.
Cameron also said, “I must work to husband my own optimism. I must cling to the small and positive: walking the dogs, putting words on the page, taking time at the keys of the piano. I must not entertain the large and overwhelming. For me that is romancing trouble. this is so true.Learn to live each day carefully. I must write, I must walk, I must pray. I must content myself with small amounts of progress. Above all, I must not binge on drama and despair. My sanity requires daily maintenance.”
Divining Rod portion: “I can choose to focus on the negative or the positive. I find that when I focus on the positive I feel much happier with myself and what I’m doing, I have a better attitude, and I tend to like and enjoy what I’m doing much better. Cameron, and others, talk about “training our eyes on something” and if we literally can learn to do that we can train ourselves to focus on the positive, the beauty, gratitude, the areas of our lives that bring us inspiration, as well as provide and reward us with even more creativity, grace, beauty, and energize us. “
Make a list of five beautiful things you have spotted and write them down nightly as a new practice. I find that when I do this it rises to moment of pure gratitude too.
the way my husband believes in me and supports me, even though he works extremely long hours yet still takes the time to help me and remind me to take care of myself
the way the singing of the birds in our yard fills me to the brim with joy
the way the birds and squirrels play and feed in the yard, and I’m able to watch them from our kitchen window
the way the breeze touches me when I’m outdoors and fills me the energy of life.
the way my daughter encourages me even when she’s going through her own stuff
Grounding portion: “I strive for a sense of optimism, a feeling that as small as I am, what I am doing still matters in the scheme of things. Optimism is partially the happy accident of psycho dynamics and partially a trained response. Some people seem to be born optimists. The rest of us need to work at it a little. One way to work it is to find and talk to a friend that has some spiritual vitamins stored up to share. Some one with farseeing perspective. “You just need to keep the faith while things unfold.” or become revealed to you. Unfortunately, Spirit is vague about timing. Soon it will happen…What “soon” means to me is to keep on trying.” Don’t quit right before the miracle. Show up bit the bullet and focus.” Cameron also says, “I cannot give up just because the going is tough right now. “Soon” there will be more interest. I must be ready to receive that interest by having kept the faith myself. This means I must buck the tide of discouragement.”
She also states: “Important stuff I find for myself–I walk for Guidance. One thing that I didn’t anticipate when I was younger is how often the going gets rough. As an older artist, I tend to work on larger projects, projects that require years rather than months or weeks to germinate and come to fruition. There is not instant feedback loop. Nothing that says to me often and loudly, “You are doing fine.” In order to have that sense of reassurance, I need to work at the spiritual practice-morning pages, artists dates, and walks. And I must listen also to my friends. Piggyback on their faith when my own faith wears thin. Fatigue can make it hard to have faith. Too much busyness can make it had to have faith. Too much or too little solitude can impact faith. For that matter, so can ab out of hunger or overwork, anything carried to an extreme. Faith thrives on routine. Faith keeps on keeping on. A friend of Cameron’s said, ‘I had to do something with my creative energy or it was going to turn in on me. Doing something productive regardless of the outcome is an act of faith. The doing of a small something when a large something is too much for us is perhaps especially and act of faith. Faith means going forward by whatever means we can.”‘
Cameron said, “Just do the next right thing.’
Divining Rod portion: What actions keep you grounded? The smallest and gentlest acts keep us grounded. As we husband our lives with care and attention, we are rewarded with feelings of peace and accomplishment. List five homely actions that are grounding for you. Execute one of them.
walking in our yard
sitting at the picnic table in the mornings with my cup of coffee and writing morning pages
talking to my husband
spending time with family
Possibilities: Cameron talks about her two dogs, straining at their leashes, and they, too, are bundled in coats. How she admires the early flowers, Tiger Lily plunges in pursuit of a robin. And laughs and tells herself she is a perfect artist’s dog, always chasing something that is just out of reach- a possibility. She says, “I must work a little at a time, always laboring to bring into form something just beyond my reach. I am like Tiger Lily, leaping after that elusive bird. One day, I will catch it. At the least, I will certainly try. As artists, we must learn to try. We must learn to act affirmatively. Wherever creativity is afoot, so is a blossoming. All creative acts are acts of initiative. We start with nothing- “the verdant void” -and impregnate it with our own creative spark. Art is born, but not without labor on our part. In order to make art, we must be willing to labor. We must be willing to reach inside and draw forth what we find their. On an inner plane, we are all connected to a larger whole. This is what is meant by inspiration, this connections to something greater than ourselves. But it begins with where w are and what we are. it begins with possibility.Entertaining the possible is the province of art. It is the possible that sets the creative engine humming. “it is possible,” the artist thinks, “that I can write a play.” “it is possible, I can make a sculpture.” “it is possible I can make a film.” Out of the notion, “I can” comes the next thought: I think I will.” The impulse is playful. Like the crocus that pushes into spring willy-nilly, the artist also pushes forward into growth.
Divining Rod portion: Very often we are our own wet blanket. We do not allow ourselves to see and to seize our opportunities. list ten phrases…”I could try_____” fill in the blank with what ever comes to mind. Write very rapidly and do not concern yourself with the practicality of your responses.
I could try:
Creating creative journaling classes… and easy quick one, like for Skillshare
Vlogging my daily walks
Purging the clothes I’ve held onto that I know I really need to get rid of
Finishing the projects I’ve started, the one’s I am really interested in, and letting go of the projects that just don’t resonate
Quasi scripting my coffee chat videos so I stay focused
Taking an in person art class
Taking a photography class
Taking a writing class
Creating an outline for my Creative Journaling book
Years ago when I first tried to work through the 12 week self guided course of Finding Water, I found that it was too similar to The Artist Way, but I’d just finished that book and I should have waited a while longer before starting Finding Water. This time around I find the book much more interesting.
I learned so much from The Artist Way, and since I’m really working hard to get out of the limbo, sort of auto pilot state I’ve been in for the past 2 years, I thought working through Finding Water would be a good way to do that. I’m not pressuring myself to rush through the the course. If some weeks it takes me 2 weeks to work through what is supposed to be for one week, I’m hoping to really get back into the swing of things, but since I’ve been ordered by my doctor to take it easy for a week (my rotator cuff is acting up again and I had to go get a steroid shot and they prescribed steroids and pain medication) so walking for the next few days is limited to just walking around the yard, but I can at least get outside and walk a bit. I’m feeling inspired, more open-minded, more creative, and better overall since I started working through Finding Water. I hope you’ll join me… you can do it at your liesure or work through as suggested by Cameron. I know people who have chosen to work on the 12 week program in 12 months instead.
Mr. Rockstar (David) was driving “over the road,” and I had to have surgery (a hysterectomy), which meant I was bed ridden for a bit. While bed ridden I really got into my “fauxbonichi.” It wasn’t just the journaling, it was creating the pages–combining art and words, documenting my life on the pages of my journal. I hadn’t created art in almost three decades, but I was having fun and being creative so I was happy. I wanted to get better. I wanted to find my groove again (I loved to draw and paint all throughout elementary, middle, and high school). So I worked on prompts, watched videos (a whole lot of journal with me videos, mostly Hobonichi and Fauxbonichi videos back then).
The more I worked on my pages, trying different things the more joy I felt. The less anxious I felt. After getting over my initial fear of “what if I don’t do it right?” or “what if it’s awful?” or “what if I suck at this?” and then there was fear of the blank page–what do I put on the page? But after more and more journaling, practicing my artistic skills and techniques I got over the bulk of those fears. I found adding art to my journal pages to be fun, relaxing, and interesting. I learned a lot and am still learning a lot.
Though it is fun, and I absolutely love documenting my life with art and words, I’m still a bit overwhelmed at times by the sheer volume of different means and mediums, and the ways that people use them. There people who simply use pen and ink, some add watercolor to their pen and ink, while others use watercolor and gouache, along with colored pencils, and there are those who use acrylics. Not to mention other things you can use on your pages like ephemera, pictures, collage, colored pencils, markers, crayons, stamps, and/or stains. I’ve tried a few different mediums, but I always find myself primarily using pen, ink, watercolor, pictures, everyday ephemera, colored pencils, and/or markers.
I’ve also tried various styles, from more realistic to more illustrated, a bit of a comic or clipart style, to a combination of styles. I love to just sketch things, but I’d say my favorite is when I can capture the essence of what I’m sketching no matter which style I use. I realize that my journal pages and sketchbook pages are not masterpieces, they are not likely to ever be displayed in a gallery, but they’re mine. Not only did I put a bit of love into the pages but I also had fun and was able to capture a bit of my life onto each page.
I’ve learned so much on this journey of combining art and words to my journal pages, but the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. In the beginning I compared my pages to the pages of others–big mistake, but once I started looking at how far I’d come with my own technique it made me realize it’s really more about the moment. Some days my pages are so good they make me take a second look at them to make sure they’re my own. Other days I feel like I’m having a bit of a Mercury Retrograde with my art. On those days I can’t seem to draw a straight line, much less illustrate my day. So those are days I make it more fun and childlike, more whimsical. Other days I simply splash on some watercolor and add ephemera, pictures, and journaling and call it a day.
One of my favorite things about a blank page in a journal or sketchbook is that there are all these possibilities. You never know what kind of page you’ll find in my journals or sketchbooks. Some days I document the book I’m currently reading, other days a bit of a self portrait and a quote. What I create on my pages really depends on my mood, the events of the day, and what materials (like photos or ephemera) I have on hand.
Whenever I do something creative I feel like 1. I’ve accomplished something even if the outcome isn’t brilliant, 2. I’ve had fun, even if the outcome isn’t what I’d hoped it would be, and 3. just doing it, just being creative brings me joy and relieves my anxiety, stress, and helps me reign in my focus (always a good thing when you have anxiety, depression, and ADHD).
I try really hard not to criticize my work, or anyone else’s. Some days our work might look like a flour sifter, other days it might look more like a cup of hot cocoa–but beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder so either way–flour sifter or cup of cocoa I’m happy. How about you?
The Bullet Journal Method Book by Ryder Carroll, has changed how I look at not only my planning method, which is what I thought a bullet journal was–but nope, it’s a journal, but it has also changed how I look at my journaling. It feels more like a hybrid between a journal, common place journal, and an agenda, but we’ll talk about that later. For now, I want to concentrate on how much it’s actually helped me declutter my life, including my planning, and journals.
I’ve been practicing a form of bullet journaling on and off for a couple of years now. It has been an important tool for organization and productivity for me, as well as an outlet for a busy mind, but until I read Carroll’s book I was more busy than productive, overwhelmed, and no matter what I tried things just didn’t work–I would be productive for a bit, less overwhelmed and stressed out, but before long I’d end up frustrated because the bullet journal system didn’t seem to work as well for me as it did for so many others. Then I started reading the book The Bullet Journal Method.
If you’re not familiar with the bullet journal here’s a quote from the book written by the founder of the Bullet Journal system, Ryder Carroll:
Whether you’re an experienced Bullet Journalist or a newcomer, The Bullet Journal Method is for anyone struggling to find their place in a digital age. It will help you get organized by providing simple tools and techniques that can inject clarity, direction, and focus into your days. (p. 11)
And if you’re still not sure, check out his website and video here.
**Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission,which helps me purchase items to review, at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.**
First, let me just say I’m a creative person at heart. I am a content creator: I create videos on Youtube and on Patreon; I am a writer, an artist, a DIYer, but I’ve always thought of myself as a journaler, not a planner. I plan to make my life easier, to help me get and stay organized and productive, so when the bullet journal seemed to be more about pretty spreads, fancy to-do lists and trackers, and/or a hell of a lot of work to keep it neat and organized (for some, not all) I all but gave up. I tried going back to the system again and again, in various ways… and then I had this big A-HA moment when reading the book.
Bullet Journaling is so much more than just pretty spreads, fancy to-do lists and trackers. It takes mindfulness, adds a plan, and takes mindfulness and a strategy to maximize your time, energy, and potential, and can help you cut out the extra and allows you to focus on the important tasks, the steps to complete projects, and reach your goals.
The Bullet Journal consists of 5 parts: Index, Future Log, Monthly Log, Daily Log, and Collections. The Index assists you in locating things in your notebook–like a map. The Future Log is a brief glance at the coming months and things that you need to keep note of in the future. The Monthly Log is a timeline of the month and a list of tasks, and is the “bird’s eye view” of things. The Daily Log is the workhorse of the system–it is “designed to capture your daily tasks, events, and/or notes. Collections are considered to be the building blocks that allow you to dig deeper into things, whether it is a specific project, planning a trip, or even researching a topic of interest.
The day to day activities and events are chronicled with a simple bullet point or other key symbols that help keep things simple, and helps remove distractions and allows you to focus on the things that are most relevant. You can keep your pages as simple and minimal as your want, or decorate and be as creative as you want. The bullet journal method is simple and flexible, and he recommends using the simple backbone of the method for about 3 months before modifying it–however, if you look up “bullet journal” in Google, Pinterest, Instagram, Youtube… you’ll find pages that are really simple in design to pages that are extremely creative and artistic. Don’t be scared… There are hacks a plenty if you’d like to add art without actually drawing, and great resources if you’d rather keep your pages simple and minimalistic.
I’m going to be upfront… I’m not great at some of the aspects of the system. Like rapid logging. I’m learning it, and I’m getting better at it, but I’m a wordy, rambly, chatty person (unless I’m in a crowd) so rapid logging is not second nature to me because for it to really work efficiently you need to break things down to the bare necessities (did anyone hear the Jungle Book song, the one from the Disney movie for kids, in their head just then? well, I did). So I’m working on the “bare necessities” and what that means to me. And that’s the whole thing with any kind of journal or planner system… that you work things out for yourself–what works for you. …”I mean the bare necessities, forget about your worries and your strife… mother nature’s recipes that bring the bare necessities of life…where ever I wonder or where ever I roam…the bare necessities of life will come to you…”
Okay, okay…enough with the bare necessities, but since I’ve been made to “rest and get well” lately because of the sinus infection, bronchitis, and pneumonia that I had to get at the same time… I have been able to rest at ease lately because…well, I’ve had to because I’m sick, and my husband has put his Taurus foot down and won’t budge about how much I can do… but it’s actually given me some real time for reflection. And that reflection time has come in handy. I’ve spent a lot of time reading, or I should say re-reading various sections of the book so I can get better at things like rapid logging.
I feel like I’m almost on Pause, but that’s not been a bad thing, at least not recently because having slowed down has actually made me re-think my priorities, how I do things, the time I waste, how I could really work smarter not harder, but it’s more than that… If the majority of my journaling, planning, art, etc is more about what I’m doing as a content creator then I’m missing out… I’ve taken more time the past few months to do things in my journal, planner, etc for myself, without filming… and it’s helped, but I realized while on this “Pause” that part of the issue for me isn’t about that at all, it’s actually the opposite now… I have so many ideas, so many things I want to do, but not enough me or time to do them all. I definitely don’t have enough time to do them, film doing them, edit said videos, write random blog posts (hoping that I can get back into the habit of writing a post or two a week at least), and still live a life outside of content creation.
So I slowed my over active brain down by doing a brain spill. I spilled all those thoughts, ideas, questions, doubts, and a-ha moments I’ve been having lately… Then I started dividing them up into categories: Priority: yes or no. Can do: yes or no. Will actually do: yes or no. Requires buying things: Yes or no. And then I broke what was left down into sub-categories like How long will it take? A week? Month? Quarter? Year? And that left me with what things are actually important to me, the priority things; what things I will do but also can be done; and how long a project might take. Immediately after putting pen to paper and spilling all those words onto the page I felt better.
The next thing I realized is that no matter how well Ryder Carroll has explained the Bullet Journal System and how it can be individualized, there are people like me who are creative and need or want to be a bit creative with it, thus the pretty, fancy bullet journals. I’ve simplified mine… to little bits of art here and there, but it’s much more functional now. And I’ve been modifying how I do things in my Hobonichi, the journal/planner that is Grand Central Station…I have stopped limiting myself. Stopped thinking in terms of “I should do this here…and this there…” I’ve decided to truly follow my intuition and that means sticking with my creative journey, which encompasses art, journals, writing, and the bullet journal system.
So here’s what I’ve taken away from the Bullet Journal Method in a nut shell. Ryder calls it a “mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system” and that is definitely what it feels like now that I understand the system more. It feels a bit like having an extra part in my brain to help me deal with my life, and all that my life entails–including the creative bits. And I can include as much or as little creative bits as I want to. Eventually, I am going to merge the creative journal and the bullet journal together. I can feel it coming. But for now I’m going to stick to being a bit creative here and there in my bullet journal. Work in it this way for the next 3 months like he suggests. The whole Rapid logging thing is really about capturing key words, abbreviating…short hand really. When I think of rapid logging I think of “short hand.” Old school I know but that’s what I think of. So rapid logging is really highlighting the important bits… or capturing the important bits with key words and short hand like abbreviations, symbols, underlining, bold, etc…
And if you really think about what you’re doing, what you’ve done, what you still need to do (what you’ve migrated and why you’ve migrated it)… is it important? Vital? Necessary? Why does it matter? And as you “check in” or reflect on things, the mental inventory, that’s when it clicks… instead of working on auto pilot I’m actually being intentional and mindful of how I use my time and energy, of what is and isn’t working, what I’m doing… Ryder Carroll designed the Bullet Journal to “House whatever your thoughts look like,” which included his notes, schedule, sketches, etc… and to be FLEXIBLE. As I delve more and more into the bullet journal, or the “mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system, ” I find myself understanding much more about the how’s, why’s, what’s, and when’s of my own system and what works for me.
If you’d like to find out more about my journey with the bullet journal check out my video on Youtube:
For the past few months, well really for a little over a year now, I’ve been finding my way through my new normal. When things change we often feel a bit out of sorts. I felt out of sorts in a variety of ways, but I tried to hold to being authentic. Being authentic isn’t always easy, especially when you’re grieving (people want to make you feel better, and you want to feel better, but grief ebbs and flows–and let’s face it, after a while you get tired of being asked how you’re doing? and others sometimes feel awkward when your grief is brought up). To be an authentic person means honesty, openness, integrity. It’s being genuine, “authentic.” When you’re authentic, people find it refreshing to be around you, to get to know you, to interact with you.
So why is being authentic sometimes hard? For the past few years, I’ve been honing my skills and techniques when it comes to journaling: art, handwriting, drawing, composition. And yet it often feels like the insurgence of messages from social media just keep telling me that unless my pages from social media don’t look aesthetically pleasing, which means damn near perfect, then the pages aren’t likely to be seen by many of my peers. However, the messages about being “authentic,” “progress not perfection,” “just be yourself” or “be true to yourself,” or “do it your way” are front and center. Seems like a bit of a contradiction to me.
**Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.**
Don’t get me wrong, phrases like “be authentic” or “progress not perfection” are positive and encouraging statements, even if they can seem a bit cliche, are usually well-intended, but it’s not always easy to just be yourself, which is being authentic; or to let go of the anxiety you feel over your less than perfect but authentic watercolor of Thanksgiving when you’re constantly being bombarded by pictures, posts, videos, etc. that are damn near perfect. So you think to yourself… Hmm, maybe they photoshopped theirs–I sure wish I knew how to use Photoshop. Or maybe they took a class–maybe I should take a class. Or maybe they’ve been practicing for years–maybe I need to practice more. All three of those might be true, or just one of them might be true, yet it doesn’t matter, what matters is how you feel when you’re looking at those pictures–if you’re comparing yourself to others then you’re doing yourself an injustice.
Creativity is such a personal thing, from what and/or how we choose to be creative, to the mediums we use, to the execution, and the process. And yet, for those of us who are creative, especially those of us who are content creators, it is difficult to not feel at least a bit of anxiety, stress over uploading our images, posts, and/or videos on social media when every time you turn around someone is telling you that in order for you to succeed, to grow, to be well liked, and/or to be well received you need to curate your pictures, posts, videos. Or you need this background, or these supplies, or this camera, this type of cover photos, or this kind of thumbnail, or this kind of title or tags… the list is endless.
All of those “things” that we supposedly need to be creative, to keep a journal or a sketchbook or planner, to make a video, to have a Youtube channel or a website/blog or an Instagram account… they are just that–things. Things that may or may not work really well for some. Things that some like and others don’t. In an age where there are more and more people choosing to live a more minimalist life, or who are striving to go deeper instead of wider (check “Depth Year’), I don’t get it. Well, maybe I don’t get why it took me so long to get that “less is sometimes more.”
My Dad used to tell us that “there’s no such thing as can’t,” and for the longest time I reminded myself of that whenever I felt stuck, when I couldn’t figure out how to do something, or when I felt scared that I wasn’t smart enough or good enough or enough in general. But when my Dad died of cancer last year (October 2017) and my Mom was put into ICU and I was fighting to save her, fighting to keep her fighting, I learned what real strength is. What courage really means. My mom was in the hospital for 10 days and 9 nights. Her organs were shutting down when I signed her into the ER, and when they wheeled her into the ICU my Dad was still in one of the rooms because I had to leave my (grown) children with their grandfather so he wouldn’t be alone when he drew his last breath (after the respirator was pulled) so I could admit my mom into the hospital. It’s a year later and I’m finally starting to get my groove back.
I’m finally starting to get back into the flow. My New Normal, as I like to call it. But it wasn’t until the past few months that I finally started to feel remotely normal. That I felt the kind of depth of creativity that I felt before going through such a traumatic experience–my creative well is a bit different now. Now that I finally feel like my “authentic” self, there are a few things that I’ve noticed –even though I knew these things were out there, that I knew were an issue, I hadn’t let myself dwell on any of it too much–I had other things on my mind that were far more important; things like getting my creative groove back, like finding my way through grief and healing, like figuring out what my new normal was/is.
I’m not a Pro at content creation, especially on Youtube, but I do know what I like when watching Youtube videos. I’m definitely not an Instagram guru–hell, some months I’m doing good if I post a few pictures, let alone one a day or even one a week. Nor am a I much of a Twitterer, or very good about Pinterest, but I’m starting to get a wee bit better at some things. However, the thing that has often held me back is that I rarely curate my photos, or my videos for that matter. The real question is why I haven’t gone the route of curating my photos, or making my videos, my YT channel, more curated.
Progress not Perfection
Do I have to curate? No. My desk is often messy when I’m in the middle of creating. And as much as I wish I kept things really clean and clutter free, often my supplies are scattered all over my craft table and desk. Even when I’ve taken a bit of time to curate a photo there is still usually at least a wee bit of mess. Instead of a jar of fresh, clean water, or a clutter free area, I’ve simply moved a few things around so that you can clearly see what I want seen, and the rest is… well it’s how I roll. I love what I do.
I love being creative. I love art, writing, journals, pens, watercolor, tomoe river paper, traveler’s notebooks, leather, markers, fountain pens, color… the list could go on, but the thing I love the most is any chance I have to be creative. I would love to be able to be creative with photos, to learn how to use Photoshop, to be able to create my own logo, to use said logo on my videos, my cover photo for YT, FB, etc… but the one thing I’m not real sure about, even when I do endeavor to learn how to use Photoshop, is to completely curate my photos. I want others out there, like me, to know that’s it’s okay not to be perfect. It’s okay to be messy when you create. It’s okay for your art not to be perfect. We’re human beings not robots, our creativity is priceless, perfect or not. The more we practice the better we get, but it’s the process of being creative that is important. It’s the journey not the destination (another cliche, I know).
So I’ll continue to post pictures that aren’t perfect. Videos that aren’t perfect. I’ll continue to create art that isn’t perfect. I’ll continue to be myself and to be true to myself. And hopefully, that will help someone else who has struggled to be creative. I’ll continue to share some of what I create even when many of my creations are no where near perfection. It’s truly not about perfection, it’s about the process, the progress–that’s what creativity and authenticity are to me.
I woke up the other morning with every intention of filming a plan with me video for Youtube. I made my coffee. Set everything up. My checklist of things to do before I filmed was done, but it felt like I was missing something. I went over my list and everything looked in order. However, I still felt like something was missing. So I thought maybe I’d film a journal with me instead. Nope. Still felt like something was missing only this time I got the sneaky suspicion that what was missing had nothing to do with my list, but was in fact an internal issue. (This has been going on, on and off, for the past few months.)
Your inner knowing is your only true compass. ~Joy Page
I took a mental inventory of what I needed to do and everything was in order with my “to-do” list. I then proceeded to do a bit of journaling, a brain dump so I could clear my mind. About halfway into clearing my mind via pen to paper I realized: 1. I was tired of the same old same old plan with me’s. 2. I didn’t want to do a plan with me to just do one. 3. Nor did I want to do a journal with me–I was behind with my journal pages in my “art” journal and it felt like the blank pages were mocking me. And, 4. I felt stuck in a rut with the type of videos I was doing–perhaps it’s because deep down inside I knew that I didn’t want to do a plan with me or a journal with me because of said rut.
I opened the fountain pen, I think I was using one of my TWSBI Eco’s, and put pen to paper again, this time to figure out why I was in a rut–what the rut was really about. Two pages into journaling about why I wasn’t journaling (sounds like a real conundrum doesn’t it, lol), or planning, and why I didn’t want to film a plan with me or a journal with me these sentences I’d just wrote stood out:
I feel like a hypocrite–this isn’t working. My planning system isn’t helping me get organized, and if I can’t get organized how am I supposed to stay organized? If I’m only planning so that I can create the video then it’s fake. If it’s fake then I’m not being authentic. If I’m not being authentic then I’m a hypocrite. And if I haven’t been documenting my day for the past few days then creating pages simply to film a video doesn’t feel like “documenting my life,” it feels like…well, it feels like I’m a big fake.
I stopped filming the plan with me’s for Youtube, and instead filmed some of the attempts to find my method of planning. I shared some of those on Patreon, where I felt like I could freely share that I was having some issues. However, I didn’t outright say, “Hey y’all, I feel like a big fake, a hypocrite.” But I did talk about some of my issues. I talked, and talked about them–probably to the point that I was just going in circles, but that’s how I felt and it felt like sharing about the rut I was in, the struggle I was having with my planning, especially, was cathartic. I’m sure my Patrons were really tired of hearing about it, but they have no idea of how much that helped me figure things out. 😀 I truly have a wonderful tribe of Patrons, YT subs, friends and followers.
“Something deep in the human soul awakens as things fall apart. Something in the soul knows that everything in this world can become lost. And something in the soul knows how to survive periods of devastation, disorientation and loss. Descent and falling is the way of the soul from its beginning. We each fell from the womb of life when the waters of the inner sea broke and it came time for us to breathe on our own.”
― Michael Meade, Why the World Doesn’t End: Tales of Renewal in Times of Loss
After quite a few “brain dumps,” I started creating pages in my “art” journal again. Documenting my day once again felt natural. I mixed things up. Flip flopped back and forth between journals, between illustrating my day, and documenting my day using ephemera, pictures, and a bit of art here and there. After a lot of flip flopping back and forth between the Hobonichi and my DIY hybrid Bullet Journal/Omni Journal, I started doing things differently–finding my own way. And that’s when things started to fall into place.
The more I followed my inner compass, my conscience and/or intuition, the more excited I was, the happier I was, and the more creative I felt. Did it all come together overnight? No. I have had to work at it. I’ve had to figure things out as I go. It’s trial and error. But over the past few years, but especially this past year, I’ve delved into my “Why’s,” as well as my “Why Not’s.” The more I know about my own self, the better I take care of myself, the happier I am, the more creative I am.
I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination. ~James Dean