Four important creative lessons I learned this year
2017! What a trip! There have been wins, losses and lessons…but no regrets. Here’s what the year taught me…
There’s no doubt about it, 2017 was one of my busiest years to date. I launched a new writing business, made serious progress with my first-ever screenplay and started work on an exciting new art project, which I can’t wait to share with you in 2018.
At the same time, I put extra effort into my most important relationships, tried to improve my health and fitness (admittedly, I was coming off a pretty low base!) and even managed to squeeze in a bit of overseas travel.
That was all great, but the year had its challenges too. The passing of family members, the disruption of moving home, the initial fear that comes with establishing a startup.
2017 wasn’t all roses, that’s for sure. But for every up and down, I learned a lesson that made me more grateful and more focused than ever before. Today, I’d like to share a few of them with you:
1. Anything’s possible if you’ve got the nerve
Motor company founder, Henry Ford, once said, ‘Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are probably right.’ This year, when I started my business, someone said, ‘It’ll take you at least six months to get your first client.’ I had one in less than two weeks. And within three months I’d reached full-capacity. So, work hard, believe in yourself and save the worrying for later—or even better, for someone else!
2. Never trade your authenticity for approval
When I started work on my latest art project—a collection of about 20 illustrations—I asked a well-meaning friend for some feedback. They told me that they preferred a completely different style and medium to the one I was using. Don’t ask me why, but I immediately changed my approach. Then, about four illustrations in, I realised that I’d lost all enthusiasm for the project. The creative process simply wasn’t enjoyable anymore. Why? Because I was no longer realising my vision, I was realising someone else’s. To add insult to injury, when I showed my friend the new versions, they said, ‘On second thoughts, I much prefer your original versions. They were really cool!’. Creativity takes courage. So, always remember to be yourself. The world will adjust!
3. You can do anything, but not everything
With the fast ramp-up of my new business came feelings of guilt. I felt like I was neglecting my other creative projects. So, what did I do? I became a workaholic, of course! I worked crazy hours, and I had no time or energy for my family or friends. It was only this week, when I read a paper on sustainable peak performance, that I realised how important self-care is. I’ve just started implementing some surprisingly simple time-management strategies and (gasp!) practicing the art of saying ‘no’. It’s only early days, but I’m already working faster, feeling healthier and enjoying more quality-time with my family. So, remember to rest, make time for play and look after yourself. You’ve got to nourish to flourish!
4. Surround yourself with positive human beings
Apparently, you become like the five people you spend the most time with. So, choose your company carefully. Mid-way through the year, I made a conscious decision to focus on the more positive relationships in my life. Best. Decision. Ever. Remember, life is short. Spend it with those who make you laugh and feel good.
So, that’s what 2017 taught me. Believe in yourself, stay true to your vision, make time for self-care and surround yourself with good people. How about you? What important lessons did you learn this year? Please share them in the comment box below!
Victoria Hall is an English-born writer and illustrator with a passion for anything gothic, eccentric or quirky. She is the creator of three picture books for children, Penny Prickles at Coogee Beach, Eggy Peggy Has Lost Her Leggy and The Fairy Beasts. For more info, check out Victoria’s bio here.