The Secret to Being Found

creative, found, artist, audience, share, work, content

creative, found, artist, audience, share, work, contentNo matter what sort of creative work you do, you want to be found.  You want someone to read your book, buy your art, listen to your music.  You know someone will benefit from it and appreciate it.

But how do you get your work in the hands of the right people?

How will they know that you exist?

Self-promotion is the pits.  If you’re like me, wandering around with your work, singing, Lookie what I can do! just doesn’t come naturally.  Let’s face it, the people who do that really annoy us.  However, you can’t be found if you’re not findable. <—- Real word.  I’m ignoring the red squiggly line.

I’ve got two tips on being found.

#1. Hang out where the people are.

Simple, right?

Except we’ve just run smack into the introverted paradox.  We like solitude.  Exposure to people means expenditure of energies.  Energies we use for our creative work.  Work we want to share with people.  But exposure to people means expenditure of energies.  Aaaagh!!

The thing is, we introverts really do like people.  Actually, we like them a lot.  Maybe even obsessed with them.  Maybe I’m speaking for myself.

People fascinate me.  I want every individual to enjoy clarity of purpose, simple beauty, social responsibility.  That’s why I write.  If I was only concerned with myself, I would only read and gather all the knowledge for myself.

So how does an introvert find people?  People hang out by the thousands.  We flock together with like-minded people.  We can’t help ourselves.  We’re simply drawn to others we with whom we relate.

Find a local club of musicians, join a writer’s guild, contribute to a forum or group, comment on some websites.  The internet makes it easy to contribute without the face to face fumbling.   Make your presence known by being helpful.  You don’t have to lead a discussion, just add to it.

Which brings me to #2.

#2. Give yourself away.

It seems counter intuitive on a couple of levels but it works.

Making money isn’t the reason why creatives do what they do, but it’s a nice side benefit.   If someone is willing to pay for our work, we know they appreciate it.  However, people aren’t likely to give their money to someone they don’t know anything about.  Giving away some free content is like introducing yourself to a stranger.  Not your best work, obviously, but something small.  Like an hors d’oeuvre.  To whet the appetite.

Giving your work away is a nice treat, but it’s not as effective as giving yourself away.  When someone feels like they really know you, they will buy your work because it feels like they get to keep a piece of you.

You do it, too.  You collect your favorite author’s books.  You buy albums and artwork from the artists you relate to.  These people aren’t available to have coffee with you in person.  But you can have your coffee and enjoy their work.  It’s close enough.

Giving yourself away has less to do with your finished work, and more to do with the process.  People want to feel like they are involved in the process.  It makes the relationship more intimate and they feel attached to you and your work.

Share your doodles.  The lines to a song you came up with at breakfast.  The outline to a new book you want to write.  If your pain or frustrations produce art, share it.  People will feel like they were with you from the beginning.  They become emotionally involved with your creativity, and will become your biggest supporters.  If you fail, they will feel it.  If you succeed, they succeed with you.  They want you to succeed.


 

I know this is tough for you creative introverts to wrap your minds around.  I’m still working on it too.  But do these things and someone will find you.

  1. Find people who are like-minded.
  2. Contribute to the conversation somewhere so people will know you exist.
  3. Give some free content.
  4. Share some intimate pieces of yourself.
  5. NO PERFECTION ALLOWED!  They want the real you.

The best part is, people are sharers.  One person will tell 10 more people about something they’ve found that they really like.  Eventually, you’ll be deciding what to keep for yourself instead of what to share.

 

Who are some of your favorite authors or artists that you feel connected to because they shared the process with you?  What are some things they shared?  Comment here. 

 

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Feeling Stuck In the Messy Middle

creative, stuck, writers block,

creative, stuck, writers block, There comes a time in every creatives work when the excitement of something new starts to wear off and the chill of reality starts to sink in.  It feels awful.  And, unfortunately, this is where most people give up on their dreams.

When you first started on your project, your book, your canvas, your craft, you could see all the possibilities laid out before you.  All you had to do was take that first step.  Just try it.  Jump in with both feet.  Put your shoulder to the wheel.  Commit to the process.  And the prize was yours for the taking.

At first, you had to reign yourself in.  Stay focused on one thing.  There was so much that could be done and needed to be done.  You had to make sure you did the big things first because that’s what really mattered.  And you really believed that if you worked at it long enough, the major breakthrough would be at your fingertips.

Several months into it, you realize that it’s work.  Plain and simple.  Work.

You’ve seen other people do it.  You know it takes time to become successful at anything.  And you knew it would be work from the beginning.

But you didn’t count on your creativity abandoning you in the middle of your creative adventure.

That’s why it’s called the messy middle.  It’s the part where your heart leaves and you just keep trudging along with your legs.  You don’t have clear direction and it’s not as exciting as it was in the beginning.  Yet you can still see the prize.  It’s just the journey there suddenly looks longer.

This, my friend, is called reality.  The truth that is the truth no matter how positive your perspective is.

I’m stuck in reality.  I have all kinds of thoughts that just won’t materialize into more than a sentence or two.  It’s been days since I’ve written anything.  I’m starting to question my ability, my purpose, my possibilities.

But one thing keeps me going.  Creative angst.  The continual agitation of creative juices that collide in my head like bumper cars seeking a way out.  Sure, I’d like to make a difference in someone’s life.  And some day I will.  At the moment, I’m making a difference in my own life.  I’m allowing this space I’ve created to be my outlet.  My creative dumping grounds.  Every creative needs a space like that.


move on,Maybe you’re also trudging through the messy middle.  It’s frustrating and boring and lonely.  But it’s normal.  Hear me?  NORMAL.

We creatives shun the word normal.  I do.  We are all about creating a new normal.  Or at least a normal that’s normal for us because everyone else’s normal is a joke.  Well, listen.  While you’re creating your new normal, make allowance for the messy middle.

Remember this, the messy middle is reserved for creative people.  Because people who aren’t creative don’t have creative angst and don’t get worked up by being overtaken with the mundane.  That’s where non-creatives live and they like it.  Creative geniuses, like us, become stifled and shrivel under floods of mundane.  Our creativity is what keeps us afloat in this world.  It’s the only way we can make sense of it all.  It is the air we breathe.

So here’s my best advice for getting through the messy middle.

1. Keep showing up.

2. Give it an honest effort.

3. Look for inspiration.  It’ll come.

4. Don’t give up.

5. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself.

6. Spend some time with people.  (Nothing inspires an introvert like the human condition.)

7. Have a side project.  (I create book art and blackout poetry when I can’t write.)

8. Tell yourself that the messy middle is normal.  For you.  Because you’re a creative genius.

Are you in the messy middle?  Have you seen what’s on the other side yet?  What’s your best advice for getting through it?  I need some help here!  Leave your comment here.

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My Creativity is Afraid of My Friends

fear, creativity, dream, share, friends

fear, creativity, dream, share, friendsSometimes I think I’m cursed with talent.  Maybe it’s a blessing.  But it often produces as much frustration as it does joy.  It’s this creative part built into me that I love at times.  But a lot of the time I’m afraid of it.

I’m a creative.  I have dozens of ideas running through my head at any given time.  It’s a driving force that I can’t seem to escape.  Often, I have to do something to get those ideas out or it drives me crazy.  If it’s crafting, decorating, designing, or writing, it’s a creative outlet.  It makes me feel normal again to be able to make something interesting or beautiful with the things that are swirling around in my mind.  And when I’ve created something and completed it, I want to share it.  But then a new frustration crops up.  Fear.

Fear kills more creativity than failure.

I’m finally admitting out loud that I’m afraid of my friends.  I’m afraid they won’t understand why I create.  That they’ll be critical or question the merit of it.  Maybe they won’t care.  Which might even be worse.  Does it really matter?  I can’t decide.

The things I create are part of me.  They are birthed from my mind and delivered through my hands.  Time, energy and a huge amount of myself is invested in the things I create.  I love them.  And I want to protect them and guard them against criticism.  Yet I want to share them because they mean so much to me.

It may or may not matter what someone else’s opinion is, but you are more vulnerable to the voices of the people you love. The people closest to us are the one’s that we often fear the most because they have the most influence in our lives.  Their opinions have more meaning than that of strangers.

Is this a rational fear?  Good question.  I’m still struggling with it.  My head says that it’s not.  That no one’s opinion should be a deterrent from reaching for a dream.  That my friends are great and will be supportive.

Fear says to keep the things that are precious to me inside, hidden and safe.  It’s not worth the pain.

But my heart says that I’ll never be truly fulfilled until I can share what I love with the world. That I can’t help people if I never share what I have.

Is my calling bigger than my fear?  Do I have what it takes to overstep the boundaries of fear?  These walls can’t hold me back forever.

If you believe strongly in your purpose to create, don’t let fear stand in the way.  There is a community of creatives that are walking the same road.  There are probably several in your own personal circle that you may not even be aware of.

Reach out to people who share some of the same interests.  If you’re a writer, seek out writers.  If you’re a sculptor, seek out other sculptors.  You can create a forum for people to share their interests in an online community or a local mastermind group.

Don’t hold back what you have.  You might be the inspiration that someone else needs.

The greatest thing to fear is fear itself.

Do you wrestle with fear like I do?  Are you keeping something safely hidden because it’s vulnerable to criticism?  How did you get through it or are you still struggling like me?  You can share your comments here.

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Start Something New

foreclosure, Dave Ramsey, finance

Financial Peace University, Dave Ramsey, FPU

I’ve found that new beginnings don’t always start with a new concept or situation.  Sometimes it has more to do with refining what we already know.  Starting over.  Getting a do-over.  Wiping the slate clean.  Or sometimes just taking what we know to a new level.  I feel like this year will be more of the latter.

A few weeks ago our Pastor spoke to my husband about our willingness to present a Financial Freedom class at our church.  We have had a lot of experience with Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course.  We’ve taught it to individuals in our home and led a class a few years ago at church.  We accepted the responsibility to present the material.  We aren’t financial gurus, we’re just people who failed at this money thing and learned something in the process.

Our Financial Story

foreclose, foreclosure, foreclosed, house, home

Nearly five years ago, our family went through a financial crisis.  My husband lost his job in a down-turned economy shortly after buying a house.  His masters degree in information technologies made no difference.  He was forced to work at McDonald’s for nearly 10 months.  At minimum wage, we were no longer able to make our mortgage payments.  By the time my husband got another job that would cover the bills, the house was too far behind.  We were ignorant of how to handle such situations and ended up going through a foreclosure.

The foreclosure was handled by an unscrupulous attorney’s office who was not forthcoming with information.  The sheriff served us with papers saying that we had 48 hours to vacate the premises one day before we received a letter from the attorney’s office stating the foreclosure was complete.  It was a scary time.

Dave Ramsey, FPU, Priceless, Financial PeaceThankfully, in the time that my husband was working at McDonald’s, I came across a book of Dave Ramsey’s called Priceless at Goodwill.  I recognized the name but really didn’t know anything about him.  When I flipped though it, I noticed that there were scriptures included and that Dave was interested in handling money God’s way.  I bought the book for 99 cents.  It revolutionized my way of thinking.

It wasn’t long before my husband jumped on board with the new ideas and we started implementing Dave’s and the Bible’s teachings on money.   When we were forced to move, we had money set aside that made the transition much easier.  We also had the knowledge to not make the same mistakes twice.

Since that time, we have been eager to share our story and the information that we’ve found with others that are in similar situations.  There are a lot of people who are hurting financially just because they don’t have the knowledge to handle it better. It is our privilege and our way of giving back to present the information that we have learned to others. Our first class was Tuesday.

I don’t have it all figured out.  And it sure is easy to slip back into old habits.  That’s why teaching these financial classes are so good for us.  It causes us to readjust and get motivated again.  So this year, I’m grab onto what I already know and take it to a new level.

What is it that you want to improve in your life this year?

 

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