Why Creative People Need Connection

Welcome to Good Enough Creative, a podcast for creative people.

Hi again, welcome back. I’m your host, Marie Greene, and today’s episode is all about connection.

You know that feeling when you meet a kindred spirit? Someone who just GETS YOU. It’s more than sharing similar interests – there’s something wonderful that happens when people come together for a shared purpose.

Making connections with other people helps us feel that we’re part of something larger than ourselves. And more than that, it provides opportunities for sharing ideas. What starts as a seedling in one person’s mind, can become a forest of possibilities when it’s shared.

But so many aspects of creativity are solo, and the creative life can get pretty lonely if we don’t actively seek out opportunities to make those connections with others.

Quilting bees are a perfect example of coming together in community. They were the perfect place for women to connect, share their personal experiences, and support each other – all while keeping their hands busy on a quilt. There’s a level of support that you can bring to – and draw from – the people in your circle. There’s nothing else like it.

But today, more of us are experiencing isolation and loneliness than ever before. In this increasingly tech-driven world, we often lack those opportunities for genuine connection. The CDC says that one in three people over the age of 45 in the U.S. is lonely. Isn’t it surprising that we have more ways to connect than ever before, and yet so few of those connections bring real meaning to our lives?

As an introvert, I often forget how much I need other people. Big groups and loud conventions can really drain my social battery. I love my “alone time” but when I gather with my people – whether it’s one other person or a small group – I come away with my cup full. I am inspired. I have new ideas. And I genuinely feel more hopeful.

We know that meaningful connection is good for our mental and physical health, but how can connection benefit us creatively?

Today I want to share 5 Reasons that Creative People Need Connection.

  1. Creativity doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Ideas are always around us – I like to imagine them sort of floating in the air, except that so often we’re not paying attention, don’t hear their whispers and don’t recognize when they’re trying to get our attention. When we connect with other people, it’s like we’re swimming in the same pool of ideas (that sounds a little gross now that I think about it – but let’s go with it) – sometimes when one person plucks an idea from the ethers and voices it, everyone’s creativity catches fire. Sometimes I don’t realize that I already have the idea I’m looking for until I hear myself say it out loud to someone else. Or maybe someone else said the very thing I needed hear for that idea to come into form. I can’t tell you how often someone else said what I needed to hear, right when I needed to hear it. And if I hadn’t chosen to make that connection, I would have missed it. How often are we missing inspiration because we’re not connecting with other people. Those connections are magnetic, and ideas are drawn to our energy when we gather.
  2. We know we’re not alone. Have you heard that one way to become a better writer is to become a better reader? I think that’s true to a degree, but you know what else is true? To become a better writer, spend time with other writers. When we gather with others who share our interests or similar goals we have the opportunity to gain momentum together. We can share experiences and learn from each other. But more than that – we have the opportunity to see and be seen. It’s affirming to hear someone else say, hey – I’ve dealt with that rejection. I’ve dealt with that failure. I’ve had those struggles. I’ve had those same doubts. When we connect with other people and we recognize our own experiences in them, we come away feeling encouraged and hopeful. We recognize that if they can overcome those challenges, so can we. And better still, when we connect with someone who is a little further down the road than we are, they can shine a light forward so that we have a better idea of what’s ahead. 
  3. We’re here to learn. I love reading stories of people who decide to go back to college late in life. I read a quote one time, and for the life of me, I can’t find it. But it was from an interview with a student who decided to go back and get her degree in her 80’s or 90’s. And when asked why she would go back to school so late in life, she replied that she still hadn’t learned everything there was to learn yet. We can learn by ourselves, of course we can. But when we learn with others, we take so much more away from that experience. And we have the opportunity to inspire others, too. When you can join a club, take a class, sign up to be part of a creative community, and then – actively show up. Ask questions. Be a lifelong learner. And be open to share what you’ve learned, too. There is a give and take – a natural flow and rhythm – to the creative experience, and we are always learning. When we think we’ve learned everything there is to know, we stop growing. And by connecting with others and being part of a community that’s committed to learning, everyone benefits. You learn not only what you came for, but so much more – because each of us brings our own experiences to that classroom, whether it’s the library, or the home of a friend, or an art studio, or your knitting club.  
  4. Connection helps us overcome doubt. We are surrounded by imaginary experiences and stories and lives. They’re on Instagram and Pinterest and in our Facebook feeds. We see curated photos and videos of people who seem to be living their best lives all the time. And they definitely seem to know what they’re doing. But those are surface stories – they’re not what’s underneath. True connection is being able to be yourself, to be imperfect, to not always have it figured out. It can be tough to overcome self-doubt and imposter syndrome, and so many of the other challenges that are very common for creative people. Through connection with others, we learn that we’re not alone. Every time you show up with bravery, you give someone else permission to do the same thing. I recently heard an author say, no one knows anything. And you know what? He’s right. Everyone seems like they know what they’re doing, and it’s only when you get to know them that you realize – no one really knows. Everybody’s just winging it. Even the people in charge. Even the people who definitely should know! We don’t show up and live our best creative lives because we have it all figure out or know exactly what we’re doing – because guess what? Nobody does. We just show up anyway. And that’s why connection matters – when we’re isolated, all we know is what we see on the surface. Connection helps us overcome the doubts that might otherwise keep us stuck.
  5. Last but not least, connection helps us recognize experiences that are different from our own. My husband and I always joke about medical scenes in TV shows. He’s a nurse, and he likes to point out when the patient has a urinary catheter coming out of their nose instead of an oxygen tube. And you can tell that whoever was responsible for the props on set hadn’t spent enough time with someone who knows about the subject. And while that’s a silly example, it does illustrate the point that we don’t know what we don’t know. Spending time in creative spaces with other people can make us more aware of experiences that are different from our own. This can help us be more empathetic, more innovative in the art we make, and more mindful of how we move through the world with others.

Connection creates purpose – and purpose inspires connection.

As I wrap up today’s episode I want to share two quick things. First, if you are a knitter and you’re looking for YOUR community, you are welcome at Knit Camp. It’s a virtual creative community led by yours truly that is filled with encouragement, friendship, learning and laughter. You can learn more about Knit Camp at OliveKnits.com or at the link in the show notes, or just visit the App Store and search Knit Camp.

Second, starting tomorrow, February 1st I’m challenging myself to a daily podcast-athon. I’ll be sharing daily episodes all month long, with 5 free weekly episodes and 2 bonus for premium subscribers. Wish me luck – and I look forward to seeing you there. Thank you for being part of MY creative community!

Until next time, my friend – you’ve got this.

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