I am a creative, but it took me a long time to realize and embrace this part of myself. When I was a little girl, I was constantly writing short stories and drawing. I loved it. Then fear kicked in and I stopped showing off my work. Fear has crippled me on and off for years. I would start painting, have a stack of finished or half finished work, that and decide to throw it away rather than display or show them off. I would start a blog, then stop after a month. I’ve been “working on” a book for the last nine years. I was terrified to have any of my work judged (heck if you go on The Confused Millennial’s Instagram page (formerly my personal page) you will barely see a single selfie out of fear of judgement!). Even in keeping up with this blog in it’s infancy, I am scared I will get writer’s block again and quit.
I think it’s normal to struggle with identifying as a creative when these spurts have happened so frequently (and infrequently) in my life.
I want to take a look at some of the best (and simultaneously worst) advice I have received (primarily for blogging and starting a business, but it holds true in most other areas of life as well):
Create a schedule and stick to it. This is some of the most common advice in life. Whether you are trying to start a business, job searching, or working out. In the blogging world, I often hear: “if you reader’s expect a new post every Monday, you better have one!” This advice actually stopped me from getting serious with blogging for years! It seemed like way too much pressure to commit to posting on certain days of the week forever. I was even more scared to commit to writing a “good” (read: perfect) post each week. I was so scared if there was a typo, or uninteresting topic, readers would never come back and that would be the end… This perfection paralysis ultimately led to insane writers block. It’s been over 2 years since my last attempt at starting a blog, and I think what has been so freeing with this blog, is that I am trying to embrace the typos (read the homepage disclaimer) and sub-par grammar at times. Sometimes I am so passionate about some of my posts, I barely get through an editing once-over before hitting “publish”… and that’s okay! I do agree with creating a schedule and sticking to it, but not every post needs to be pristine, today I challenge myself to get the post up, and if I need to edit it after, I do.
Know your audience. This is great advice whether you are launching a business or finding a career, but it can again, lead to perfection paralysis. I think part of the reason I’ve been attracted to working with millennials is that I understand the struggle, because it’s just as real for me, as it is for you. Sure, I know how to brand myself as an expert, but inside I don’t really feel any different than you… just figuring it out as I go trying to tame all my interests and passions. I think it’s important when starting a blog, or figuring out who your audience is, to know yourself above all else; otherwise you will get swallowed by the noise out there. When blogging, write to yourself. Would you be interested in the content you are putting out there? When job searching, look at your resume or interview responses and ask yourself “Would you be interested in the skill set you’re boasting to an employer?” Usually we have a lot in common with our target audience, it’s why we are drawn to them.
Be true to your voice. Again, great advice, but how the heck do I find this voice you speak of? We seem to need this voice in our careers, it’s often linked by to our “uniqueness” and our “creativity” (aka what makes us desirable to hire or work with). As someone who has been writing on and off since I was six years old, this is tough to find. I have tried copying and modeling myself after people I’ve looked up to, and always felt like part of me was missing from the work. Recently, I’ve had a few conversations with people who are struggling with finding their voice… I think the funny thing in adulting, is unlearning all the BS we learned in school and from society. My voice, is how I talk with my friends… it’s grammatically incorrect at times, I make up words, and I curse like a sailor… and that’s okay. Obviously there is a place and a time for different aspects of your voice, but too often people speak of this elusive voice without really helping anyone get to it, so let me re-write this even clearer for you:
you’re voice is how you talk with your closest friends.
That’s it. Think about it… that’s usually when you are your most creative and unique self. This is when your guard is down and you’re more comfortable and authentic. Don’t try to be more polished or more crude than you actually are. Do try to make your thoughts coherent and logical (if you’re prone to rants like me 😉). Don’t worry about appealing to that “ideal audience” if it’s not true to your voice, because even if you have that audience eating out of the palm of your hand, you will (probably) be miserable.
What advice has been great, but has you frozen with perfection paralysis? I would love for you to comment below or send me an e-mail!