Over the past few months I’ve spoken in depth about how creativity isn’t something you’re born with and how it takes practice, determination and purpose to build creative routines. In this flurry of advice I’m giving out I realised that you might be wondering why on earth you should be listening to me give it. If you are (or are just curious) I thought I’d tell you a little bit more about my story of how I became a creative blogger and how that has led me to have my strong opinions on individual creativity. Then you can make up your own mind whether you should.
The obvious place to start would be at the beginning. I could tell you all about how crafty and hands-on I was as a child. About being drawn towards art at school and getting my degree in textile design but that’s not the important part of this story (if you want to read more about that you can do here). To me, the most significant part of my journey came after that. It came when I was stuck in limbo. When I had no idea what I wanted to do and had little confidence in what I could do. It was when I worked part time jobs waitressing to make ends meet. At this point I never believed I would end up in a creative job. I knew my best chance was working for myself as I didn’t have the practical skills to design or courage to learn on the job. I’d always been told that I was talented and that this was what I was meant to be doing, but I couldn’t have felt any less creative at this point and I started looking for other options.
At this point I just want to run off on a tangent for a moment. Bare with me, but I’m a big hater of the word talent. It’s a tricky one because I’m often tempted to use it. What I want to say is “I’m a little bit in love with you because you are so damn good at what you do” but the more socially acceptable way of saying it is “Damn, you are talented!” right? So what’s my problem with the word? Well, I’ve never liked the idea that someone is naturally better than someone else. With the exception of those child geniuses you see on the news we all have the ability to learn – it’s just where we are encouraged and which opportunities we are given. Most creative adults will tell a story of always being creative. They loved to make as children and (quite rightly) were encouraged to do so. But just because you did or didn’t like to do something as a child doesn’t mean you have to, or cannot do it as an adult. I loved sport as a child. But now, all you need is me, a ball and a camera and you have the makings to go viral. As a child you have hours to entertain yourself each day. You have the time to get good at something you do a lot. It’s not talent, it’s practice.
And this is where I come back to my story. Whilst working behind bars and serving people food I wasn’t practicing being creative. I had little time, drive and to be completely honest with you I was scared to. This was my identity during my childhood and as I grew into an adult. What if that was all just a lie and I didn’t have what it took to compete? What if I disappointed everyone else and most importantly myself? So I just carried on, making ends meet and lacking in any purpose. The alternative was just way too intimidating.
Then I found blogging.
And everything clicked into place… haha! No, not really. But wouldn’t life be wonderful if it was that easy? It took much longer than that. I started reading blogs about 2009 which evidently is quite late in some people’s view, but perhaps early in others (That’s all relative and not really that important, but we need a timeline here) and I started my first blog “Teahab” soon after. But I had nothing to say. I didn’t know how to blog. I didn’t know how to take photos and I didn’t know what to write about. I can assure you it was not an overnight success! I wrote occasionally, but nothing original and nothing with any purpose or meaning. The big change came when I started working in an independent bead shop which gave me the resources I needed to be creative much more often. I can remember my interview well. I had clumsily fixed a jump ring onto a scrabble tile and wore it on a chain. Kate’s (the lovely shop owner) face said it all. I needed to learn and I did.
All of a sudden I had something to write about. My first tutorials were badly shot on my iPhone 3 and edited with an Instagram filter. I put them together in a grid app on my phone, wrote the how to guide (Back in those days I didn’t write an intro or even a quick hello. Straight down to business!) and published. My blog was an awfully designed blogger page and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but I was doing something. Five years later and I’m still doing it (that story is one for another day!) and I’ve learned so much in that time. By consistently learning new skills and practicing them in different ways I have a better understanding of my own creativity. I trust and believe in myself and I’m no longer scared of failure or the unknown.
Which is where we get to the big announcement I’ve been promising you all week! When I started blogging full time 6 months ago one of my goals was to create a place that would be constructive and promote creative thinking. Obviously I love DIY blogs and the absolutely amazing wealth of knowledge that bloggers are sharing online is fantastic! For me it’s my favourite part of blogging by far but perhaps that is a little selfish. Sometimes when I’m publishing one-off projects I don’t feel like I’m giving back creatively. I don’t feel like I’m encouraging creative freedom and inspiration for others to learn from. And as much as one-off tutorials can give many people the confidence to try out a skill, they can also sometimes stifle ideas and leave people feeling like this is the only way to complete a project.
So, here goes!
That’s why I’m starting a new online community called We Make Collective. It’s a place for learning new skills, being inspired by each other and sharing ideas. Instead of being intimidated by other creatives we can collaborate to encourage each other. We can champion new design and motivate our fellow makers to continue practicing even when they get off track.
But creating this space isn’t easy. I’m so lucky to have had support from so many other bloggers and creatives. Many of them will be helping to create the online inspiration and tutorials. I’ll be announcing all the contributors very soon and I just know you’re going to be excited when you hear who we have on board! But to make sure that we can pay all our contributors fairly and source the very best materials we need your support. You can read all about it over on the We Make Collective Website so I’ll let you do so when you have a moment! (You probably all need a tea break after this mammoth post…) Questions are so very welcome and if you have any ideas to make the collective even better I’m all ears. I can’t wait to hear what you think!
Before you go here’s just a quick note to end my story. Without all of you I might never have gained the confidence to make my life a more creative one. It’s because of your ongoing support, generosity of kindness and consistent encouragement that I am hear today. I am so thankful to each and every one of you for that. Whether we chat in the comments or if you read quickly in your lunch break, I so appreciative you sticking with me all this time. Now it’s time for me to repay the favour!