Throughout the seven plus years that I've pursued various creative expressions, I have found myself in deep places of insecurity (and still find myself there sometimes). I've wrestled through what it means to be confident, how to resist comparison, and how to be true to what I'm passionate about. I want you to avoid these pitfalls that swallow up confident creativity!
Stay in your own lane.
Our world is full of people doing what you want to do, whether that be photography, writing, painting, jewelry making, or baking! Yes, stay inspired, but be picky about who you follow and where you draw inspiration. Too much "inspiration" can lead to life-sucking comparison and get you way off course. Stay true to you!
Say no often.
Saying no to something you don't love is actually saying YES to something you do love! For a long time, I viewed saying no as only negative and it came with a lot of guilt. I've gotten a lot better at saying no to creative pursuits that don't spark joy for me and I'm in a much better place creatively! Don't believe the lie that you can do it all.
Draw inspiration from all creative fields.
When setting up who you follow on Instagram or how you search on Pinterest, be sure to draw inspiration from a variety of accounts and fields. All areas of creativity are interconnected. Just because you're an interior designer doesn't mean you only look at inspiration photos of other people's spaces. You should be looking at a photographer's nature shot or an artist's watercolor painting or a weaver's wall tapestry. Creativity begets creativity.
Compare yourself to yourself, not to others.
Oh did I struggle with this for a long time (and still do)! The only growth you need to worry about is YOUR growth! When I feel discouraged or find myself comparing my own progress with someone else's, I look back at how far I have come since this time last year, or this time five years ago. That is the most encouraging (and only good) type of comparison!
Don't pursue something because you feel like you have to.
Never ever start a creative pursuit out of guilt!!! Start from a place of wonder and joy and see where it takes you, but never do something because it feels like you must.
Set up a creative structure.
I might be in the minority on this one because I'm not the free spirit type (who are very successful creating on a whim). My personality actually needs structure to be creative. I set up times to be creative instead of letting it just come to me. I keep my notes app on my phone handy for when ideas come and then set aside work hours for getting those ideas down and into action. Maybe you're not like me - but if you are, don't be afraid of structured creativity!
Routinely check in on yourself.
Check in on your process - how can it improve? Check in your progress - what I have accomplished this month? Check in on your growth - how have I changed as a person this year? Check in on how your life's balance - am I pursuing what's most important to me? Ask questions often and even get a family member to help you answer them!
Don't view others' successes as a threat.
THIS. This was a big one for me. I used to view every other woman's creative success as a threat to my own - and funny enough - even if she wasn't in the same industry as me! I felt behind, less than, and not as successful. But some other woman's success shouldn't threaten you. You are you and no one else can do what you do!
Truly celebrate the successes of others.
This follows naturally on the heels of my last point. Instead of moaning and groaning and getting down in the dumps about the successes of another woman, look for ways to congratulate her and encourage her! Trust me - it will do a LOAD of good for your own heart.
Hone in on your strengths instead of trying to fix all your weaknesses.
I was first introduced to this concept through Don Clifton's Strengths Finder book. He emphasizes honing in on and developing your innate strengths instead of trying to fix everything you're "bad" at. I have found this concept very freeing in many areas of life. As a Christian, I believe Jesus is in the business of freeing us from sin and meeting us in our weaknesses so we can better glorify Him. But when it comes to the creative world, don't try to be good at everything. Focus on what you're naturally good at (and outsource what you're not good at) and go for it!
Find a friend and/or mentor who is in the same stage of her creative pursuit.
I have a good friend who is in practically the same stage of her photography business as me. She has been a LIFE SAVER. No joke. I wouldn't have kept going without her! Camaraderie at its best!
Find a friend and/or mentor who is ahead of you in her creative pursuit.
I have had the privilege of learning from a business coach who is far ahead of me in the creative world. It has opened my eyes in many ways. She has helped me with goal setting, mindset shifting, and has adjusted my perspective on many topics. She is a huge source of encouragement and helps me dream big. Finding someone like this is GOLD.
Listen to creative business podcasts.
I have been an avid podcast listener for several years. Listening to creative business podcasts every week has been SUCH a good education for me! If you're not already into podcasts - you are missing so much! Here are a few favorites - Goal Digger, Creative Empire Podcast, Pursuit with Purpose, and Being Boss.
If you live with other people, communicate your need for creative space.
My husband is super supportive of my creative pursuits and is careful to make space for me to pursue them. But I have to make my needs known on a regular basis and keep him up to date with what I'm working on. I thrive when I can go out alone a few evenings a month to journal ideas at a coffee shop. I sometimes need toddler-free office time on a weekend to really knock out a project. He supports everything I do, but I do have to communicate!
Do it scared.
Much of what I do scares me. Photographing my first wedding scared me. Writing raw, personal posts on my blog scares me. Saying yes to something I've never done before scares me. But I've learned that growth never happens unless you're willing to allow fear to catapult you into bigger and better things. So go out and do it!
Don't ever believe there isn't enough room for you.
It's easy to believe that the market is saturated with too many writers, too many photographers, too many artists, too many people pursuing the passions I want to pursue. It can be a discouraging and deflating mindset to get trapped in. But there is always room for you! You bring something different to the table than every other person in the entire world. Your worldview, your training, your experiences, your gifting, your perspective - it's all unique! Go show it to the world!
Christy Wright's "Five E Questions" are a great place to start if you're wondering where to begin in your creative endeavor!
1. What do you enjoy?
2. What comes effortlessly to you?
3. Where do you excel?
4. What do others encourage in you?
5. What gives you energy?