Reflections on My Daily Blogging Challenge

This post is VERY late. Oops, haha!

Back in February, I decided to challenge myself to daily blogging. So on February 1st, I sat down and put any and all ideas on paper without rhyme or reason and began to organize it into an editorial calendar. After all, I thought, the hardest part about daily content creation is having new ideas daily right?

Turns out it wasn’t as simple as that. I had a ton of ideas! I even had some that would have carried me over into March. I had single posts and series ideas. Luckily for me, I still have these ideas at my disposal and they will all make their way to this space. They just didn’t quite make it for February.

Technically, I didn’t succeed in daily blogging. I got as far penning in all of the titles in my editorial calendar and I published as far as February 22nd. There were days when I wrote I few in a row because I had fallen behind. If the main goal was simply to publish every single day then yes, I totally bombed in the last week of February.

However, just as I began to fall into the depths of despair (lit nerds will know what I’m referring to here!) at my apparent failure, I began to think about the point of this challenge and why I set it in the first place.

In the past, daily blogging seemed to be no problem for me. I was blogging for myself and didn’t care either way if I had a schedule or a plan or even readers. It was a creative outlet and place to save lovely discoveries. I had my own unique voice and it wasn’t stifled by fear. That first blog opened doors for me and I found myself blogging for other people and companies for several years. Blogging seemed like a cinch. But when I sat down to finally write my own blog, I was stuck. Coming up with ideas was not the issue.

I had lost my “voice.” Ghostwriting and blogging for companies are drastically different from personal blogging. My February daily blogging challenge became a means to finding my personal blogging voice. In that sense, it was a success! I discovered that daily blogging is probably not for me, at least not right now.

[I had another insight about the success of this challenge but life just happened – the phone rang, there was a knock on the door, bathroom break, Mr. Boeing started to bug me for a walk – and I lost my train of thought!]

I’ve also realized that I need systems in place in order accomplish everything I want to get done. [I found it!] Doing things in a random order with no plan makes it much more difficult to complete tasks on my to-do list. Systems, I think, will be extremely valuable.

On to the next challenge! [I don’t know what it is yet.]

On Bouncing Back

Had a bad day? Fell off the wagon? That’s cool, but now it’s time to bounce back.

Originally when I began this post, I was thinking more about how to bounce back from a bad art day. You know the kind: sketches feel extra rough, the paint isn’t cooperating with your paper… But the more I thought about it, there are so many situations beyond a bad day in the sketchbook that require us to bounce back.

Whether you are struggling with your art, post-vacation blahs, or a depletion of confidence in your abilities, it is so important that we get out of our own heads and back into the creative groove. I clearly have suffered one of these ruts and couldn’t find the inspiration to write whenever I did find the time. I even found it difficult to paint and sketch because nothing seemed to work or I simply had no drive. I’d get lazy and choose to watch TV instead. At the worst moments, I found that my confidence in my abilities was so low that suddenly all of my creative ideas (even the bad ones) seemed daunting and obscure.

So how does one break the cycle and bounce back? I took these two steps:

First, I spoke to someone.

As cheesy as that sounds, I decided to share that as a full time creative trying to make my living through my creative abilities, I was in a rut. It’s scary to admit when people around you may not understand and think, “That’s crazy! You’re so good.” (Hopefully that’s what they think! Haha) Basically, having someone to confide in works wonders for creative ruts. Often creative entrepreneurs have no office mates and it’s in these moments that can be felt more acutely.

Second, I just started.

I started typing, sketching, painting, tinkering, planning. You have to just go for it and literally dive back in and work through the first few pages, scribbles, sentences of crap before you can get back to the good stuff. I think creativity, like drawing, is a skill that can be learned. It’s a muscle that can be developed and just like going to the gym, the first time back after a break is painful!

Time to bring out and flex your creative guns! The more you practice your craft, the more confidence you will build as you see yourself progress. Here’s the thing: there are going to be bad days in the future. There are going to be people in your life that just suck the confidence right out and if you are a sensitive person, that’s going to affect you.

It’s how you bounce back and carry on your dream that defines you…

🙂

Appreciating Wins

I was chatting with one of my girlfriends the other day and I asked her: do you appreciate your wins?

We both began to note how we all too quickly give our successes a quick thumbs up and then it’s back to the hamster wheel of work and worry for the next goal; our wins slowly fade away. But why should these wins fade away? I understand that we can’t pat ourselves on the back for a job well done forever, but undervaluing them doesn’t make sense either.

I don’t believe it is “humility” that drives creatives to undervalue and barely appreciate a win. Humility is defined as a modest or low view of one’s own importance. As creatives, we strive to put our best work out into the world; the best we can create in that moment. If we thought so little of what we created and achieved, perhaps we wouldn’t even give it a chance to succeed; we wouldn’t publish our work for the world to see. So no, I don’t think it is humility that stops us from recognizing and enjoying the success of a project. You can be humble and still celebrate a job well done.

I think perhaps, it is a swell of negative thoughts or unrealistic goals or even high energy that drives us to pass over our little successes without giving them the time to be enjoyed. I’ll give you an example of what I mean:

Recently, I worked on a fun project for a magazine. It didn’t pay a lot but I had creative freedom and could reach a decent audience. I believed in the message of the article and I enjoyed the process. I worked, sketched, tweaked, connected with people, painted. From the beginning email correspondence to the final hand in and invoice, the project was a personal win. Every project is! As soon as it was finished, however, I went right back into my routine of work, work, set goal, work some more.

I didn’t take time to appreciate the success of my most recent project completed. Somehow the inner critic began its work, sending subtle thoughts to my brain to forget what I just accomplished; you’re not good enough, you’re not working hard enough. It took someone else to remind me to stop and take note of what I’d accomplished.

Never forget to appreciate your wins, all of them, big and small.

Dealing with Numbers

Followers. Fans. Subscribers. Likes. Page views. Visitors. You name it – it’s a game of numbers in the online world and they can be absolutely infuriating.

It’s really quite the phenomenon how those digits can cause people to lose sight of what the whole purpose of social media originally was. For many, the numbers have becoming intertwined with self worth or talent. It’s a popularity contest for some, while for others, a validation of skill. Social media has evolved but perhaps the way we think of it hasn’t quite caught up with its main purpose is now for many people. At least, sometimes I forget and focus on those numbers.

To me, social media has two sides: it is a means of staying connected to friends and family as well as a business and branding tool. As a creative, I like to see it as a platform to share my work and I put a lot of thought into the things I post. Here’s the thing, and perhaps this will sound familiar: as those numbers yo-yo up and down, the negative thoughts creep in. Before I realize it, my focus is closely directed at those numbers and what I can do to affect them positively. It’s a slippery slope into passionless posts that carry no personality or meaning. On the flip side, one can pour so much heart into their content and get disheartened by numbers and lose sight of their amazing content. It can become a dark cloud that creeps into your mind and overshadows the beauty you wish to share.

Here’s something I was recently told when I was letting those numbers bounce inside my head a little more than they deserve:

Numbers aren’t everything. Social media is just one communication channel. It’s a vehicle to get your message out: not the message itself. If you only focus on the numbers, you’re missing the entire point of your art and your craft.

Social media is the vehicle to get your message out. Social media is not the message itself. The numbers you see are not your message and they aren’t mine.

Don’t let the numbers take over and kill your creativity. Do the work, share it and appreciate those who genuinely appreciate it. Those are the people, not numbers, that matter.

4 Podcasts to Inspire + Motivate Your Creativity

Something I discovered is that being an illustrator – or a creative in general – means you have to be a business savvy person. Your creative work is really only one piece of the puzzle. It’s a very important piece but really, without doing the work to make your business viable, it will never matter how talented you are.

I have found that talent gets you started. Passion for the creative work motivates you to take the leap. Once you have, you’ve got more than your creative work ahead of you. Part of me knew all of this when I began the creative entrepreneur’s journey to self-employment. Another part of me still hopes that there is some secret recipe to success; some amazing shortcut that people are taking.

When I get into that desperate, what’s-their-secret mode, I’ve got a few podcast favourites that I like to listen to. Each of these shows remind me how each creative generally has the same story: they worked, they worked some more, they “made” it and they still do the work.

Being Boss

This podcast was one of the first shows that got me hooked on the medium. Kathleen and Emily are so easy to listen to and they share some much information on how to be boss. They are honest and real about what it takes to chase those dreams, grab them and make them into reality.

Creating Your Own Path

This is a new favourite. It is a weekly interview series that features inspiring individuals from a range of industries and creative pursuits. I really appreciate how the interviewees are at various stages in their career. It’s comforting to hear from other people are a similar stage in their journeys.

Creative Pep Talk

Need a pep talk? This is the podcast for you. Andy J. Miller gives actionable advice, shares personal stories that listeners can relate to, and puts forward so much positivity through all his episodes. Sometimes you need that on a low day (we all get those in our pursuit of dreams I’m sure).

After the Jump 

Sadly this podcast isn’t being updated anymore. I couldn’t resist sharing it here anyways. It still has 100 episodes of excellent content and interviews that I have found truly inspiring.

The wind is howling outside and I’ve got work to do. Sounds like podcast time to me!

Our Deepest Fear

I was chatting with a friend about the hurdles one faces in a creative career. I talked about the struggles and the frustrations and the confusion; I kept saying, “Oh I don’t know if I can do that. I’m not sure I’m brave enough or have the right voice/look/style/experience….” etc. etc. etc.

It was then and there that she interrupted me and asked: “What are you afraid of?”

I stammered to actually have a coherent and legitimate answer as she probed into why I felt “I could never do this” or “I’m not brave enough to do that.” And then she sent me this quote:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

― Marianne Williamson

I found it extremely inspiring and thought provoking. Whatever you do, whatever goals you have,  I bet you’ve been given everything you need to succeed.

Don’t let your light frighten you. 

Your Creative Career is Possible

LET ME INTRODUCE MYSELF…

In case you are new to my corner of the internet my name is Inés Beatriz (but you can just call me Inés). I am an illustrator and a writer and an all around creativity enthusiast. I know: it sounds broad and vague and like something you probably have read about a lot of people. Let me explain.

I began my career as a writer. I fell into it as one generally does when it comes to work after schooling. As that career path blossomed I found myself longing more and more for the hobby that has been a part of me ever since I was old enough to hold a pencil.

But enough about me! Let me just fast forward through all the crazy years of outgrowing shoes, braces, crushes, university anxiety, internships, job hunts, and plenty of work related writing…

WHAT IS THIS BLOG ABOUT?

This blog is about two things: it’s an outlet to share my illustration work and journey, but most importantly, it’s a space to share the struggles, the wins, and the lessons I have learned and continue to learn in a creative career in order to help you embrace and follow your dreams, realistically without being a “starving artist.” Whether you are an aspiring creative or a client (hey there!), my goal as an illustrator is to help you bring your project to life.

A CREATIVE CAREER IS WITHIN YOUR REACH.

Whatever your dreams or your goals are, I’m sure they equally excite, scare and frustrate you. How do you get there? Are you crazy to want them? What the hell is gouache? Where do I begin?!

Let’s figure it out together.