I know where your time goes and I’m not even psychic.
I find it amazing how many people completely undervalue the power of their creative ventures. Although we spend years developing our professional craft, seeking to learn new skill sets or areas that we can monetize, we overlook the years of time that we’ve spent developing other creative or personal crafts.
I’ve been writing since I was a little kid. It was rare to find me without a notebook that was filled with whatever information was passing through my head, such as journal entries or complete nonsense that needed to be updated at any given minute. That addiction carried over to the technology side of the world, satiating my need for the instant gratification of updating some sort of running journal that was going on in my head. I probably should mention that my mind is a pretty strange place…so you never know if you’re going to get something valuable or a ten minute diatribe about how I don’t like to touch fish. Fish are GROSS.
As I progressed through my career, I was blind to the fact that these creative pursuits were actually what were driving my professional progress and development. My penchant for writing was appearing in a variety of different ways, whether I was writing grants in the non-profit world or creating curriculum for a variety of different educational courses. It’s amazing how long you can do something without realizing that it’s actually worth something.
Millions of people are doing the same thing every day. They write creatively and stash it away in Word documents or notebooks that are never published anywhere. Performers are out acting and honing a public speaking skill without realizing how rare it actually is to ENJOY public speaking, yet alone thrive in that type of environment. I know many artists personally that devote 20 or more hours a week to painting, drawing or other personal ventures that end up stashed in a garage somewhere to be revisited years later in fits of nostalgia.
The excuse is often some unattainable standard of good or desirable that doesn’t really exist. Our internal critic fires up quickly to tell us what a bad idea it is to take this stuff to the world with any type of commercial purpose in mind. Sometimes, our internal ethics inspector likes to tell us that you shouldn’t be trying to cash in on creative ideas.
This is certainly not saying that every effort you undertake should be about monetizing. What it’s really about is understanding your potential.
Many of us spend a ton of time thinking about how bad we are at this or that. Many of you that will read this would have a positive spin or quote to add to the conversation. However, I’m taking this opportunity to go after a cheap joke.
Rather than thinking about how bad YOU are at things, take a second to look at how bad EVERYONE ELSE is at some of these things. Think about all the terrible books or articles you’ve read in your life. Come up to me at an event or send me a message on Facebook to ask me to draw you something. I guarantee that the results will be awful, but they will probably also be somewhat entertaining. My stick figures are famous worldwide and I’ve been downright legendary in the “Draw Something” game.
When you think about that, also think about the fact that I am often undertaking web development projects. Guess what, I am TERRIBLE at most of the visual aspects of things and it’s something that I completely dread doing. Adding systems, functionality or content is easy and fun – but taking a picture of myself or developing a logo sends me into sheer panic.
Then, I log on to my Facebook after doing these projects and see some of my friends that are posting professional grade, beautiful photos with their amazing camera equipment. Others are posting amazing drawings of whatever they thought about that day. A lot of times, I suggest the idea of pursuing these gifts to some of them and they seem legitimately confused about how they might be able to turn this passion into their “day job.”
Sometimes, the answers to our biggest questions are right in our face. All of us are spending hours a week invested in one of these things that could actually become your central focus. Which one is yours?