In Good Company
There was a time when interacting with other creative people was much harder to do, but in the days of social networking and creative media, we can always find ways to meet other people to inspire us!
Creative production is usually a solo process, but that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone all the time. While nobody can do your project for you, other creative people can really boost your productivity.
Some creative types, particularly those new to the domain, can be afraid of interacting with more well-established creatives in case it leads to criticism of their work and feelings of inferiority. I propose a little meditation that can help you prepare for this, even if it doesn’t happen. After that, we’ll discuss the benefits of sharing and collaborating in today’s activity.
Nobody likes critique, but it exists for a reason. Most of us are socially aware enough to tell when someone is being a jerk and when someone is trying to help us, so remember to take face-to-face critiques with an awareness of the person’s tone and facial expressions. Even if they say something that touches a nerve, if they’re trying to say it with compassion, then you know it’s not intended to hurt you. Creative artists need a thick skin, because we all thrive on getting comments, reviews, and recommendations for our work. You have to be ready to accept that your work won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.
There are two parts to today’s activity. You might want to do them at different times.
The first is to show your work to someone else. How you do this is up to you, depending on how brave you’re feeling. You might display your painting in a local exhibition or simply take a photo of it and send it to a friend. If you’re a writer, going to a circle where you read your work aloud and receive critique could be an excellent thing to do. Beware, however, of putting your work up for others to read or see online. Many people do this because they enjoy the relative distance and anonymity of sending your work to a website, but you have to remember that people commenting on the work are enjoying that same protection too. If you’re not ready to face the trolls yet, stay face to face for this exercise first.
The second part is to work together with someone else on a project. It doesn’t mean you have to write a whole book with them or even a chapter, but bouncing ideas around with another person is a great way to get the brain juices flowing. It’s best to discuss something that’s brand new to both of you, and try to brainstorm or make notes on how you’d go about completing your idea.
Although creative art is a personal thing, we do need to put it out there to make a living from it. Starting small is fine if you’ve never shown your stuff around before, but if your mom is the only one who’s seen it after three years of work, you’re not going anywhere with it. Be brave. Take small steps toward big exposure. Enter official contests (with free entry, if you can), and join local, face-to-face groups where like-minded people can give you helpful advice. I’ve made most of my best friends this way because we have that creative spark in common, and it keeps us going forward together.
I’m going to discuss the internet again for a moment. As I said, it’s a scary place if you’re just starting out, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore it forever. The online market is bigger than anything else for exposure and information delivery, so starting out with a small Facebook page would be a step in the right direction. There are also some fantastic online communities for creative people if you can’t find one locally. Once again, be aware that not everyone online is your supportive friend, and give any new group some assessment time before you fully commit.
Tomorrow, we tackle another barrier to creative success: the temptation to give up. When things are not going well, I’ll teach you a handy principle adapted from cognitive therapy to get you back on the horse!
Time to saddle up!
My personal recommendation for a fantastic online community of writers would be KBoards. If writing’s your thing and you need great, supportive advice, look no further than the Writer’s Café!
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