Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Choose Your Own Adventure

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
- pinterest
- twitter
- flickr
- facebook
- ravelry
- 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?
21 Comments leave a comment

Andrea said ...
I know exactly what you mean. I am new to the game in terms of blogging. I feel like I am playing catch up and at times defeated because of all the creativity out there. I also had to make the decision to focus on what I am doing to give to the creative community. My favorite venue in the creative community is pinterest. This is the place I feel most inspired to do and create. BTW I love Choose your own Adventure Books!
4/16/2014 11:55 AM

futuregirl replied ...
Andrea ... Glad you're giving your activities some thought. :)
4/19/2014 8:43 PM

Kristen said ...
I have a blog but am certainly not an active blogger. I like having a record of things I've made, and if it makes some connections, so much the better. I specifically try to refrain from making apologies for not posting more often because it is what it is. All of those "should haves" have become sort of a shared language among bloggers, especially those who aren't blogging daily. I appreciate that your space here isn't apologetic for not being something different. I like what it is, AND it reminds me that hey, it's OK just to do what works for me.
4/16/2014 3:59 PM

futuregirl replied ...
Kristen ... Apologies for who we are and what we do should never enter into the picture in the craft community or elsewhere in our lives. :) That's my motto for this year, "Love the house you're in!" Of course, if you need a new house, no need to apologize then, either, just pack up and move. ;)
4/19/2014 8:45 PM

Melisa said ...
Thank you thank you thank you! The way you give permission just to be ourselves here is just what I needed to hear today; I have been so full of 'shoulda woulda coulda'; this post truly blessed us perfectionists (who are really procrastinators or vice versa) :)
4/17/2014 7:19 AM

futuregirl replied ...
Melisa ... Haha! I think perfectionism and procrastination go hand-in-hand. You can't mess something up if you never finish it. ;) I fall into that trap sometimes, too.
4/19/2014 8:46 PM

katie kleber said ...
I have a friend who often said "quit 'should-ing' on yourself" and I love that expression - it helps to remind yourself to stop saying things like "I should..." and the like :) thank you for reminding me of this, too :)
4/17/2014 8:18 AM

futuregirl replied ...
katie kleber ... Haha! I've heard that one, too. :) It can be hard to stop setting unreasonable expectations for yourself, or to ignore the ones that people place on you. Especially in this day of shattered and unfocused attention (everything is blinking, barking, and banging away in front of us), it can be difficult to stay centered in ourselves.
4/19/2014 8:48 PM

I got up this morning with a whole list of "shoulds" ~~ thank you so much for giving me just the nudge I needed to ignore them all! I've come to the conclusion that I am not a serious blogger...I have several which I post whenever the spirit moves me; however, I've begun to feel guilty for not posting on a more regular basis or on a schedule. Your words this morning have given me just what I needed to remember that I began my blogs because I love to write. But I can go days without having a thought worth writing down...let alone worthy of posting! Thanks to you, this morning I realized that I blog for pleasure...*my* pleasure. If others find any of my thoughts interesting, that's a big plus...and it pleases me to know that people are out there reading what I've written...and some of them even leave an occasional comment (which I love, BTW). But the bottom line is that I don't make regular posts...and I realize today that I'm not going to continue to try to change that. Thank you for letting me acknowledge that my blogs are only fun if I let them stay that an obligation that collects a load of shoulds...that don't motivate me...and only leave me feeling less like writing than I did anyway. Very liberating!

Sara Kate
4/17/2014 9:49 AM

futuregirl replied ...
Sara Kate MacFarland ... That's fantastic! Thank you for taking the time to join in the conversation.
4/19/2014 8:59 PM

Susan C said ...
I am a lurker, plain & simple. I have gotten a lot of inspiration from you over the years and even occasionally commented. I have made starling handbags and two heart scarfs from your patterns and they were a joy!
4/17/2014 10:04 AM

futuregirl replied ...
Susan C ... That's so cool! Thank you for delurking for a moment to leave such a sweet comment. :)
4/19/2014 8:59 PM

Lauren said ...
Half-way through this post I thought this might be an "End of blog" post! Very glad to hear it isn't! I only read two craft blogs regularly, yours and the Yarn Harlot's. I find both inspiring and just fun to read. I always love your technical posts and Alice stories. And I'm still looking forward to the wristlet pattern, if you ever feel inspired to write it. :)
4/17/2014 2:28 PM

futuregirl replied ...
Lauren ... Oh, goodness. You couldn't be sweeter. :) I do hope to post the wristlet pattern eventually. It is one of the most often asked about projects for which I haven't already posted a pattern.
4/19/2014 9:01 PM

caroline said ...
Hi Alice,
I find I check a few blogs regularly. I don't subscribe. Yours is one I ve stuck to for some years now. You inspired me to crochet although I m definitely more a sewer. If I do not go to a blog spontaneously it means I ve lost interest, sometimes I go back after a while. I started a blog but I can not keep it up.
4/18/2014 12:44 AM

futuregirl replied ...
caroline ... That's so sweet to hear! How nice to know that I'm one of your regular stops. :) Thanks for taking the time to comment.
4/19/2014 9:01 PM

Alyce said ...
This is what I needed to read. I'm so guilty of always apologizing for being away, and now that I've opened up an Etsy shop, I'm trying to find the best way to connect to potential customers, and I'm beginning to think that blogging ain't the way. It's nice to be reminded that there's no set formula for being a maker or entrepreneur. I create my own.
4/19/2014 11:17 AM

futuregirl replied ...
Alyce ... Yes! Exactly. Find what works for you. That's the secret to everything. :)
4/19/2014 9:02 PM

First off, I love the calming nature pictures you included in this post. I got all metaphorical and started thinking about how nature is the baseline for all creativity; the ultimate creation. Then I started thinking about crocheting trees and yeah. Got a little side tracked for a few minutes.

Second, I LOVE CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE BOOKS. My friends and I in college would make up our own. Because we are children. And choosing your own adventure is far more important than homework. Always.

And finally, everything about this post is delightful and true. The Information Age is such a blessing to creative folks, as well as such a curse. I mean, we can learn how to do almost anything just by reading tutorials and watching youtube vids, but there is the constant (and totally irrational) pressure to compete with ALL THE INTERNET everyday. Which, I myself fall into all the time. This post is a lovely reminder that, hey, we can't do all the things all the time, and there's no reason why we should feel bad about it. Too true!

As for my online crafty involvement, I'm a blog lover. Love reading them, loving writing them, love it all. I can be a bit of a lurker (-cough- like when it comes to your blog -cough-) but I am still an avid reader of craft blogs. Additionally, I pushed my boundaries six months ago and joined a facebook group for knitters and crocheters. Some of my other online friends were members of the group and encouraged me to join. I was wary at first, but it turned out to be an awesome way to connect with people, ask questions, and just have a good time.

Again, great post! :D So glad this wasn't a "I'm not blogging anymore" post, because you had me worried for a minute there. XD
4/21/2014 2:18 PM

futuregirl replied ...
Carolyn Michelle ... Thanks for lowering the lurk-shields to leave such an amazing comment. :) The photos are from our Northern PA trip several Octobers ago (5?!) - such a beautiful little road trip.
4/25/2014 8:57 PM
Jessica said ...
I loved the chose your own adventure books too!
4/26/2014 2:35 PM


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