A couple months ago, a young girl came up to me and handed me a business card that said only, “You matter.”
I’d never met her before, and I haven’t seen her since, but I appreciated the reminder. Today, I’m here to remind you that, even if you feel like the world is ending, your art matters – and you matter. Consider this your virtual “You matter” card.
For many of us creatives, the weeks since the election have been emotionally devastating, and it can be hard to find the motivation and concentration to create. Maybe you’re even questioning what the point is of your creative project. With the way the world’s going, why bother?
But making art isn’t frivolous; it’s more important than ever to share the stories that only you can tell, because we all need to learn about people who are different than ourselves. As creatives, we can share our unique experiences and perspectives. Your voice matters. By creating, you’re showing the world that you know that. You won’t be silenced. You’ll speak up for people like yourself, and for people who aren’t like you.
It’s a brave thing you do, and vital.
You matter, and that means you need to take care of yourself, mind and body. As we head into the new year, practice self-care that will allow you to continue making your art: tend to your spirit, and be kind to your body.
I’m at the stage in my writing where my expectations for myself are higher than my abilities, and I’m working hard to improve my writing quality and output to catch up. Awareness is the first step to improvement, so I believe it’s worthwhile to complete a writing self-critique. I looked for patterns of challenge areas in my writing craft, process, and production to identify ways I can improve. In 2015 I completed a self-evaluation of my writing to get a snapshot of my writing abilities, but I’ve learned a lot in the past year and my challenge areas have changed.
A lot of people have lists of things they’d like to do before they die; I have a list of things I’d like to make.
As part of my annual review process this year, for personal accountability that I’m actually working towards my creative goals, I’m publishing my creative bucket list with status updates. I’ll plan to come back and update this post in the future, at least annually.
My creative bucket list includes writing and illustration, my current creative foci. In my day job as a graphic designer, I need to ship my work regularly. Many of my creative goals involve shipping projects, not just completing them. To me, sharing the work is an essential aspect of completing it. In 2016, I selected three guiding philosophies for myself: sharing was one of them. I’m sharing this list in that spirit. I understand that the final step of getting a novel published or selling a short story is out of my control — but I can write the best novel or short story I’m capable of to improve my odds.
What’s on your creative bucket list?
Each year since 2010, I’ve conducted a personal review looking at aspects of my life from my creative career to my lifestyle. Several months ago, I decided that I need to up my writing game, so I also dug deep into my writing’s strengths and weaknesses. I think it’s worthwhile for writers to set aside a few hours to complete an honest, kind self-assessment of your writing to help you improve your writing.
The quantified self movement of collecting personalized body data has exploded since its ‘genesis’ in 2007, with a FitBit on every wrist and services like 23 and me offering personalized genetic analysis. I’m a data fanatic who studied to become a scientist, and I’ve bought into personal analytics, with a FitBit of my own, food tracking on MyFitnessPal, a log of my reading on Goodreads, and time tracking on RescueTime. But why should data be limited to our bodies’ data? Why not apply self-tracking to our creative pursuits, too?