A couple of months ago my lovely pal Emma (Life At The Little Wood) asked if I would speak at the Blog Retreat she was hosting for all of us bloggy/grammy types here in Northern Ireland. It was pitched as a pretty small affair to begin with so I, of course, said I would. Then everyone wanted to come and it turned into a 140 people full on event at the incredibly beautiful Larchfield Estate! That's what happens when someone like Emma starts a ball rollin. She brings in the fold.
Public speaking is something I do a lot of in my work with Freedom Acts. Usually not a week goes by where I'm not speaking in front of a small or a big crowd of people about trafficking and exploitation. I still get nervous about it, but it's definitely something I'm well versed in now. But to talk about blogging and creativity - sheesh. That felt different. A little less factual, a little more personal. To be honest, my September leading up to the blog event had been an absolute stress-fest. I had been launching a big campaign for Freedom Acts, re-writing our entire website, writing scripts for 6 promo videos and putting together a brand new resource for our 5 year celebration event. I was also delivering my Eco Family Living course to a full intake of amazing people online which was making me so happy but so tired! That's why it might have gone a bit quiet round these parts lately.
I am the Queen of taking too much on. Except without the crown of a Queen or the minions to delegate to and run after me. I kind of thrive on achievement and getting stuff done but I learned some hard lessons in September about pacing myself and being wise.
Emma had asked me to speak about developing creativity and when I sat down to write what I wanted to say, I felt like I couldn't talk about creativity without talking about courage - so that's what I did. I brought along a little book I wrote when I was eight years old that I had recently found at my parents house. Finding it reminded me how creativity as a child is so innate, so free. I showed the room my book; in all its eight year old Mel glory with wild pictures and storylines and carefree imagination. I wanted to remind the room of the courage it takes to be creative as an adult and I shared three things that I thought would help to bring that child-like courage out of us again. I'm sharing it here again as a reminder to myself and to you.
I want to use this space to give you permission to reconnect with your creativity - to acknowledge and own your own creative voice. Maybe you don’t think you have one. Maybe you feel like a fraud when it comes to creativity. Maybe you have creativity bubbling up inside you but you don’t know where to start. Maybe you feel overwhelmed with the idea of putting your ideas and thoughts and creativity out there because you don’t feel like you’re bloggy enough. Or important enough. Or good enough.
Those are super normal feelings to have but they are also mindsets that block our creativity and end up making us feel paralysed and so we do nothing, consume other peoples creativity and push ours further down. Here are three ways we can tackle these mindset blocks and hopefully feel more free, more able to unleash our creativity with authority and clarity.
FIND YOUR NICHE
What is it that you really love to write or do or share about? Not what you think you should write about because that’s what a style blogger or a parenting blogger or a lifestyle blogger writes about – what do you love? The most authentic writing or making comes from a place of passion about what you are writing or doing. One of the mantras I have for myself when it comes to writing is ‘write the blog you would want to read’.
I’ve written many blog posts where my heart just wasn’t in it but I did it because I felt like I needed to write something, or because I didn’t want people to forget about my blog. It has taken me a long time to figure out this formula of a niche for me, and it has changed a lot over time but once I did – it really helped me to align my blog and all my other creative endeavours well. My niche centres around ethical living, motherhood and creativity. Those are my 3 focus points – pretty much everything I write or do connects to those things. Because of this, people know what they are getting when they come to read my blog, when they buy one of my online courses/resources or come to one of my events. As you work this out, slowly you begin to find your audience, your support network, your people. These focuses can change over time, sure – we are allowed to evolve in our interests and write or do things in the margins of our lives and you don’t even need to declare your niche to the world but to unlock your creativity, it might help to write down 3 or 4 topics, areas or focuses that you want to connect to and let your creativity flow from there. Sometimes boundaries can be seen as a bad thing, but in a world where possibilities or paths are endless, often having a way marked out that really fits your passions can help you navigate the work that you want to do well.
TAKE UP YOUR SPACE
In my last blog post I talked about ‘Taking Up Your Space’ and I want to reiterate that again. If you feel like it’s all been said, that there is no room for your voice, that the creative market is saturated – that’s very normal. But I want to tell you that it’s not true.
Just because 100 other bloggers have written about the toddler years, this seasons make up trends, recipes for busy parents, the journey of grief or the best box sets of all time does not mean the table is full. There is always room for more, and more importantly – for YOUR voice. No one else will talk about these things in the candour and point of view that you have and the likelihood is that someone will connect with how you see things. Your voice is important. I'll use my favourite Brene Brown quote on unused creativity again:
“Unused creativity is not benign. It metastasizes. It turns into grief, rage, judgement, sorrow, shame.”
Brene says “There’s no such thing as creative people, and non-creative people. There are only people who use their creativity and people who don’t. Unused creativity doesn’t just disappear. It lives within us until it’s expressed, neglected to death, or suffocated by resentment and fear.”
Use your creativity before it eats you up – take up your space.
COMMUNITY OVER COMPARISON
This leads me on to my last point; the most crippling to our creativity. Comparison. Sure – it’s the thief of joy – but it’s also the thief of creativity. When we spend our lives looking around at who is doing it better, getting more opportunities or writing and doing things we wish we had written or done we are putting up walls to our creativity. We are blocking it into a tiny space.
Stay your track, do your best work, support the community you want to be a part of and be inspired. More than that – make friends with the people who inspire you – not to copy what they do, but to be inspired, to learn from them and to grow. Get to know them – be their champion – turn that comparison into community. Nobody’s creativity blooms well when they are busy looking around in jealousy, judgement or regret. In fact, it shrivels.
And lastly, I want you to think of your creativity as a muscle you need to courageously flex and we do that by keeping going and putting our brave selves into the world. By honing in on our niche, by taking up our space and by being inspired to build community with each other we can flourish and find that creative freedom.