Everything you think you are–writer, singer, artist, painter, musician–gets eliminated when you start comparing yourself to other people. Do you know or follow someone who is better than you are at what you do? Good! Talk to them. Reach out. Ask them how they got to where they are now. Pick their brain and learn from them. ( I just did this yesterday with a coach I love). THAT’S the way to interact with people you admire. Not jealousy and envy. Those two emotions will only leave you feeling like crap.
How often do you create just for yourself? I know I don’t do it often enough. Usually when I have time to sit and create, I think about who I am creating for. It could be for a specific person like a card, or for a group of people like something free to give away on my blog.
Rarely do I sit down and think, “I’m going to write out that weird short story I’ve been thinking about, just to see how it turns out.” When I write it’s usually FOR something. To sell a novel, or a workbook for creatives, or anything else that’s specifically for someone else.
If we’re always sitting down with a plan in mind, we’re not leaving ourselves open to explore new ideas and curiosities. Maybe that weird short story I want to explore will turn into something bigger…something I can publish. But for now, wouldn’t it be fun to just write it without a plan in mind? (Yes, Rebel, yes it would.)
A simple way to remind yourself to create for just you is to schedule it in. I have a daily planner that I use for little tasks. I spend a lot of time sitting at my computer working and writing. If I don’t write down the ideas that pop into my head as they come, they’ll be gone. Writing in something like, “work on my short story” is trigger enough to get me to sit, even for five minutes, and write just for myself.
The photo above is something I made a few years ago. I suddenly got into drawing cirlces on a canvas, then coloring them in with Sharpies. I spent night after night working on these canvases just for me. Then, because I’m me, I started thinking of ways to give them away. I ended up making a dozen black and white ones for kids in the cancer ward at our local hospital. I thought they could color them while having chemo. I contacted the hospital and brought them in.
I’m really glad I did that, but after I was done, I’d lost my mojo for creating them for myself. This is the only one I made for me that I kept, and whenever I look at it hanging in our bathroom, it reminds me of being in my own little world for those few days, listening to music, drawing, and coloring.
Do you create just for yourself? If not, why not start?
One, if you don’t jump at the chance to make something when the idea comes to you, it’ll move on to someone who will. I believe when we get ideas, it’s Inpiration tapping us on the shoulder. It’s saying, “What do you think of this? Should we try it?” If you ignore it or say no, it’ll move on. If you jump at it and say yes, you’ve got yourself a new project.
The second thing is, it’s important that you know no ideas are original, but they haven’t been done yet by you. If you get an idea and think, “Ah, it’s been done before,” think again. It hasn’t been done by YOU.
You and I could be given the assignment to write a short story about a boy who falls in a well and his dog helps rescue him. We’d think, “Well, that’s like Lassie, right?” (I’m actually too young for Lassie, but I’ve heard that’s how the stories went). My point is each of us won’t write the same story as the other. Yours might be a story about the love and loyalty between a dog and his boy master. Mine could be about an evil boy who tried to hurt his dog and ended up getting hurt himself, with the dog saving him. We both had the same rules for the story, but we wrote two totally different things.
When Inspiration sneaks up on you and suggests you two have some fun together, it’s okay to say no. But don’t say no out of fear of originality. And don’t be upset when you see that same idea come to fruition down the road through somebody else.