Saturday, 29 December 2007

Making my life better - creativity

"I want to find a balance between money making, personal fulfillment and my responsibilities as a wife and mother. I want to make my husband and children happier while not feeling it takes away from the money or personal side of my life."

That was written amidst some notes but probably sums up what I'm aiming for overall.

With my job, and business development plans, creative wellbeing is intrinsically tied to work. So this post is about creativity and work as two separate but interrelated topics. I'll have a separate one about money and work although again, I have a fairly holistic approach. How could work, money, creativity, relationships, health and fitness not be interlinked? They're all about the common theme of me and my sense of happiness and fulfillment.
I want to work through the points 2 and 3 in Steven Aitchison's article 'Change Your Life Part 1: Grab Your Balls'

[Taken from his post with my answers in red:]

Most people don’t know what they really want to do with their
working life. Try the following exercise:

Write down 7 things you love to do: Read, Shop, Spend time with friends, Draw, Play with Beads, Write, Receive praise

Write down your 7 best talents (be honest and don’t be shy): Design, Analysis, Seeing how things (physical or abstract concepts) work, Jewellery making, writing, ability to learn quickly, sales, animal interpretation

Write down 7 jobs you’d love to do: Jeweller, Artist, Singer, Entrepreneur, Writer (non fiction), Wildlife photographer, erm... I'm stuck

Write down 7 things other people say you’re good at: Jewellery making, art & design, making people feel better, self analysis, sales, techy web stuff, mind reading (its a combination of empathy, logic and interpretation of body language, I do it unconsciously).

Write down 7 courses you would take [cut - specified university but I think thats too limiting. Not everyone wants to learn something purely academic - personally I've done quite enough academia to know I'm damn clever, now I wanna have fun!] if you had the chance: Silversmithing, salsa classes, drama, enamelling, fantasy watercolour painting, the psychology of mental illness, circus skills

After you have down this look at all the things you’ve
written and try and find a common theme. It might be teaching, it might be
learning, it might be driving just try and find the theme.

Art, design, performance, sales. I want to be good at my arts, and I want to achieve recognition and financial recompense for them.

3. If someone gave me a million pounds

If someone gave you a million pounds to change careers what
career would you choose?

I'd take the opportunity to learn to become a bench jeweller, opal cutter and artist, and to develop a name writing about my chosen arts. All three skills would require learning and practise.

[end article text]

To an extent I know what I want to be, what I want to do and how I need to change things to get there - but I think everyone knows that about themselves really, whats important is working out the specifics.

  • I want to develop as an artist.
  • I want the development of my websites, galleries and tutorials to drive money in through the business rather than the sales side being the focus and everything else being an afterthought 'when I have time' - switching those focuses is perfectly possible but requires planning and determination.
  • I want to spend less time on the work that I dislike to free up more time for the artistic side.
  • I want to get my websites up,
  • I want to be a good artist,
  • I want to be beautiful and I want to keep in touch with the things I enjoy.
  • I want to stop procrastinating with things that mean nothing and result in me getting frustrated,

I can see all the answers are there, everything I need to change my entire life focus and I can see what's stopping me from reaching it. I need to work out how to get past those obstacles, not just now but as an ongoing thing.

So - back to the focus. Creativity is a wonderful thing and I have the good fortune to be passably good at most things I try. I also learn extremely quickly. But I do have a tendancy to be impatient and fickle. My interests can change quickly and I'm not very good at working myself through passably good and onto excellence. I'm also quite poor at doing things that require a degree of setting up - because its not instant gratification and inevitably requires the drudge work afterwards of clearning up. My strongest artistic skills are cold jewellery making, web design and written communiation - because they're the ones I've been doing the longest. They're also the ones that currently contribute to my income. I'd like to add traditional art, cgi art, bench jeweller, opal cutter, and specifically specialist jewellery making writer to that skill set that makes money. Of those four extra things, writing is the only one I currently do so it stays as its essential to my business plans. The others are all new skills that will require development over a period of time. As my current interest is traditional art (and by traditional I mean pencils, pastels and paints), that stays too. Bench jewellery and opal cutting both require additional expenditure and learning from scratch so they can be pus aside for later development. CGI art I was reasonably good at until I found a reason to stop doing it, and realistically I no longer have a computer capable of dealing with modelling software. So it stays on the shelf as well.

Creativity requires regular practise - the more you do it, the better you get. Simple and obvious but easy to overlook. Some creative things are essential to my job. Jewellery making sells my beads and components by demonstrating their potential use. Writing enables me to sell my products through clear use of words. Web design enables me to create welcoming and easy to use environments in which to shop. My fledgling tutorials project is aimed at reaching a wider jewellery-making audience to buy my products (I write the tutorials using the ebay guides feature. Whether you love it or hate it, ebay has great search engine ranking). But they all need developing. I have a jewellery gallery within my ebay shop aimed at providing design ideas but it doesn't get updated anywhere near as often as it should. I should be producing a tutorial a week, and I've only managed two since the conception of the project several months ago. Both finished jewellery and jewellery making sales websites are still in their embryonic stage. I have plans to start writing for magazines, again with the aim of promoting myself and my products to a wider audience (but need the websites finished first, realistically - eBay is a problematic venue). And I have all manner of plans for raising my internet profile to much higher levels (again, I kind of need the websites finished first). Artistically, I see no particular reason that I couldnt become a good enough artist to be saleable, but more importantly, its something I enjoy doing for ME. I don't want to spend every waking moment obsessed with whether what I'm doing makes a profit.

I believe that doing (I used 'practising' first but that suggests 'not for real' which is misleading) those artistic skills, regularly and consistantly will automatically result in a greater income. As above, I want to use my creativity to drive sales to the more mundane side of my business, by creating a reputable, well regarded presence within my fields, rather than my focus being entirely on the mundane side with anything creative being an afterthought. So my products are listed, sold and restocked with very little direct input while traffic comes from making jewellery, writing about design ideas, tutorials, magazine features etc which is a major shift from where I am now where all of my sales come through ebay and I'm constantly revising listings, and adding new products (and getting very bored and frustrated with it, and angry at myself for being bored with it).

So on a regular basis I aim to:
  • Draw or paint
  • Make Jewellery
  • Write online tutorials for publishing on both my websites and ebay
  • Write tutorials aimed at specific magazines
  • Spend some time every week looking at promoting my web presence through the use of online communities (various methods from writing book reviews to offering advise on jewellery making forums)

I should be spending some time, every day, at a creative activity that I enjoy.

To do this I need to:
  • Get my house in order - finish my websites and make sure my stock is all listed
  • Energise myself - mental energy is related to physical energy and that is related to diet and exercise
  • Create a calm environment - I hate mess and disorganisation (bit stupid really given that I'm one of the messiest people I know) - schedule in regular housework.
  • Develop a balanced life schedule. I don't mean to the exclusion of spontaneity but I dont want to be sitting round going arghhh I don't know what to do either. I'm at my best when I'm structured and busy and I operate well with lists.
  • Have welcoming artistic environments. My bead room is getting better, it feels a bit more homey now and Geoff shifted his CCG cards off my desk in there. My stock will be moving out of the office at some point in spring (to new premises - they're currently being built) at which point the office  can be optimised towards Geoff and I doing things we enjoy. Drawing is OK at my desk, painting really isn't.
My main problem here is balance and scheduling and organsation and I want help and suggestions with this.

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