From the middle of March until about two weeks ago my anxiety and stress levels were crazy high thanks to COVID-19…the Pandemic—there’s nothing like a Pandemic to really make you question your life, your life goals, your creativity and your creative life, as well as your purpose. Not that I need a Pandemic to make me questions things, but when all of your squirrels are screaming “Pandemic” it’s hard to think much less focus on your creativity. SO while many of the people who were forced to stay at home were feeling immense creative urges, I wasn’t feeling off kilter—I work from home so it felt like it should have been no big deal.
Oh, but it was a BIG deal. There’s a difference between wanting to be home and being forced to be at home. Not to mention the fact that so many people were on the Web that it made uploading my videos take longer. It also overwhelmed YouTube, which was having issues—going Live on YT became problematic the end of March and the beginning of April. It’s not an issue anymore, but for a few weeks it was a major issue. I create videos for Patreon, but I’ve found that I really enjoy going Live on YouTube.
A few weeks ago, I finally got my shit together enough to get back on YouTube on a (mostly) consistent basis. Whew! It felt good to be back. I’d felt my creativity coming back slowly but surely thanks to being on Patreon and my Patrons, who are so supportive that they make me feel like I have something important to offer others—inspiration and motivation. There are a lot of great artist’s and writer’s out there. Numerous people who create videos about journaling and planning. Many of whom create absolutely wonderful videos about those topics. But the one thing you don’t see a whole lot of are pictures that aren’t curated, videos that aren’t majorly curated. I am not a “curated” kind of person.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with an aesthetically pleasing video and/or picture. I watch a lot of people who curate their videos on YouTube. I also follow a lot of people on Instagram who curate their images. I’m not saying that I don’t clean off part of my desk or craft table so that my videos look decent. Or that I don’t try to take a halfway decent photo when I do post to IG. But I prefer to capture the creative chaos that often ensues when I am creative, or to capture the outright mess on my desk, or the process—which is often times messy. Do I get watercolor all over me sometimes? I sure do. Do I sometimes get paint on my pretty white desk? Yes, and there have been times when I’ve had to get up from my desk and go to the kitchen to get the cleaner so I can clean my desk in the middle of a creative session. Gotta love when that happens.
Earlier today I went live on YouTube to show how to add “art” to your journal pages if you’re not someone who feels comfortable drawing, or you’re a beginner when it comes to drawing or doodling. I also tried out a new art supply—M. Graham Gouache, which is fantastic by the way. I love watercolor, but gouache is fun to experiment with (for now), and I’m hoping that the more I play with gouache the better I’ll get at it. It’s similar to watercolor but different.
Despite how much I’ve wanted to get back to blogging, I’ve been remiss. No, that’s the wrong word… I love blogging, but I guess I felt blocked, or maybe I’d been away from it for such a long while that it was easier to procrastinate than it was to just sit down and write a damn blog post. So I finally said “just do it.” So here I am, just doing it! Hope you’ve enjoyed it. Thank you, especially if you’ve made it this far.
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.
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.