What the Heck is Bloglovin’, and Do I Need It?

Christine S:

If you have ever wondered what Bloglovin’ is all about and how it could be helpful in drawing traffic to your site The Daily Post may have the answer…

Originally posted on The Daily Post:

Have you noticed images like this in the sidebars of blogs you read? Now you know what they're about.

Have you noticed images like this in the sidebars of blogs you read and felt like you were missing something? Now you know what they’re about.

While catching up with your favorite bloggers, you’ve probably seen an invitation to “follow me on bloglovin’!” in more than one sidebar.

What is bloglovin’? Don’t you already follow the blog in your Reader? Do you really have to sign up for another online account? Let’s take a look at why lots of bloggers are signing on.

What is it?

Bloglovin‘ is a tool for keeping up with blogs — a way to manage feeds. Lots of bloggers turned to it after the demise of Google Reader. When you create an account there, you can follow any blogger on any platform, whether or not they’re also signed up. Then, you can log in and see the latest posts from all the blogs you follow in…

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How to be original?

This is a question which plagues many artists, writers and designer-makers every day. Most people have great ideas, find out that somebody else has already had the same idea, and instantly give up all hope of being an ‘original’. This also applies to bloggers who have to live with the knowledge that every blog post they can possibly think of has already been written.

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A great art teacher once told me (and the rest of the A-Level fine art class):

Stop moaning and get on with it! Everything you think has already been thought and every idea you can have has already been had by somebody else. So what?! Just make something! Get started!
~ G. K.

It turns out that this was the single most important piece of advice I have received in my creative education. I refer back to it whenever I find myself at risk of copy-cat syndrome. It helps to keep the demons in check. In fact, I wish I had reminded myself of this more when I was at art school. It could have saved me hours of grief.

I recently stumbled upon a TEDTalk which confirmed the advice above by boldly stating that ‘Everything Is a Remix’:


So now we acknowledge that there is no such thing as original thought and originality, what are we supposed to do? Use the advice above and get started on something. It can be a full-blown creative project or just a small idea. Whatever you do, do not discard it! You will regret it later if you do.

If you don’t have the confidence to get started right away, write the idea down or make a quick sketch and come back to it later. Trust me, all is not lost

Luckily, there is one factor that works in your favour when it comes to creating your own work: every person is unique and no two personalities are alike. No two people’s brains work the same and therefore no two people’s creative output is the same (unless you are making a conscious effort to copy somebody else’s work, of course).

So take heart. However many others have had the same ideas you have, none of them can put your creative spin on it. That’s your prerogative and it can’t be taken away from you. Once you get started, your idea will evolve anyway.

Very often the end product of my creative activities is far removed from the first idea which is usually a good thing. You cannot be Picasso, Stephen King or Martha Stuart but you can be yourself. Good news, right?

See you again soon,
Cxx

Great Craft Find: Bibliophile greeting cards

I found a tiny English shop (Candle Lane Books) which deals in second hand vintage books. Apparently the owner repairs these where possible before selling them on to eccentrics such as myself.

In this shop, a treasure trove of knowledge and beauty has been created. It’s a quirky and intriguing little place. Unfortunately I didn’t think to take a picture of the shop. Sorry about that.

If a book is beyond repair, the owner’s son will tear it up and use parts to make lovely greeting cards of which I just had to buy one. They are beautiful! Snapshot below. Hope you like it.

Manifesto for the creative traveller

Most people avoid solitary travels. Yet for the creative traveller being alone (not lonely) can be a great opportunity to regain artistic focus and discover new inspiration.

Especially those of us who work a day job alongside our creative endeavours know that life can become stale when our creativity is pushed into the background by the daily chores. Therefore a change of scenery can work wonders in keeping you excited and productive.

Writing in response to the weekly writing challenge set by The Daily Post, I have decided to make my case for travelling alone in search of inspiration.

Now and then in travel, something unexpected happens that transforms the whole nature of the trip and stays with the traveller.
~ Paul Theroux, The Tao of Travel

 

The Destination:
The good news with this type of travelling is that it absolutely doesn’t matter where you decide to go. If you don’t have much money to spare you can opt for a day trip and pick somewhere not too far away to keep costs down. That’s how I do it.

Just make sure you don’t let anyone talk you into taking them with you. This is your trip! Look at your local train lines and bus services and see if they go to a place you have never been, this way you get to bask in anonymity which can be very rewarding.

I tend to pick medium sized towns where it is possible to walk around all day. I also don’t tend to bother with maps once I am there. Just wondering out of a train station into the unknown can be a great way to explore a new place. You can always ask somebody if you get lost.

 

The Motivation:
Make sure to set your objectives before you travel. Ask yourself why you are going to your chosen destination. What are you hoping to find? Is it peace and quiet or are you trying to stimulate your senses by mingling with lots of people in a busy crowd?

Bear in mind that it is possible to find peace amongst a crowd, too. I often seek out busy places to think. Last weekend I chose a busy café to sort out my plans for self-hosting my blog. There were children crying, parents shouting, friends laughing together, business-type people having serious conversations and (of course) some background music.

All the voices came together and formed an unintelligible hubbub – a strangely soothing sound –which allowed me to get into that zone where I can focus best. Of course this doesn’t work for everybody. Some people need silence to concentrate and that’s fine, too. You need to figure out what works best for you.

 

On Location:
Ok, so you know your objectives and have an idea of what you want to achieve. Great! Then you get to your chosen location and…

I will admit that just hopping off a train or bus in a place you don’t now can be daunting. That’s exactly the feeling I had on my recent day-trip to Shrewsbury. Don’t let that discourage you. Just pay attention to what you are attracted to.

For example, if you see a nice building find out what it is and whether you can explore it. If you see an interesting bookshop, have a look around in there. Maybe you’ll find your inspiration between a pair of (dusty?) book covers…

In The End:
Whatever you decide to do. Whether you are going away for a day, a weekend or a whole week, if you stay true to yourself and stick with what you are attracted to, you are almost certainly going to find your muse.

This only works when travelling alone as you cannot expect to focus on what you want to do (and see) if you have friends or family nagging at you all day. Realise that you are worth taking a time-out to fuel your creativity – no compromises allowed.

Every once in a while you are allowed to be selfish and it will make you a much better person to be around when you do spend time with other people. Don’t you think?

Until next time,
C xx

Are you suffering from creative anxiety?

We want to create, but we also don’t want to create so as to spare ourselves all this anxiety.
~ Eric Maisel PhD

Do you find yourself willing, yet unable, to create? Do you start many projects and never get them finished or do you have hundreds of great ideas in your head without being able to turn them into reality? If the answer to these questions is ‘yes’ you might be suffering from creative anxiety.

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Tweet: Is your creative block a sign that you are suffering from #anxiety? http://ctt.ec/3Nz41+

Personally, I have lost count of how many times I have sat down in front of a desk with the intention to get something done, only to give up several hours later. When writing, words wouldn’t come and when crafting, no combination of materials, colours and patterns would look right to me. I spent years trying to figure out my perceived ’creative block’.

Wallowing in frustration, I tried every trick known to man (and woman) to make the block disappear.  Eventually I figured it out. There was no block. It was anxiety. As soon as I realised that internal fears were holding me back, it became possible to address the real problem.

‘What fears?’ I hear you ask. I have a feeling you already know the answer. When it comes down to it, we all live in fear. There is fear of not being good enough, fear of failure, fear of embarrassing yourself, fear of disappointing somebody; the list goes on and on. Often people are unaware of just how affected they are by such fears. I know I was.

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A book that I found helpful in understanding my own problem was Mastering Creative Anxiety: 24 Lessons for Writers, Painter, Musicians, and Actors from America’s Foremost Creativity Coach by Eric Maisel. Addressing issues such as identity, choosing the creative life, surviving your day job, promotion, failure, success, compromise and procrastination, this book does a great job of breaking anxiety down into specific fears which makes the overall issue much more manageable.

Of course there are serious anxiety disorders that cannot be resolved by reading self-help books. If you are suspecting that the anxiety you are experiencing is beyond what is described here, you should definitely get some more information and seek professional help.

Thinking about anxiety as a basic part of the human condition that can manifest itself as a constant state of worry (in its milder forms), it is no wonder that creative people are so susceptible to it. After all we are perfectionists with great visions for the future and accomplished self-critics, right? A famous example is Vincent van Gogh who suffered from multiple mental health problems and documented his anxiety in his letters.

According to the blog Lifehack.org, there are 10 common things you can do to stifle your creativity. Reading this article, I found myself guilty of at least 3 of the listed behaviours – especially the one about the ‘time is money’ mentality. So, tell me, do you suffer from creative anxiety too and are you ready to stop sabotaging yourself?

Until next time,
C xx

 

How to save money and unclutter your life

Upcycling is steadily becoming more and more popular amongst artists and designer-makers. For good reason. Upcycling is an effective way to save money whilst doing your bit for the environment and keeping your home tidy. No matter what type of creative project you’re planning, whether it’s sewing, painting, quilting, card making, knitting or decorating, I bet you can find at least 50% of the materials you need in your own home.

Tweet: Take something old and make it new! Start saving money on art and craft materials now! http://bit.ly/1lqtbF2

Is there an old jumper that could be unravelled? Do you have stacks of old magazines sitting in a box? Full of glossy pictures and advertising, these can be a true goldmine for paper collage and decoupage projects. What about old socks, t-shirts and jeans? There are probably some of those hiding at the back of your wardrobe. For example, I transformed an old pair of jeans into a draught-excluder last winter. Stuffed with old socks, it didn’t cost me a dime, looks good and it’s keeping me cosy – bonus! If you have small amounts of different coloured wool or cotton yarn, all you need is a crochet hook to create an attractive granny square cushion cover.

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Is there a birthday party coming up? Is one of your work colleagues due to go on maternity leave? Are you super-organised and have already planned whom to send a Christmas card this year? No matter what the occasion, handmade greeting cards can be the answer. You could use leftover cards from multi-packs as a basis for your own cards which will also save you time. Ribbons, colourful paper strips, cardboard shapes and simple stamps will soon transform your old cards into personalised, attractive masterpieces. If you are lacking inspiration, there are hundreds of projects to be found on the internet. One of my favourite sites to get ideas for upcycling projects is Upcycle That because this site provides interesting and useful ideas for upcycling projects which are categorised by material including glass, wood, paper, plastic, wax and rubber. Upcycle That also provides an inspiration tab including large scale upcycling projects such as Junk Kouture and Old Tyre Sculptures .

If you are a self-employed artist looking for funding or a residency you could consider upcycling to sell your project idea to the gallery, arts centre or funder you are looking to impress. At a time when recycling and waste control are at the forefront of media attention and public awareness using old materials to create something new whilst reducing waste in the process could make a great elevator pitch. Don’t you think?

Until next time,

Cxx