Instagram numbers affecting your creative enthusiasm? This mindset will help.

Instagram numbers affecting your creative enthusiasm? This mindset will help.

Instagram numbers affecting your creative enthusiasm? This mindset will help.

Creative Challenges

Instagram numbers crushing your creative vibe? Here’s how to change that.

I stumbled upon a mindset that helped me detach my creative motivation from those pesky Instagram numbers – the follower growth on IG that plagues any digital endeavour. Since this is a challenge that many artists who begin sharing their work publicly deal with, I wanted to share this analogy with you in hopes that it may shift you into an ‘appreciation of’ mindset over a ‘validated because’ mindset.

 

 

“While you’re still building your art house it seems like the rain matters more because you feel like it affects your progress to build.”

Top Pic by Anna King on Unsplash

Left pic by Georgia de Lotz on Unsplash

 

The beginning of that toxic relationship with Instagram number

When I began my journey of painting daily, I watched eagerly as the numbers of people following my work climbed. I remember wanting to check my account first thing in the morning to see if the painting I had posted the day before had gained me new followers. It was a dirty little addiction and I didn’t enjoy the way it felt.

For many artists, myself included, there have been periods where, if the climb wasn’t happening rapidly enough, the motivation to paint just wasn’t there. The ‘who cares anyway’ thought would come to lurk on my shoulder.

I call this a ‘validation because’ mindset.

I would only feel motivated to paint because the external validation was pulling me to do so.

Why a commitment to self helps break the cycle of IG numbers feeding creativity

It was the decision to paint daily no matter what  that eventually helped break my addiction to validation. My commitment to my own challenge was more important than whether many followers latched on or not. Instead of stopping to paint, because of the unsatisfactory follower count, I pushed myself to paint through the feeling, paint in spite of the apparent low validation.

Then things shifted.

With daily work, the momentum of the art snowball takes on a life of its own. Once that happens the numbers stop mattering.

Your mindset shifts too.

I call this stage the ‘appreciation of’ mindset

Here’s the analogy I tap into to explain how daily work will break your attachment to the social media numbers:

With daily painting, that looming number on Instagram, the people following your account (ie your creative work), begin to appear like whether it’s raining outside or not.

While you’re still building your art house it seems like the rain matters more because you feel like it affects your progress to build.

Light rain or no rain (no new followers) = “eh, I can take it easy for a day, I can build slower. There’s no urgency to build the house because no one is coming inside. No one cares.”

Now, if you keep making despite light rain, hard rain or sunshine then suddenly you have a house to keep painting in and you care not for nought about the numbers. They’re just there. Pitter pattering on the window panes of your creative palace.

 

Now, about that shallow self-talk, when we feel like the numbers matter

 I don’t believe that in the heart of an artist, the numbers matter. That’s not initially why you sat down to paint, or to undertake a creative challenge. (and if it is, honestly, I’d suggest asking yourself if you really want to be an artist or if you just want recognition somewhere)

 When creatives look at the numbers, we think they matter, because we think high numbers = you’re a good artist.

 But what you’re really looking for is not approval, it’s signs of growth. 

That’s WHY you started painting. Somewhere deep inside, you, like me, are hungry for growth of self. We’re all just hungry for inner expansion and connection to our purpose. 

Here’s a beautiful Hopi Creation Story about the magic we can only find hidden inside

But it’s in the continuation of painting that we begin to see where the visible growth is happening. It’s in us. And it’s on that canvas or paper.

Stay committed to your creativity.

Before you know it, the numbers won’t matter.

What will matter is your art. And it will matter most to you.

Header image credits:

 

QUICK RECAP

MY METHOD TO STOP INSTAGRAM NUMBERS FROM AFFECTING YOUR CREATIVE MOTIVATION

1. Decide why you want to paint.

2. Commit to painting daily.

3. Painting daily switches your mindset around Instagram number growth from ‘validation because’ to ‘appreciation of’

4. Through painting daily you create a momentum and accountability to self.

5. The growth you’re looking for in the ‘Instagram follower increase’ is really a growth of self.

If you liked this post, please share it with a friend who could use some creative inspiration. I’d be grateful and I’m sure, so would your friend. x

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Lessons from the Dandelion: How to navigate change

Lessons from the Dandelion: How to navigate change

MINDFUL MININATURE

Lessons from the dandelion: How to navigate change

I have a feeling that conventionally we view ‘change’ as the BIG unknown and ‘acceptance’ as this little thing we eventually have to give into in order to make the change less uncomfortable.⁠

But what if there’s a different way of looking at it?⁠

What if ‘change’ is this really little unknown and ‘acceptance is the BIG known we can reach to every time a possible change of direction arises?⁠

Change is happening all around us on micro levels. Our hair is growing. The plants are blooming. The leaves are going brown. You meet a new person you didn’t know yesterday. You hear a new song that shifts things for you. ⁠

It’s not that change is the divergence from the consistent ‘normal’ routine. It’s that we tend not to notice the little changes, give them that little nod hello.⁠

I made some sense from it by observing and painting this dandelion.

Here’s how you could view Change
many unknowable little things you can’t control like the seeds of a dandelion⁠

Here’s how you could view Acceptance
one consistently available thing you can tap into to smooth your experience of the ride, like the warm breeze all around you⁠

Every time I see a dandelion – I’m reminded of this ability to focus on the warm winds carrying the seeds rather than focusing (and trying to control) where all the little seeds will land. ⁠
.⁠
Puts a whole new perspective on having an ‘Easy Breezy’ nature, hey?⁠

 

“Every time I see a dandelion – I’m reminded of this ability to focus on the warm winds carrying the seeds rather than focusing (and trying to control) where all the little seeds will land.”

Leave me a comment if viewing change this way could help your art process, or other perspectives and thoughts you might have on change.

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A key insight from a Hopi Creation Story to inspire you to paint

A key insight from a Hopi Creation Story to inspire you to paint

Insight  from a Hopi Creation Story that will make you want to paint again

Mindful MiniNature

Some Hopi wisdom in tribal stories to get you in a daily creative habit.

Some people learn by example, some learn through teachings. I, and I have a feeling you too, learn through story.  Stories that transcend the fluctuations of societal trends are particularly powerful. Especially when they’re embedded with beautiful imagery and nature’s wisdom.

I came across such a story four years ago, the Hopi Creation Story. It was part of the catalyst for my starting, and more importantly, actually completing a 365 daily painting challenge in 2019. (I’m not a great finisher of things – all the ideas, peter out in the follow through.)

The story is a beautiful story. It’s not long. It’s also not complicated. But it’s powerful.

In a few short lines it helped me understand why doing the daily work of being creative, in my case painting, was the only way I would ever find the nameless fulfilment I was seeking.

 

 

“Doing the daily work of being creative…was the only way I would ever find the nameless fulfilment I was seeking.”

This is the Hopi Creation Story, although some sources say Sioux, . 

Hopi is the shortened form of their full tribal name, Hopituh Shi-nu-mu, which means good in every respect” or “good, peaceable, wise, and knowing.”

 Origin aside, its sentiment offers a universal understanding.

It came to me many moons ago from the pages of one of my favourite magazines, Happinez

CREATION STORY

Creation said:

“I want to hide something from the humans until they are ready for it.

It’s the realisation they create their own reality.”

The eagle said, “Give it to me, I will take it to the moon.”

The Creator said, “No, one day they will go there and find it.”

The salmon said, “I will bury it on the bottom of the ocean.”

The Creator said, “No, they will go there too.”

The buffalo said, “I will bury it on the Great Plains.”

The Creator said, “They will cut into the skin of the earth and find it even there.”

Grandmother who lives in the breast of Mother Earth, and who has no physical eyes but sees with spiritual eyes, said, “Put it inside them.”

 

And the Creator said, “It is done.”

 

 

 

Does it give you goosebumps? My eyes welled up when I first read it. 

These simple, honest words fell like rain into the dried up, dusty parts of my creative self worth. 

Here’s the thing though. I believe we all have that wise Grandmother living inside us.

It was her wisdom that urged the Creator to hide our ‘something special’ deep inside us. It was her wisdom that knew the only way we would ever be able to find the place where ‘it’ – our truths- were hidden  would be through deep digging.

Here’s how I interpreted The Hopi Creation Story

The only way to dig into the soul is to excavate it. We excavate by releasing what is compacted inside. And the way we humans release is through making, through becoming creators.

She knew, grandmother earth, that only the diligent work of seeking by creating daily, could ever lead us to the truth that we are quite literally the makers of our own reality. 

The revealing part of accepting your responsibility as a maker, is understanding that it’s not so important to put emphasis on what you’re making. The outcome while you make daily is of less relevance that what you uncover while you’re making.  

Think of it this way, ‘the making’ is the shovel, the tool you use to dig. What you end up producing, at least in the beginning, is just the clay you’re excavating. Leave it behind you and continue making, continue to unearth.

I had this story hanging above my desk where I painted every day for a year. Even on the days, especially actually on those days, where it was the last thing I wanted to face, I would read this story again and find the will to dig deeper into my own creation. There was reward and insight at the end of every one of those paintings.

Not one left me less.

 

“only the diligent work of seeking by creating daily, could ever lead us to the truth that we are indeed the makers of our own reality”

 

 

Here’s how you can use the power of this story to be more creative

1. Write it out. Paint it out. But make it tangible.

2. Stick it above your creative space or your writing desk, heck above your yoga mat. Where ever you do the one thing you do that helps you get closer to what brings you joy. It doesn’t matter if you now only see it as “just a hobby”.

3. Now do your creative thing. And do it daily. Don’t make it big. Make it do-able. Most importantly, dig daily.

If you don’t have a creative thing yet or you don’t feel creative at all you can try this free 21 day ‘drawing insight challenge’ under resources that I created. It’s super easy and combines simple quick ball point drawing prompts with some writing prompts to help get your intuition flowing. Something will unlock for you. I believe it with my whole heart.

4. Then, it doesn’t matter what creative thing you’re doing, write. Write write write. They don’t have to be essays. They don’t even have to be good. But writing is the only way your own inner wise Grandmother can start sharing her wisdom with you. You will be humbled and blown away by the realisations only applicable to you and only knowable by you that are waiting to be tapped into. I’ve been looking for a long time, and the only way I’ve found to access these realisations is through the daily task of creating and writing. I’m not the first to advocate this by a long shot. If you want more proof of the power of writing pick up ‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron.

 

You’ve got to start digging somewhere. It may as well be inward.

 

References:

www.religioustolerance.org
www.reviveyoursoul.co.uk
Womb Wisdom: Awakening the Creative and Forgotten Powers of the Feminine, by Padma Aon Prakasha, Anaiya Aon Prakasha

The Hopi (The History and Culture of Native Americans) by Barry Pritzker (z-lib.org)

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How To Stay Sane During a 365 Challenge: My Creative Commandments

How To Stay Sane During a 365 Challenge: My Creative Commandments

Some projects require you to make lists before you start them. Others again see you making post mortem lists after the project is complete to note down your accomplishments. I have a friend who calls these To-Do and Ta-Da lists. While lists are good for getting things done, some lists are necessary for not becoming undone. I made a list during my 365 challenge that I’m calling the Creative Commandments – and this list helped me stay sane and finish the challenge.

They were my own rules of the 365 challenge and things I had to remind myself to do or not to do in order to keep on doing the thing and more importantly – finish the thing I set out to do. 

Well, just in case you’re as big a fan of lists as I am or about to embark on your own big creative undertaking, I wanted to share this list with you. Mind you it’s not a rule book – well it was my rule board – but it gives you a peek into the kind of things that can derail the creative brain, the a-type person, the perfectionist and the in general giver of too much . Some of them you learn to navigate around, others you learn to dance with and yet others, well let’s just say some need to be taken over the proverbial knee and given a good spank lest they deter you from your creative journey any further. Either way – putting them on a list in a sort of commandment-esque kind of way helped me stay sane throughout the hard parts and the distracting parts of the 365 challenge.

I hope it helps you too.

 

A small note on the content of my 365 challenge commandments

 

A caveat before we go on. I know myself well. I know that I am hardwired to follow structure and rules (must be the German thing) and therefore I also know that my greatest liberations come when I figure out how to colour outside the lines of my own boundaries.

I’ve also come to like myself for who I am. I like that I can be thoughtful and tender and introspective and also swear like a sailor when the time calls for it.

As I mentioned before – these were the new rules, the anti-rules, that I wrote for myself on the white board that hung near my art desk during the challenge based on my own preconditioned notions and tendencies to do things. Yours might be different because you’re different or your 365 challenge is different.

But generally speaking I believe there’s some collective truth in them for how to stay sane when you’re doing a really big thing.

They have not been edited in any way or softened so as not to offend anyone. You have been warned.

Did you enjoy this list or find anything on it helpful? If one of them speaks out to you and you’d like to know more, pop me a comment – I’d be happy to give you some real life examples of how that rule made it onto my board. Us creative types have got to stick together!

As always, I’d really appreciate it if you shared this content with a friend you think might benefit (maybe someone considering their own year long 365 challenge?). 

 

Be kind to yourself and don’t stop being creative.

 

You might also be interested in knowing why you don’t need a fancy art studio to begin being creative (and probably why exactly what you have is better!)

 

3 insights that prove you don’t need the perfect art studio to begin creating (and actually why starting with what you have is better)

3 insights that prove you don’t need the perfect art studio to begin creating (and actually why starting with what you have is better)

You can’t open Instagram these days without seeing picture-perfect studio spaces where other artists create their masterpieces. What that picture isn’t showing you is how they came to own that space. Maybe they worked their buns off for it? Maybe it became available through loss in another area of their life? Maybe they just got lucky? You don’t know.

But you take what you see and use it to put yourself down anyway. What you see is that they have the ideal space and you don’t.

Beginner creatives dreaming of starting something often equate this to the fact that they can’t start painting, drawing, sculpting (insert particular craft here).

It’s fine to acknowledge that this is what the ‘perfect feed’ elicits in you initially, but you don’t have to let that be the end of the thought. Social Media shouldn’t get that finite an effect on you and your beautiful creative dreams are not that easily snuffed out. Really not.

I had that mindset too for the longest time. Here’s how I overcame it.

Big trees don’t start out as big trees

It dawned on me that an oak tree doesn’t just appear large and grandiose out of nowhere, lush with many green leaves in the centre of a perfectly manicured lawn and cute squirrels running up its trunk. It begins as a tiny little seed, stowed in a hard AF shell with a funny hat, buried way deep down in some dark, earthy mud for who knows how long. So I embraced my tiny acorn status and decided to flex my painting muscles right where I was planted, in my self-perceived mud (it wasn’t – Social Media just made me feel that way). And of course, minus the funny hat.

3 things you can learn from my creative studio journey

I wanted to share with you the various iterations of my painting spaces in hopes that it would inspire you to begin creating where ever it is you are now planted in your life.

The goal is never to suddenly appear at the end of the big picture. The goal is to enjoy all the many small steps of grafting on your way to building the creative life of your dreams.

Here goes.

1. Starting small reduces the creative pressure

About 2 years ago my “studio space” was a coffee table in my bedroom next to the desk where I did my content writing work (which was also my dressing table). I sat on the floor on a pillow and painted by the window light. If you had plopped me into my “dream studio space” I would very likely have felt unworthy. Feeling like I wasn’t a ‘real artist’ who hadn’t YET earned the right to be there could have put a serious block on my creative confidence. There’s a reason we bake cupcakes before attempting wedding cakes. Think of a small studio as your creativity cupcake.

Starting small eased the pressure and allowed me to grow slow

KEY TAKE AWAY: All you need to start creating is a flat surface and somewhere to sit your butt. Make use with what you have.

2. Distractions are first a curse, then a blessing

From the bedroom, I moved into the lounge space. [If you’re asking why I didn’t start there first; I had decided to renovate my kitchen in order to Airbnb the second room to create a side income to support the creative journey].  At this stage, my entire studio was a desk in my open plan lounge kitchen. I contended with many disturbances because that’s what was required. Other people enjoying the lounge space, cooking noise, music of not my choosing, television shows, pets wanting to go in and come out – and the worst of it all – the constant pile of dishes glaring at me from across the room.

But in order to give yourself to the creative process, you have to learn that commitment means averting your gaze and fickle attention span from other things.

There will ALWAYS be distractions in life. Sitting down to paint is a choice.

KEY TAKE AWAY: You choose to give focus to your creative pursuit in spite of all the imperfections and distractions of the moment, not because they don’t exist.

Learning how to not attach to them and, for the moment, letting them just ‘be’ there, will show you that you don’t need ‘the perfect studio space to get creative’.

3. Creating in the less than optimal fuels your drive for better

There was an ideal space on our property but due to a complex string of life scenarios, it required MASSIVE decluttering and sorting before you can even move in there, let alone, create. It was something we as a family had been putting off for yonks. But, working in that cramped, distraction hot zone in my lounge was just the sort of consistent discomfort I needed to motivate me to make shit happen.

While I had managed to contend and create amid the distraction and messy kitchen and home clutter, I eventually lost the plot and a fiery beast with the energy to move the seemingly insurmountable room of clutter awoke within me. So the massive outside studio renovation began. It took about 2 months of weekend grafting to sort, drive away, donate, fix, properly store etc – a task I previously couldn’t find the gumption for.

When you prioritise your creativity, regardless of the conditions, it rewards you with the energy you need to move bigger obstacles.

Now, this is the space I paint in. It’s still not large by any stretch, still mostly the size of that same desk with some added shelves. But it’s a dedicated space for painting that I’m all too grateful to have access to.

KEY TAKE AWAY: You will never be fully primed in the present for the environment you believe you’re destined for. You get there by beginning where you are.

The discomfort is how you begin to make the waves to traverse big seas.

Here’s my best nature guided tip

Put a plant by the space you want to start creating in. It has a way of helping you feel like there’s intention there. And plants grow slow too, so you’ll be in good company,

Start where you are with what you have and embrace being the little seed in a nut with a funny hat. But please start. Your creative journey can’t begin unless you do.

Aren’t you curious to see how your tree will grow? I’m excited for you.


If my studio journey thus far has ignited a spark in you to begin but you still feel a little stuck, drop me a comment and let’s figure out a creative solution. I’d love to help you get creative in whatever space you have available to you.

If you found this article helpful or think it might inspire a friend who’s feeling creatively stuck, please share it. I’m sure they’d be grateful to you for thinking of them.

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