10 things I have learned from year one of Keeping Curious
Since the early beginnings of an idea in 2016, to the actual recording of a podcast in 2017, it has been an incredible journey so far. This month marks the official one year anniversary of Keeping Curious the podcast to explore different routes to creative living. There are a lot of life lessons I have learnt through my various conversations so I thought I would share my takeaways after a year of talking to other creative people about their journey’s while simultaneously trying to navigate my own way back to a more creatively filled life.
1. It is hard to stay curious and engaged in a world of distractions.
This one is a big one, I hoped when I started the podcast that by talking to people I find inspiring that I would be able to tap into a creative energy that would feed my own creative practice and in many ways it has been but this burst of energy only lasts so long at least for me anyway. There is always a chore to do or a youtube video (or ten) to watch. My ideal self recognises the importance of time and doesn’t waste a single second- instead filling every moment with learning and creativity- the reality is, lets say a little different. Talking to others and reflecting on my own journey shows that often creativity is a discipline and its not always the easier road. There will always be distractions. Whilst the act of being creative can be extremely liberating and enjoyable it’s a bit like sex…sometimes you’re not in the mood. You have to remind yourself how good it is to get yourself going again but when you’re in the zone there is nothing quite like it. Sorry if that’s TMI I’ve just had a girly weekend.
2. Everyone has an interesting story to tell
I have enjoyed every single one of the conversations I have had because even when you think you know someone there is always something to uncover. I have never really understood celebrity culture, I don’t see why some people are valued more than others. Everyone is a unique collage of random experiences, coincidences, joy and pain. It’s a beautiful cocktail. Going into the next year of Keeping Curious I hope to share more stories of my everyday heroes. They may not ever be mentioned on the front of TIME magazine, have TV shows or be recognised in the street. This does not matter to me. Anyone who dedicates their life to the pursuit of creation in whatever form is worth talking to and I make it my mission to share their stories to inspire you to create too.
3. Listening is the best skill to develop to keep curious
I have always considered myself to be a good listener. I am one of life’s observers. I sit in the background and watch. I listen to the meaning between the words. I like to conduct my interviews face to face as listening isn’t just with your ears. I know that sounds weird but its about really tuning into what someone is saying or sometimes more importantly what they are not. This allows me to pick up on threads that leads the conversation into unchartered territory- the most exciting place to be.
4. You never know until you ask
I guess my biggest surprise of doing the podcast is so far I have not been rejected much. Most people are keen to share their stories and are delighted to be asked. I started by asking friends but quickly I plucked up the courage to ask strangers and it has just been an opportunity to make new friends. Basically there is no us and them. Its just us- don’t be put off by a fancy website if your interested in someone’s work let them know because on the other side of the email is a real human just like you that maybe is just a little further down the road from where you are. Share the love. Tell people you like their work and even better share it. We all need support and appreciate the recognition of our efforts.
5. Everyone is connected
Similar to the above it has been amazing to hear the links between people too. My friend Sally (ep 5) tagged me into a planner on facebook that she thought I might like. That turned out to be the fabulous Kerry Lyons (ep 7) and in our conversation in the custard factory we spoke about how she had a bakery studio opposite that did amazingly tempting cakes. I then met Rebecca Chitty (ep 9) completely unrelated at a wedding fair and she became guest after realising I had met Kerry who she had a studio next to in the custard factory. It really is a small world and it only takes a couple of questions to find the links.
6. We all fail/struggle/ flail and there’s no avoiding it
When I was younger I did everything I could not to make a wrong move. I analysed, practiced, reflected, pondered, observed trying to do everything I could to not make a mistake. As I get older, I learn more and more about how important it is to fail. We must fail, BUT when we do just we must try to fall forwards. Learn what we can from our mistakes and try to only make new ones moving forwards. This applies to life as much as it does to creative pursuits but I personally still struggle with both. It has been great to talk to other creatives about their journey’s and how it wasn’t all plain sailing even when everything seems just peachy now. Everyone struggles and you need to come out bruised and battered to be stronger and triumphant when things do go your way- because as much as failure is an inevitability so is success. It just might not look like what you set out to achieve- it might be better!
7. The work is not always enjoyable
This one has been reassuring for me at least because there are days that I flick through my Instagram at peoples accounts that seem to churn out perfection day after day and in my darkest hours I just feel like nope, that is them and I am me and I can’t do that. Sometimes its not fun. Sometimes it’s a battle. Sometimes everything seems like a better idea than to finish what you started because its boring. You have to work through this. It is a labour of love and so you have to go through the difficult and painful part of labour to love it. Its not always this way but sometimes it is and that’s ok- hang in there and do the work. Sit in the chair.
8. There is no one right path to follow and it will NEVER be straightforward
Its nice to think that when you start you can go in a nice linear trajectory to get from A to B. Its logical. Its neat. But life isn’t logical and it certainly isn’t neat. Talking to the many creatives I have spoken with so far it has been clear that there isn’t one path. Everyone gets to where they are differently. I wanted Keeping Curious to not show those that are starting out or stuck a road map to creative freedom where they can plot where they are and where they want to be and follow it nicely. I wanted to show that there really is no map. It is pointless having a plan. All you can do is put one foot in front of the other in what feels like the right direction. Time will tell if it was the right step but the best part of not having a map is that at any point you can do a 360 and go in a completely different direction. Listen to others journey’s but don’t expect that if you follow their footsteps you will get the same results- you wont. Trust your gut, do the work and be consistent the rest will figure itself out.
9. You get what you set
Ok, I know this sounds hypocritical given my last point about not having a map BUT I do think it is important to have a general sense of direction. There are mixed messages about planning, some see it as a useful tool, many see it as a procrastination method away from the actual work. I have certainly used it to waste many a productive hour in the past. That said I think there is immense value in small goal setting. Wake up with intention and go to bed with reflection. Don’t be too hard on yourself but renew each day with a new purpose and you will soon get what you set out to achieve and hopefully the whole journey will be a lot less overwhelming.
10. Be open to new interests- follow the joy
The name keeping curious took a while to come up with. I wanted to create a non prescriptive platform for creatives to share stories. I am interested in art but I wanted a poet or a musician to get equal value too. When I was at my lowest, when I felt abandoned by my creativity it really was my curiosity that got me through. I needed to incorporate learning into my everyday routine and it wasn’t long until ideas came flooding in. I had to learn to give up my notion of who I should be and what I should be interested in and instead listen to myself, take note when my heart skipped a beat and follow that. This realisation made me realise how much I missed working with my hands. I love sculpture. I love old books and overfilled museums. I love being in nature and not so much in cities. I love my romantic vision of the past and in particular the French revolution. I love musicals and burlesque. I love quiet and seaside reflections. I love watching clouds in the day and stars at night. I love learning about the brain and how we think it works. For now I’m following these loves- until the next time my heart tells me to follow something else.