As creatives, there has always been someone who came before us. Someone who can tell us the right way of doing things, people to glance at as you set out to do your own creative work.
That is all and well, we need guidance when we’re learning. But if we follow others’ methods too closely, it can lead us astray, to something you might not like doing at all.
You might decide it’s not your thing, when in fact you’ve just not found your version yet.
That’s what I did with Pinterest, and it’s an excellent example of how finding the right fit changes everything.
From hating to loving my blog’s Pinterest account
About two years ago, I created a Pinterest account connected to my website. If you have a blog or an online shop, you’ve probably heard the advice to use Pinterest to drive traffic, and I had too.
I’ve used Pinterest privately for many years, to discover my own taste in clothes, interiors and haircuts, or to visualize aspects of my novel. But I had never used it to save articles.
Back then, I hadn’t yet discovered the slow living bloggers and creators that now make up most of the people I follow online, and I thought a blog account should consist of just tips and articles.
So a lot of what I ended up saving to my account were colourful quotes about creativity and loud how-to articles, those who pretend to have all the answers.
And I detested it.
I had created an account that looked the way I thought it was supposed to look, disregarding what kind of accounts I myself enjoyed, and what I wanted to create.
I tried to stick with pinning for a while, but while I loved my private Pinterest feed, I hated the one I had created for my blog. So after a few weeks, I decided that the problem was that I didn’t like to use Pinterest to save blog posts and gave up on it.
The problem, of course, wasn’t saving articles, but that I wasn’t interested in reading a single one of those I had saved.
I wish I had understood it back then, but I didn’t.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, to the moment when I suddenly had an urge to give Pinterest a new chance. I’d seen the accounts of slow living creatives I adore, and they were something completely different. Something I might love.
They had a mix of inspiring, beautiful pictures and interesting articles. Like a pretty, well-curated lifestyle magazine. I liked that idea.
So I opened my notebook and asked myself a question:
What would make me love it?
And I filled that page with ideas that went beyond what I had thought to be acceptable for a blog account.
Seasons. Clothes. Gardening. Interiors. Photography. Books. Tea. Stories.
When I started pinning articles I found myself saving them because I actually wanted to read them, as well as share them. My feed became an eclectic mix of articles about simple living, photos of steaming teacups, tips about planning your days and shelves heavy with plants.
And I loved it.
I loved that it gave my writing a broader context, with subjects I might not write about but that I loved reading. A broader field I was happy to belong to.
Changing my account completely altered my experience. I went from not being able to stand using it, to going in daily because I like it so much. That’s the power of listening to what you yourself want.
Finding the version you’ll love
Pinterest is merely an example of something I think all fall prey to now and then. We create in ways that doesn’t fit us because we think it’s the “right way”, whether it’s writing blog posts, choosing what to put in our Instagram feeds or marketing our creations.
It can be hard to imagine a different way if we only see one version. But if something doesn’t feel good, we need to ask ourselves if it’s really the way that is right for us.
Here are some questions that can be helpful to explore what needs to change:
What is it I dislike about the way I’m doing it now?
What are the rules I think I have to follow and how can I challenge them?
Can I find an alternative way that might fit me better?
What would make me love doing it?
I think we sometimes believe we just have to push through if we dislike a certain part of our work. That we need to suck it up and just do it. But that method is usually not very effective, especially not if it involves creating. More likely you’ll end up quitting on it.
Instead, seek the way you’ll truly enjoy. Challenge yourself. It might just change your whole experience.