The Struggle to Pursue Creativity

The Struggle to Pursue Creativity | RevamperateEver since I was a kid, my parents have told me how creative I am. I was very lucky to have that support. To this day, my parents still tell the story of the Thanksgiving I made myself a turkey costume out of paper as if it were my greatest achievement. They’ve always told me how impressed they were by the things I made. Most people don’t have that kind of creative support, but I did. 

This post has been a long time coming as I’ve been trying to find exactly what to say, but I think it’s time to share. I come from a family of creative people. My mom and sister can make just about anything, and each have their own style and their own specific talents. For my mom, that is sewing and cake pops. For my sister, that is cake decorating among many other talents. My dad is a talented woodworker. Creativity was always important to me, and it still is. The problem with creativity is that we generally grow up being told that being an “artist” is not a “real job.” I thought of my creative side as a hobby, not something I could do forever, because I always learned that being creative wasn’t a job. 

I was wrong. 

I grew up knowing that I wanted to go to college and be successful. To me, success meant getting my degree and becoming a businesswoman in a big office building. I changed my mind about what I wanted to be for years. First, I wanted to be a vet, then a teacher, then a movie director, a journalist and eventually I landed on public relations and marketing, hoping that it was versatile and would combine all of my interests. Ultimately, I just wanted to be successful in the only way I knew how. I jumped in and I’ve learned so much on the job that I never learned in school, and the experience of working in marketing for an IT company over the past almost-two years has taught me a lot about marketing my own blog and even marketing myself. 

Now I’m 24 years old and working in marketing like I wanted, but I’ve realized that I wanted more. 

Bloggers and businesswomen like Elsie and Emma of A Beautiful Mess, Kelly of Studio DIY, Ashley of Sugar & Cloth and Sam of Aww Sam have taught me that you don’t have to work in a big cubicle-lined office building to be a successful businesswoman. Over the past two years of running this blog, I’ve realized how much my dreams have changed. Watching the women behind such successful blogs play the roles of creative blogger and businesswoman have taught me that it is possible to make a living as an artist and be truly successful as a creator. These bloggers showed me the new age of businesswomen and are the reason I’ve treated Revamperate like my real job. Dress for the job you want, right? 

I feel like pursuing creativity is a constant struggle because the little voice in me wants to play it safe and the rest of me wants to do what I love and throw myself into it, but I’m too logical to make a snap decision like that. For as long as I can remember, I’ve played life safe. I save instead of spend and I make decisions based on what I think I “should do.” It’s worked for me so far. I’m very lucky that at my age I have a degree, a full time job and a cushy savings account, and it’s not easy to stray from my safe way of living.

I originally started Revamperate as a school project, and I kept with it because I thought it would be fun. I didn’t set out to create a business or anything. Over time, I realized that I was making stuff anyway, so why not publish it online and share it with others? As I began to post more and more often, I decided to do more research on blogging and make mine look more professional. Over time, Revamperate became so much more than a hobby for me – it became my passion and my side job. Well, it’s the side job I don’t get paid for, except for the rare occasions a great opportunity comes along. 

I titled this post “The Struggle to Pursue Creativity” because I spend a lot of time thinking about the blog and dreaming about what to do next instead of actually pursuing anything. What I really want is to be my own boss and start a real business sharing my ideas with anyone who will listen, and one day I want to be an author and a blogger and a business owner and make cupcakes all day, but it’s not easy to take that leap. Right now, I feel sort of stuck and it’s hard to move past it. 

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my life, it’s that nothing happens overnight. I think my dad’s favorite lesson is “practice, practice, practice.” I know he’s right, but man, it sucks. It takes a long time to get anywhere when you’re taking baby steps. 

What do you think? What are your goals? Do you ever have the same struggle to pursue creativity?

Real Talk: Balancing Blogging and a Full Time Job

Balancing Blogging and a Full-Time Job | RevamperateIf you’ve spent any time reading my blog before today, you may have noticed that while I do try to blog consistently, I actually have a full-time job outside of Revamperate. For the past year or so, I have struggled with balancing blogging and full time job, and I assume that there are many other people out there struggling through the same thing. Once upon a time, I was working 10 hour days at work, plus sitting in traffic each way, and still struggling to make things and write about them after work. I was completely exhausted and questioned why I even bothered doing all of this work for a website that no one but my mom read. As my dad always says, “practice, practice, practice.”

I always say that Revamperate is the job I don’t get paid for but it’s the job I love, and that’s mostly true. Revamperate is continuously growing and I’m happy to have begun developing partnerships and displaying ads to help supplement the work I do behind the scenes. It makes it easier to justify all of the time that I dedicate to making my blog a website that people want to visit, but it’s still far from being a high paying gig. Luckily, I don’t care because I have another job to pay the bills. Today, I just wanted to take some time to share WHY I do what I do, but also HOW I do what I do in case you’re in the same boat. Also, I want to hear how YOU do it! Please share your blogging experience in the comments. 

Time is your friend and your enemy. 

Honestly, I can tell you that I dedicate at least 1-3 hours a day during the week and at least 5-6 hours on weekends to Revamperate, and that includes more than just projects and posts, like social media and answering emails. It’s time consuming, but I love it. Revamperate is a place for me to express myself and share the things I love with whoever might care, and when I started this blog as a hobby on WordPress.com with my iPhone camera and a barely-working hand mixer, I never thought that I would get to where I am now. 

My brain is always on, so I use my “wasted time,” like driving, showering or lunch breaks, thinking about what to do next. I try to make the most of out of the time in a day by taking advantage of those brief moments when I can’t do anything else, and sitting in traffic for 2+ hours a day is great place to start. It’s the perfect time to brainstorm. 

I plan my posts for Revamperate weeks in advance – I had my Halloween projects done three weeks ahead of time and I’m already thinking about Christmas. The days when I would plan, make, photograph and write a post all in one night after work were slowly killing me. I did it this way for months before I finally realized that stressing about those projects made them a lot less fun. That’s when I installed the WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin that let me plan what I wanted to make and choose how to spread everything out. I’m a planner to my core, so this plugin saved my life a little, but especially my sanity. 

Learn to be a planner. 

If you don’t consider yourself the planning type, now is a good time to start. To minimize my mistakes, I usually plan and write out posts before I stop to actually make anything. Otherwise, I end up with a half finished project that I suddenly realize didn’t make any sense. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve done that, like the time I made this copper pipe magazine rack and glued all my pipes together before realizing I forgot to add the fabric that actually held the magazines. Oops. It happens more than you’d think. 

Then again, the whole point of being a DIY and baking blogger is to make mistakes so that your readers don’t have to, even if that means making things several times to get it right. I see what I do wrong and then tell you guys what you SHOULD do based on what I learned. 

Do yourself a favor and plan ahead whenever possible. Sometimes I do things on a whim just because I have a random idea and time to run with it, which was the case with these DIY tassel earrings and quite a few of my baking projects, but planning projects before you make them will help you save time and reduce the stress of projects that just don’t work out. I get really upset whenever I have to scrap something, but it happens.

Develop a routine. 

Just like you get ready in the morning or prepare for bed, a routine will keep you on track. After I began using my calendar plugin, it was easier for me to plan my 3-4 posts a week. Set a time to respond to emails, and schedule any other work (social media, research, etc.) that needs to be done for your blog. I tend to do a few projects or recipes over the course of a week, take photos each time and then wait until I have 2-3 projects saved up before editing them all in one batch. I find that easier, but everyone works differently, of course. 

Now I can look ahead at what I’ve planned two weeks from now and start gathering materials, writing the post and doing the project. I can spread things out over a few days to lessen stress and still finish with plenty of time before the post is actually scheduled. Plus, this leaves room for making mistakes if you need to plan a different project or replace materials. 

It gets easier. 

Time management is still time consuming, but after you’ve been blogging for a while, I’ve found that it does get easier. Now that I’ve learned to control my time better and developed a routine, I’m still a blogoholic but I feel significantly less stressed out. When I come home after a long day at work, it’s OK if I don’t have the energy to make something because I’m always 1-2 weeks ahead and I know that taking a day off won’t affect my schedule. I live by a certain mantra: your mental health will always be more important than work. While that may not be for everyone, I really value my mental health, which means making sure I always get enough sleep and take breaks when I need to.

Know your limits. Learn what works best for you and make time to do what you love, even if it means cutting back on your number of posts or the complexity of your projects. 

The moral of the story is it’s possible to be both a full-time employee and an avid blogger. One day, maybe they can even be one in the same (fingers crossed)! I’ve been doing it consistently for at least a year now, and it gets easier and easier as I learn my own style, develop a routine and learn to manage my time better. The bigger you get, the more time it takes up, but it’s all for the best if blogging is what you love. 

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