I’ve needed a creative kick for a while now, for a few reasons.
Part the first: Several professional setbacks in the last 2, 3…okay fine 5 years have really rattled my confidence, and put my creation urges into hibernation because I feared rejection and repeat failure. That “failure”, in my mind, was evidence that I had no business doing this creation thing in the first place. So I listened, and I shut up.
Part the second: I no longer feel part of the “tribe” of online digital marketing folks that I once belonged to, and that feeling of not belonging anywhere – or worse yet, being washed up and useless, everything the haters had always said – also had me rattled. Not belonging is a really uncomfortable feeling, and made me feel as though there was no Place for my Stuff.
But it’s time for me to take charge of the space I’m standing in instead of constantly chasing validation, trying to re-catch up with the crowd I’m not really part of anymore, and defining myself by other people’s standards.
I’m done running from myself.
Enter: a reset button. No, really.
I was reading Jon Acuff’s book Finish this week. And it really hit a nerve.
For the years since my business’ implosion and the financial ruin in its wake, I’ve been chronically starting things and never, ever finishing them. I’ve “rebooted” my writing a dozen times, tried over and over again to re-integrate into the world I’d left. I’ve even told you all here how I was starting over again. And over. And over.
The started (and unfinished) books. The started (and unfinished) creative projects with my hand lettering interests. The countless started and unpublished posts in my drafts folder. There’s more. I have a collection of partial things.
But they were all rooted in the biggest false start of all: my fear of definitively letting go of who I was, stopping the lamentations and the what-ifs and the but-onlys and finally and decisively moving forward knowing that it meant never going back.
So, I took some definitive action. It’s not drastic by a lot of standards. But Jon’s book taught me that I was setting my goals too big, overwhelming, and all-encompassing so that I could always create more obstacles rather than just doing the little things that would actually get me moving in a new direction.
Here’s what I’m doing.
Out with the old. Pause button on the…unsure.
Step 1: A social media break. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are on indefinite pause. They’ve been causing me more angst than good, and they’re an elegant distraction from the things I care about actually doing and cheap validation when I’m feeling unmoored. Exception is LinkedIn (where I work) because, well, work. And because that community is energizing to me, rather than draining. I’ll probably keep using it as a publishing outpost or for shorter thought bursts that aren’t post material.
Step 2: When I feel an urge to browse and mindlessly scroll a social network – an urge that shows up far too often – I pick up my Kindle and read. I have such a backlog of books it’s not even funny. I’ve already plowed through two in just shy of a week. They can be fiction or non, doesn’t matter. I’m inspired to create by what I consume. I know that pattern. So I’m going to use that to my advantage.
Step 3: When I’m feeling the itch to post stuff to social media, I write words instead. They can be blog posts here or words for the book in progress or in a journal or scribbled on a napkin and thrown away. They can be published, or they can be saved for later, or just for me. If writing doesn’t seem like the right outlet, I’ll check in on whether I need a creative itch scratched through other things I enjoy, like hand lettering or cross stitch.
Step 4: Clear the decks. It’s unclear whether I’ll get back to those social networks, but when and if I do, the old professional guard is going to be gone from my field of view. I’m tired of feeling like I’m chasing ghosts, and I don’t need to follow the people anymore that left me behind a long time ago (and against whom I’ve created stupid, unrealistic measuring sticks of my own self-worth and accomplishment). It’s okay to wish them well, let them go do their thing, and I can free myself to go do mine.
That’s how long I’m starting with. We’ll see where it takes me.
It’s not especially drastic, and it’s not some rage-quit thing. It’s truly an intentional move to put my words in places where I can show them the value I think they have, and further the goals I have for myself.
It’s also following through on my commitment to myself, a commitment to let GO of the past, learn to walk alone for awhile, and trust that my tribe will find me.
I don’t know what this site will become, really. It’ll for sure be a writing destination, but not sure what that looks like yet. Whether I’ll keep marketing at the center of it, or chuck any idea of What It Needs To Be and let it just…be. I think the answer will find me during this adventure somehow.
Anyway, might mean an uptick in writing here. Might not. Don’t know. If you’re game to find out, you can subscribe if you aren’t (over there on the right) or stay if you are. If you’re not on board, it’s totally cool to bail. No hard feelings whatsoever.
This site is for me, now, and not for “list building” or “content marketing” anymore. I’m hiding SEO plugins and all that jazz. I don’t care. I may be a rudderless ship for the moment, but I still need a port to call home that isn’t about those old ideals of performing like some dancing marketing bear.
I missed typing words. I wonder what else might surface. But I finally feel like I’m starting to unhook a few chains and set down some stuff. Only took a minute. Or thousands.
See you soon.