Friday, October 22, 2010

Guest Post: April Bowles-Olin of Blacksburg Belle

Photo by Teri H. Hoover
Today I am happy to share a guest post by April Bowles-Olin of Blacksburg Belle. My first ever guest post!
I hope you enjoy April's thoughtful post.

The Importance of Following Your Creative Whispers

Everyone experiences creative whispers. It might be that prickly feeling that rises up your arms each time you think about learning how to paint or that curious sensation you get when you consider writing fiction.

Your whisper might be telling you to purchase that camera and take photographs as a hobby. It doesn't have to be a life or career changing urge.

The whispers pop up regularly, urging us to pursue our dreams. But, many times we don't listen.

Why? Because everyone also has an inner critic. The voice in your head that says, "You couldn't possibly paint anything anyone would want to look at, much less buy. Who do you think you are?"

Learning to follow your whispers is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

My Journey

The first time I heard about the idea of "creative whispers" was in Kelly Rae Robert's book, Taking Flight, but as soon as I read about the idea I completely understood what she meant.

I've always had the creative bug. I used sit and draw for hours as a child, I learned to sew and make my own clothes in college, and I moved on to making jewelry and scrapbooking during my time in graduate school. I never thought I could make a living from my creative passions, so I went to what I thought was the next best thing.

I got a master's degree in social work, and I practiced individual and family therapy with at-risk adolescents. I loved it. Unfortunately, I could never figure out how to turn off my "social work self" when I was away from the job. Those teens were always on my mind, and it took a large toll on me physically and emotionally.

My husband and I decided we wanted to move back to Virginia to be with friends and family, so I had to leave my job as a therapist in Brooklyn. That's when I took some time to decide what I wanted to do next. Over the next few months, I started listening to my creative whispers more and more. But, I also had that inner critic telling me that it wouldn't be possible to make money selling art and jewelry--that I needed to find another safe job with benefits.

I took a lot of long walks where I just listened to my body. It was telling me that it was now or never. I needed to pursue my creative passions.

Thankfully, I followed my whispers, even though I was terrified.

How To Follow Your Own Whispers

Start listening. The first step in following your own creative whispers is to be open to the idea.

When you walk past the books on mixed media in your local bookstore and your heart beats a little faster, it's a whisper. Pick one up, find a project that speaks to you, and have some fun.

The second step entails pushing past your inner critic. Whenever you start something new, your inner critic will try to pop up and try to ruin it. He'll laugh at your first attempt to knit a scarf. He'll mock your idea for your novel. You have to be brave enough to tell your inner critic to butt out.

Follow your gut feeling. When you're creating, your body will lead the way if you allow it. When you think about working at the day job you despise for the rest of your life, you might feel nauseous, sad, or angry. But, your gut might also tell you that you can't quit your day job until you pay off your debts and save some money. That's when you take baby steps.

Here's the thing about creative dreams: you'll usually be worse off if you never try. Ask yourself these two questions:

1. What's the worse that could happen if I follow this creative whisper?

2. What's the worse that could happen if I never follow this creative whisper?

Usually, the answer to the second question is much worse than the answer to the first, and really--that's your answer.

April Bowles-Olin works with creative women to lead more fulfilling lives while they make money doing it. She also attempts to add a little prettiness to the world with her art and jewelry. You can learn more about her at Blacksburg Belle and connect with her on Twitter @blacksburgbelle.


April said...

Thanks for having me Dana :)

AG Ambroult said...

April's words just gave me more reasons to feel good about my own decisions. Awesome post.

Lori said...

I follow April on twitter- she's great. Thanks for the interview!