10 Lessons On Creativity

  • 8 min read

10 things I learnt about creativity at #Blogtacular 2015

I’ve always loved to make.

But when you’re chasing your passions and trying to use creativity to fuel your lifestyle, it gets hard. Things don’t feel carefree anymore.

Even attending Blogtacular felt like making a statement. “Hello world, I’m a blogger!” Who am I to share my ideas? What if everyone thinks I’m some passé bore? (When I did get the guts to say hello, so many people had the same fears. Go figure.)

It’s easy to get anxious when your ideas aren’t just about having fun. How are you supposed to approach creativity when it’s your work?

These ten lessons have changed my perspective. I hope they help you too.

1. You never lose the fear.

Grace Bonney, with all her poise and hard-earned experience, shared how things have changed since she started blogging in 2004. (You can still see some of the first posts on Design*Sponge.) Her message was to embrace change and the fear that comes with it. If you don’t, you’ll burnout.

Yup, even Grace has to deal with self-doubt and making mistakes. And in her five steps to embrace change, she told us to acknowledge our fears first. The boogie man is a lot less scary after you peek under the bed. 

It’s an almost brutal truth, but it’s comforting too.

Grace’s talk will be free to watch online at Blogtacular soon, so I won’t spoil everything. Until then, get some inspiration from the Design*Sponge mission statement.

10 things I learnt about creativity at #Blogtacular 2015

The goody bag tote by Nikki McWilliams

2. If you fail, try again.

Francesca Stone of Fall for DIY shared her journey to becoming a full-time blogger. Fran has been blogging full-time for less than a year, and it took her more than one try to make that happen.

If you fail, figure out what you did wrong and try something different.

My favourite takeaways from Fran’s talk:

  • Make a plan that you can refer to when you’re stressed. Focus on where you’re going to remind yourself why the work is worth it now!
  • Don’t let brands dictate your story or your voice. Be selective in who you work with.
  • Value consistent quality over a strict schedule.

10 things I learnt about creativity at #Blogtacular 2015

Goody bag contents. Clockwise from top left:
Baggage Reclaim notebook; tester pot of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint;
Nikki McWilliams biz card; peppermint sweets; Laserbean keyring;
Betty magazine; motivational banner by Planes Workshop

3. Don’t be artificial.

Artificial—just no. Kat M might have been talking about how horrific artificial light is for photography, but I’m going to use this opportunity to get all deep and philosophical instead.

One theme throughout the day was collaboration. (More on that in a sec.) You can’t collaborate without being true to your personality and what you want from your work. Being you attracts people who will support what you do. Two heads are better than one—if they speak the same language. I mean that figuratively, but literally helps too.

4. You can always find the time for your passions.

Igor and Judith work full-time, run their own blogs, live in different countries, and still have the time to work on Urban Jungle BloggersIf they have the time, anyone does.

In two years, their passion for a greener urban jungle has grown into a community of 600+ bloggers and thousands of social media followers. In Igor’s words, you find 5-10 minutes here and there.

If you’re passionate enough, you find the time. There is no satisfaction in easy work.

Tips from Mollie Makes on finding your voice #blogtacular

Above: Lara Watson & Jessica Bateman from Mollie Makes shared
10 ways to find & evolve your voice.

5. Judge your work through the eyes of a friend.

How would you approach your work if only a good friend was going to see it? I loved Lara’s and Jessica’s tip to imagine you’re speaking to a friend. I think their advice applies to any creative project, not just blogging.

And true friends won’t be afraid to say, “You could do better” or “That’s not like you at all!”

What would a friend say about your work?

6. Digital tools can’t replace humanity.

Digital techniques can make creativity easier to express. You can carry your life’s work in your pocket.

But digital work doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Our creativity is shaped by our humanity and our history. Our nature is to be social and have a physical impact on the world.

Anthony Peters is creator and co-director of Made You Look, a film about how creative people work in a digital age. He ended Blogtacular with a question: Are you doing what you love? Or just what is expected of you?

True connection is much more than just retweets and likes. Creativity can, did, and does exist without digital tools.

10 things I learnt about creativity at #Blogtacular 2015

7. Let go of control.

Quick disclaimer: I worked for an Annie Sloan stockist. Her stuff is amazing. End of note.

Chalk Paint is proof that what you share will evolve beyond your control. People tweak things to suit themselves. If you make it easier for people to do that, you’ll win them over. Custom is king!

Letting go of control is scary. If you’re building a community (what creative person doesn’t want that?) you’re not the only one allowed to get creative. Even a photograph tells a different story to everyone who views it.

(Of course, that doesn’t mean people can steal your stuff.)

10 things I learnt about creativity at #Blogtacular 2015

Clockwise from top left: just some of the lovely reading material from Mollie Makes;
Betty Etiquette card; fox pouch by Anorak; pretty fabrics from a Mollie Makes kit

8. Invest in yourself.

How much would you pay to take the train and have a coffee with a new friend? Or to ask Grace Bonney a question in person? What about 1-on-1 advice from people you want to work with?

I’m always worried about investing in the wrong things: the wrong software, or books, or gadgets. But I’ve never regretted investing in an experience or in myself. Trust your gut and invest when you can make the most of an opportunity. Attending Blogtacular cost me £270. (Ticket, travel, hotel, and food.) For the value I’ve gotten, that was a bargain.

9. Collaborate, even if it’s just to flesh out ideas.

Projects don’t have to be epics. Collaboration can be “just” a brainstorming session. When we work together on creative projects, we make things better for everyone. We are the ones who control our culture. We determine how open and welcoming we are of new ideas.

Don’t hold back on sharing things. Ideas will never happen if we can’t even talk about them.

10 things I learnt about creativity at #Blogtacular 2015

Clockwise from top: Trouvé fabric; treats courtesy of Lollipop; Jennie Maizels patch;
customised Annie Sloan brush; Pinterest sticker;
biz card & brooch by Andsmile

10 things I learned about creativity at Blogtacular

10. No one knows best.

No one. Not you, not some arts professor, not your idol who’s been blogging for 10 years—no one. We’re all learning together. We all have ideas that could be valuable to someone else. For every person that thinks an idea is great, there will always be a hundred more who don’t like it.

No one expects you to know everything. Just start.

Acknowledge the fear, collaborate, and show your humanity.
We’re all in this together.

What lesson resonates with you the most? Let’s talk about it!

Lots of crafty love,


10 things I learnt about creativity at #Blogtacular 2015

Other goody bag treats not mentioned earlier:
ice cream cone card by The Lovely Drawer; stickers from The Hambledon;
the amazing Life Planner #BlogtacularXLollipop collaboration

Disclosure: I’m not affiliated with or sponsored by anyone mentioned in this post.
I just like what these people do.

25 thoughts on “10 Lessons On Creativity”

    1. Thanks Igor! After Blogtacular I definitely feel less crazy for working on projects I’m passionate about at odd hours.

  1. A really helpful post for those of us that didn’t make it to Blogtacular. I’m making it an aim of mine to attend next year. You seem to have come away very inspired! Thanks for sharing x

    1. So happy you think so Sam, making it useful for those who couldn’t go is exactly what I wanted to do. I’m already planning to go to Blogtacular next year, hope to see you there!

  2. This is a fantastic round up of an inspirational Saturday. I love the points you make. In particular this stood out to me: “Don’t let brands dictate your story or your voice. Be selective in who you work with.
    Value consistent quality over a strict schedule.”
    I really notice the blogs where this is applied, where everything fits with who they are and the circumstances they’re in; over those who seem to accept everything going. I can’t make Blogtacular next year and I’m so upset (I’ll be in Canada so it’s not completely bad). I know everyone is going to come away inspired again and I’ll miss out on a fantastic day!

    1. Thanks Abzi. It was such a great weekend. Fran’s advice was so practical and real, I loved her honesty and practicality in approaching blogging as work. I’m sure Canada will be just as inspiring! Even though I attended this year I’m still getting the virtual ticket – always an option if you can’t attend, too.

  3. What a beautiful, beautiful post, Anna! Maybe you should be a speaker at next year’s Blogtacular — I’d come listen to you! You have made so many valid points here, that I don’t think I can cover them all, especially not while nodding my head as vehemently as I have been while reading this post ;-)

    I loved the encouragement to be true to ourselves and to imagine we are speaking to a friend — that makes for a much more natural, fluid writing and progression within the post when it covered several topic or points. Also, it takes a lot of the “performance anxiety” out of blogging and makes it much more enjoyable, in my experience.

    I included some of my favorite quotes in my own blogtacular post, but here are a few:
    “Numbers are great, but engagement is more important.” Sam Baker
    I agree, because as much as I would love to have lots of comment on every post, I do love having regular readers who are blog friends and actually come by because they care, and not because I’m trendy or something.

    “What are people coming to YOU for? Don’t lose that by imitating others too much.” I cannot remember if this was something that Kristabel or Cate said during the “Grow Your Audience” talk, but it’s a good point and another reminder to be true to ourselves.

    And lastly:
    Experimentation is important, but if you cannot transition to something knowing you can do a good job at it, well, DON’T.
    That said, don’t let fear of failure stop you from creating something new.
    Paraphrased from something Cate Sevilla said, and boy do I feel like I should frame this and hang it above my computer monitor.

    1. Aww thanks Elisa. For now I’m just a diligent student, but maybe in a year or two I’ll have enough practical experience to share my own lessons! I started this post with 3 lessons in mind, but Saturday was so chock full of good advice I had to make it 10.

      Love the quotes you’ve shared, especially the note on making sure you can do something well before you jump in. It’s OK not be good at something!

      Igor’s and Judith’s talk on community definitely dove into the idea of being trendy. Yes, you need a bit of trend to build a community, but you need the genuine passion to make something. Trends don’t make lasting blogs.

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    1. Thank you Esra! I did try to get more photos during the day but most of the time I was too busy soaking everything in to get pics.

    1. Thanks Jane! Choosing sessions was one of the hardest things during the event. I’ve really enjoyed reading about the ones I couldn’t do.

  5. Love this post, Anna! One of the things that was so great about the day was the way in which there were so many lessons like these to learn no matter what our particular blogging focus happened to be.

    Out of your list, remembering to invest in myself = something I need to do more! Having days like this in the diary is well worth the time and money, they re-pay you tenfold in connections and inspiration.

    1. Thanks Laura! I completely agree that the value you get is so much more than what you’ve invested. For some reason it’s hard to imagine that but easy to see in retrospect.

    1. Oh thank you Gemma. I made this summary as much for myself to refer to as to share! There was just so much to learn and enjoy.

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