Awake at the Wheel

Exploring the intersection between work, play, and the creative process.

Go Public With Your Bad Self?

Yeah, that thing. Your art.

You know that thing you’ve been saying you want to do but haven’t been doing because you’re not good enough to do it in public and you’re terrified of being judged?

Yeah, that thing. Your art. The one that’s so closely-aligned with the fiber of your being that it’d really hurt if people didn’t like it.

Well, what if you took a different approach? What if, like Taylor Guitars founder, Bob Taylor, you committed to making more bad stuff in the name of getting to the good stuff faster? What if, gulp, instead of iterating from junk to genius in the shadows, you did it in full view of the world?

What if, in fact, you announced to the world, “I’m going to learn something new, and I’m going to share it with you every day. And right now, I’m really bad at it, because I’m just beginning, so it’s supposed to be that way. But, I’m still going to show up, to practice, to create every single day and, no matter how good or bad it is, I’m going to share it with you. Because that’s how I’m going to go from crap to craft and I need to be accountable to you to ensure I am prolific enough to get there as fast as possible.”

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What do you think might happen?

Yes, at first, you may well freak out. But, here’s the thing. We all suck in the beginning. We’re SUPPOSED to suck (with the rare exception of that freakish apriori artist savant friend we all love to hate to love).

The thing that gets us from there to “Sweet Mother of God, YOU made that?!” is practice. Beginner’s mind. Being massively prolific, even if what we create on any given day is really, really bad. That, and having the vision of where we want to get to, the will to do the work, the faith that our efforts will yield progress and the sense of humor needed to forgive ourselves and be vulnerable along the way.

My guest on Good Life Project this week, artist, illustrator and author, Lisa Congdon, is an amazing example of the power of this approach.

Lisa had developed a mad-passion for curating intimate collections of stuff and she sensed there was an artform behind it. So, in 2010, she announced to the world – aka the interwebs – that she was going to create, photograph and post one collection a day. The early days saw some fumbling as she figured things out, but she got better and better at finding, curating, positioning and photographing the collections over time. She’d made a commitment to share a collection a day for a year, so the world was her accountability partner. And, day-by-day, it also became her fan base.

That project then turned into a successful book. And, by the way, one of the most popular collection was a roundup of baby doll hands.

Lisa took 2011 off, but then mounted a new quest in 2012. She wanted to learn how to hand-letter, more specifically, she wanted to learn how to write calligraphy. So, she announced that she’d create one hand-lettered work a day and share it online. Again, she knew the only way to get better was to do a ton of work, one a day, and have thousands of people online hold her accountable to that goal.

By the end of the first month, she came to learn she hated calligraphy. BUT, she also began to create her own hand-lettering form. She was having a blast and starting to get really good, hand-lettering quotes, mixing it with illustrations. It took months of daily practice, but that’s the point.

When it comes to bridging the gap between ick and art, volume matters. Click to tweet

By the end of 2012, her hand-lettering had gotten really good and she’d developed a style that was all her own. And along with that came a second book deal, featuring her hand-lettering illustrations.

And, here’s the really cool back story…Lisa came to art later in life. She never identified as an artist as a kid. Which is yet another reason her story is so inspiring. Because there are so many people out there who’ve buried their creative Jones because they either believe it’s too late or they’ll never be good enough.

Watch Lisa’s episode now:

She’s incredibly generous with her story, her wisdom, and her journey. If you’d rather listen to the mp3, just head on over to GoodLifeProject.com, sign up for updates and you’ll get instant access to the mp3 vault.

And, once you’re done, start making bad stuff every day. Announce your intention to the world and share it along the way. Because that’s the fastest path to the good stuff.

With gratitude,

Jonathan

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Jonathan Fields is a serial-entrepreneur, business strategist, speaker and author. His latest book is Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt Into Fuel For Brilliance. Fields writes about performance-mindset, innovation, leading and entrepreneurship at JonathanFields.com


Jonathan Fields is an attorney turned lifestyle-entrepreneur, speaker, and author of Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt Into Fuel For Brilliance.

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