We do not create in a vacuum.
We stand on the shoulders of those that have come before us.
We draw on inspiration and influences from a multitude of sources.
We rely on other creators to cheer us up when the going gets tough, and to help us learn and refine our work.
Where did the idea of a lone creator come from? The lonely sole working in the unheated garret?
It’s a very unhelpful and dangerous idea.
Of course, nourishing a healthy creative community isn’t always easy. We may have been hurt in the past by other creatives, live someplace remote, or we may be afraid to belong or receive help.
I know part of my recovery from creative burnout is letting myself belong to more communities and connect more with like-minded hearts.Maybe that’s true for you too?
Because without a creative community, it’s so much harder to come back from burnout.
Loneliness and why bother grow louder when we are the only ones who seem to care about making stuff.
So how to rejoice your creative community?
Start a collection of your influences, old and fresh. Make a bulletin board of images and quotes, a scrapbook or notebook, or a Pinterest board. Make it a creative practice to add to it by seeking out new influences.
Write a fan letter to someone you admire and take the time to briefly and specifically note how their work has affected yours. It will inspire you to own more deeply their influence on you and maybe motivate you to make something new.
Make a list of who you’ve inspired or helped with through your work. Take in the power you have as a creator. Pay that power forward by making and sharing something new.
Examine a work of art you admire looking for specific details – a color palette, sentence structure, a chord progression – and then ask how can that detail inspire me in my work today?
Go outside your medium – read a cookbook to get ideas for your collage, watch a movie for inspiration for your recipes, study community organizing for ideas for marketing your business.
Leave communities that drain you – I’ve overstayed in groups that I no longer wanted to be part of because I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Make room for freshness!
Rejoin communities that you’re still attracted to – drop any shame about what you should have done the last time. Go back with a clear intention about how much you will participate. Create boundaries before you rejoin and use conditions of enoughness (page 230 in Why Bother?) to be clear about what is enough for you. Many times we leave a good enough community because we were over-giving out of guilt or a lack of clarity about what we want and when we can rejoin with clarity, we can find the support we need!
Have an imaginary dialogue with a creative you admire – ask them questions and then let them answer using your non-dominant hand.
Reach out to a peer once a week for a chat – text or email if you’re shy, Marco Polo for a bit more contact, a 30-minute call.
Read and listen to interviews with creatives you have never heard of before and write down at least one thing you learned. (Season Two of Create out Loud starts this week so subscribe now!) Then send the person being interviewed a “thank you” email.
Most of all – stop trying to do it all alone especially if you are experiencing creative burnout. It makes the whole business of creating so much harder than it needs to be.
You deserve a creative community!