One of the highlights of my childhood was reading Choose Your Own Adventure
books. If you're not familiar with them, they are books where you are asked at intervals to decide what direction the story will take. At the bottom of the page, you're asked a question, and depending on your answer, you turn to a certain page number to continue reading.
There are two wonderful things about Choose Your Own Adventure books: (1) you are in control of where the story goes; and (2) you can read the book over and over and it will be a new and different experience every time (until you run out of story lines).So Many Choices
The awesome thing about our online maker community, is that you can participate on whatever level you choose. In essence, you can choose your own adventure here. There are an overwhelming array of venues and technologies you can use to connect with other makers:
- write a blog
- read blogs
- forums like craftster and crochetville
- and a bunch more (add ones I missed in the comments!)
I see (and hear about) a lot of disatisfaction in these venues. People saying they *should* blog more, or *should* post more pictures, or *wishing* they didn't drag their feet when it comes to X, Y, or Z. Sometimes we all have valid gripes. Who couldn't use more time, money, and talent? But when I hear the word "should" alarm bells ring.
Blogging isn't for everyone. Facebook isn't for everyone. Twitter isn't for everyone. Maybe the reason you're disatisfied with your level of involvement is because you are trying to fit your creative circle peg in a square hole. Everyone's needs and desires are different. Just because Person A's creativity exploded into a sky full of fireworks when they started a blog doesn't mean that it will do the same for you.
Maybe you're more of a Flickr person. Maybe you're a tweeter. Maybe you're a lurker. I say, embrace the avenues online that encourage, support, inspire, and ultimately make you feel good about your level of involvement. I say, whatever you choose to do is A-OK. Things Change
Also, keep in mind that your creative needs and desires will change over time. When I first discovered feed readers (like Google Reader and Bloglines) I subscribed to EVERY blog I stumbled across. I ended up with hundreds of subscriptions. I found checking them everyday was a joy.
But years later, I saw all those subscriptions as a diversion, a chore, and the opposite of inspiring. I had much less free time and keeping track of all those people and projects where keeping me from taking the time I needed to find my own inspiration and complete my own projects. I was also comparing my seemingly tiny crafty output to *everyone else's* crafty output. I'd finish one project and my feed reader would show me 85 even cooler finished projects. It became disheartening.
I ended up deleteing all my subscriptions except for those of my very best blog-friends. My extra blog surfing came in the form of visiting my commenter's blog. Other than that, I didn't get out into the crafty world much. I focused my energy where it was needed most, creating.Feeling Good Is Different Than Being Comfortable
Feel like I should add a little disclaimer here. I don't want to come accross as saying you should never be uncomfortable or push your boundaries. Being uncomfortable and pushing your boundaries is a great way to grow as a creative person. I never ever in a million years thought I'd have a blog. Never. Ever. Even after I started my blog, I would argue that it wasn't a blog. I was *so* uncomfortable when I first started it, and frankly, it sorta stank, especially the photos.
But after giving it a go, I found that it had a ton of positive side effects for me: I finished projects more often; I took more risks in my projects; I *loved* getting feedback that from people who *got* what I was doing. I was growing as a creative person!
So, this is the disclaimer: You should feel good about your level of involvement in the craft community, but you shouldn't necessarily feel comfortable with it, creatively speaking.Tell Me About Your Experience Online
I'm curious about your experience in the online creative community. What venues work for you? Why? What venues don't work for you? Why? Have you changed your online habits over time? What made you change?