The Secret to Connecting with Your Creative Community

[box options]Side note… Today I’m guest posting on Michael Perkins’ amazingly creative blog The Handwritten. You’ll want to check out Michael’s take on simple, honest blogging. It’s like eating decadent desert without the calories. [/box]

There’s a secret to joining a creative community.

“I don’t like the word ‘community.’ Sounds needy and I’ve had enough of co-dependency,” you may say.

“I’m an artist, Andrew. I lock myself away in a room and think about my feelings for hours on end. I’m just fine without a creative community.”

“I’m not comfortable calling myself ‘creative,’ so how would I fit in with people who really are creative?”

Who is that talking?

What is keeping you from connecting?

Why do you feel the opposition to connecting with other creatives?

It’s fear.

$%#*@ that stupid fear. Kick it in the nostril. Send it packing back to the land of illusion, pretend and lies.

Moving Beyond Fear

Fear always keeps us from connecting. It always whispers lies (like those above).

You can count on fear to be a nice little surrogate community, but surrogates are not the real thing.

Fear moves in, takes hold and secretly tells us that it is our best friend. It’s a liar. Don’t befriend this dude. He’s out to eat you and your lunch and he’ll tell you you’ll be happier if you let him do it.

Trouble is, sometimes fear is such a part of us that we don’t even recognize him, but it’s simple.

It’s the voice that keeps telling you ‘no.’

One Minute Test

Identify fear.

Isolate it.

Eradicate it.

Just fill in the blanks…

I’m afraid of                                               and that fear has helped me                                                .

Examples:

  • I’m afraid of asking my boss for a raise and that fear has helped me make what I’ve been making for the past three years.
  • I’m afraid of writing a novel and that fear has helped me talk about writing a novel rather than writing a novel.
  • I’m afraid of letting go of fear because it lets me make excuses and I’d rather make excuses than deal with my fear and that fear has helped me make excuses instead of creating.

Seeing the payoff (rather, the lack thereof) fear provides should make you angry.

It’s called ‘righteous indignation.’ The feeling is similar to suddenly realizing you’ve been imprisoned for the past X years and didn’t know it. But the prison cell of fear is made with rubber bars. It’s very easy to get out if you see fear for what it is: an illusion.

Rinse and repeat this fill-in-the-blank exercise as often as needed.

Join the Community

When fear is brought into the light it withers like the wicked witch of the west under a dousing of water.

Now connecting is as natural as the breathing you’ve done unconsciously while reading this post for the last two minutes.

+Follow someone from the comments here: writers, designers, story tellers, moms, dads, podcasters you name it. They’re creatives just like you and they’ll be glad to encourage you.

+Make a coffee date in the next ten minutes to talk to someone interesting. Stay away from commiserators.

+Post a comment below to continue the conversation happening here on Creatives. It’s exciting to see people coming out of the woodwork.

Question: How do you connect with people in your creative community?

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Author: Andrew Zahn

I'm a son, husband, dad, business owner, actor and good sleeper/eater. On this blog, I pave a highway for creative growth by providing food, water, and shelter for those wishing to live, work, and play with creative zest.

  • Just came to your blog for the first time via The Handwritten. I’m looking forward to becoming a regular reader. Looks like you’ve got some great stuff going here!

    • Andrew Zahn

      Hey Jon! Welcome. . . we’re looking forward to your contributions.

      So glad to have you.

  • I would agree that while we often do creative work in isolation, remaining too isolated can be a true enemy to our self-esteem as creative people. The best way I started kicking off a plunge into creative work was to take an evening class in writing where I met an amazing teacher and mentor, and several fantastic community members who have become creative companions and friends. So I would encourage everyone to scour the offerings in their communities (my town is only 8000 people but still offers a wealth of these kinds of classes) and take one to get an “automatic” community. Community colleges can be good places for these kinds of opportunities.

    • Andrew Zahn

      Community college–great Idea Alexandra.

      Sometimes just taking that class will provide the much needed connection.

  • Great post, we ALL NEED COMMUNITY. You must reach out to others and connect with them. Sometimes, I think competition and fear go hand in hand; this can stop us from connecting with other creatives.

    • Andrew Zahn

      Sent you an e-mail Jim!

  • One of the ways I connect with others who are in the blogging community is through the comment section of my blog and the blogs I read. I recently have started to be more intentional about starting and having a conversation/discussion with others. Doing this allows a blog post to evolve.

    • Andrew Zahn

      It’s a fun way to connect and learn about others isn’t it and it’s amazing how the community starts to grow when people genuinely connect rather than just read a post or write a post.

  • Glad to finally make it here. I keep seeing this huge community of creative friends all over the place and I love it. I love having all of these people who encourage each other to dream and create. Awesome stuff.

    • Andrew Zahn

      So glad to have you Larry! Very encouraging to have the community to help us grow and mature in our creative projects isn’t it?!

  • Great post, Andrew.

    I blog about creativity in photography, hoping to inspire my readers to unleash their creativity.
    Fact is, I get myself inspired by looking at all those amazingly creative photos and project around the web and in real life. So it works both ways.

    Thanks for sharing, love your blog.

    • Andrew Zahn

      Thanks Marcel, I love your site too. The pics you curate are fantastic idea-starters!

      Love that you’re dropping in here.

  • A good way to connect is to offer help and encouragement. The Golden Rule can apply when making connections with others.

    • Andrew Zahn

      Truth. Plain and simple Dannon.

  • Hey Andrew. Loved your post on “The Handwritten”! Loved your encouragement throughout this post too. Thank you! I am about to start my new blog tomorrow! Talk about overcoming fear :). I know what I am passionate about, so it’s time to stop dreaming and start doing, right?
    I originally pursued “creativity” via my degree in interior design, but several years ago God called me into a different kind of “interior design.” Now I pray that my words will help to improve the interior spaces of the hearts and minds of those who read them. I have traded in the paint and fabric samples for the keyboard and spell check…
    Looking forward to reading more of your blog!
    Thanks again!

    • Andrew Zahn

      I love the twist on interior design/interior hearts.

      Congrats on taking that bold first step! Share the progress here from time to time. I’m sure others would benefit from what you’re doing Tracy.

      Thanks for dropping by.