Yesterday I signed up for NaNoWriMo, as a rebel, of course. Purple Sheep are the exception, rather than the rule and the road less travelled must entail doing what other’s aren’t, no? During November, I am a NaNoWriMo rebel because:
I am writing nonfiction.
I am working on improving my blog posts, writing an ebook, and working on my passion.
I am polishing as I go.
NaNoWriMo is about getting 50,000 words of green copy from your heart to the page or computer. But I am writing and publishing as I go, so that means editing as well. “50,000 words? That sounds like a lot”, you say. Actually, I’m probably already writing at least that much every month, but its nice to keep track at least once. I think if I can write 50,000 words in a month, then I can write a book, too. And that’s the theory behind National Novel Writing Month. Most of the 30,000 participants are writing rough draft novels — many are rebels, like me.
Is writing my passion? I’m not sure. I’ve been writing since I was 7, and my first really wonderful jobs were writing jobs. Then I took a break to homeschool my 3 children. The youngest is now in university and I’ve come back to this path, to test it out again.
But I love wool and spinning and weaving and knitting and gardening and homesteading and teaching and learning new skills, too. Do I have to have only one passion? Do you?
How did I get so many ‘loves’? Through trying them out, learning a new skill, reading, exploring, finding others who do it, too — basically, adult homeschooling. And homeschooling is way cheaper than enrolling in a university degree program because your mother or a school teacher thought you’d be make a good “accountant”, “engineer”, “teacher”, “ecologist”, only to find out after $30,000 and 4 years that the industry bores you to death and you really can’t handle the double-speak and hypocrisy that goes along with the work. Many of the wwoofers that apprenticed at Joybilee Farm have expressed this experience. Its sad. By the end of 12 years of public school and 4 years or more of university, and a debt that could fund a new business, they still don’t know what they want to be when they grow up.
So we are 2 months into the school year and back in September I challenged you to consider an organized program of adult home education to help you discover your passion, empower your creativity, and excel at the particular subject(s) that you’ve always wanted to learn more about. How’s it going for you?
What’s your passion?
If you are a product of the public school system, you may need to take some time to allow yourself to fully explore different roads before you light on one or two areas to explore more deeply. In homeschooling terms we call it de-toxing from the public school mindset. Allowing our minds to freely explore the possibilities without preconceived ideas of where the road should go, is an important part of discovering our passion.
As an artist, I want my work to be creative, nonconforming and to have a distinctive flavour that says, “Chris made this.” “This is a Joybilee Farm Hat.” You don’t find that flavour by following patterns in a book. You have to explore new territory and take “the road less travelled by” as one of my favourite homesteaders, Robert Frost, wrote. But to get to that distinctive place in your creativity, you first need to explore the known highways of your medium. Follow a few patterns, read a few books, copy the masters, to a point. As a creative nonconformist you will probably change something even the first time you try a pattern, a recipe, or a drawing. Afterall, you wouldn’t be a purple sheep if you did things as you are told to, right?
Does fear of criticism keep you from expressing your passion to others?
One of the things I’ve noticed is that people who are really passionate about an art form, a book or an idea, are fearful to talk about that passion to others. They might push a different passion forward as the “public passion” to act as a smoke screen. The decoy passion can take public scrutiny. A lot of vocal activism is actually secondary passion masquerading as the real thing. And the activist safely protects her heart from having the real passion destroyed by criticism.
The problem with this strategy is that although you can protect your heart by reducing the risk of failure and the risk of criticism, you end up investing a lot of time and energy in a counterfeit passion and you cheat yourself. You never allow your real passion to develop to its full potential and you never experience the success that could be yours with risk.
What would happen if you admitted your real passion to others?
There is accountability. “Maybe I won’t measure up.” ” Maybe I will fail.” “Maybe I will be laughed at, criticized, punished, or judged.”
These fears are all real. They might happen.
I might fail, too. Now that I’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo, after months of getting up and starting to write at 6am — I had interruptions. At 10am this morning I was just beginning to write. 4 hours dwindled away. But by signing up for NaNoWriMo I have a better chance of completing some exceptional writing that I wouldn’t do otherwise. And if I don’t make the word quota, I’m still ahead. Someone will probably read this post and decide its drivel, I’m still ahead. I am pursuing my passion. I’m learning my craft. And I just might help someone take the risk to pursue their passion, too.
World Domination and your group of like minded creatives
Passionate artists find support groups — writers’ groups, art clubs, spinning and weaving guilds — to be spurred on to greater development of the craft and to be encouraged. Unfortunately, sometimes these groups, also turn into the kinds of poisonous environments that stifle creativity and destroy individuals who don’t comply. That’s a problem if you are a nonconformist. So chose your group wisely.
But please don’t stifle your own creative growth, while you wait to find a group that you will fit in with. With the online community as close as your keyboard you are more likely to find the perfect support network to stoke the fires of your passion. And if you can’t find what you need, you may need to start your own group that will be a safe place for nonconformist creatives.
Seth Godin calls this “world domination.” To dominate your part of the world, you form your own tribe or flock of like minded individuals who share your passions and weirdness (non-conformity) and explore your passion together. Sounds exciting. I’m working on my own ‘world domination’ through the Purple Sheep flock, a group of creative, nonconformists who want to live in the country, be self sufficient, live with integrity and make a living doing what they love–their passion.
But the first step is discovering your passion.
There are two parallel tracks to this less travelled road. One track is the grassy rut of self sufficiency. That track gives you freedom to continue with the second track of pursuing your passion.
Step 1: Discover your creative passion.
If you are like most of us, your passion is not what you went to school to get your degree in. You probably put it on hold while you got your “education”. So, what did you put on hold so that you could get your education? Can you begin to explore that further?
Step 2: Become an authority, leader, artist in your passion.
Learn everything you can about your passion. Learn the history of it. Learn the vocabulary that is unique to it. Learn the basic styles, genres and artistic theories that are part of it. And explore self expression in this genre. And as you go, document the journey: make notes, write about it and take pictures of it.
Step 3: Communicate this passion to others, through teaching, through a blog, through a gallery. Don’t wait until you are an expert. You are ahead of someone. Write, or video or podcast, to that someone that you are ahead of.
Step 4: Create an online presence. There are no longer any gatekeepers. There are no curators, juries or marketing boards that can prevent you from finding an audience for your work. You don’t have to get your book accepted by an editor to publish it online. You don’t have to have your work juried before it can be sold online. You can offer your creative work for sale online now.
Step 5: Whether you live in the city or rurally, learn self sufficiency skills. The ability to live from your passion has two roads. The first road is development of your creative skills and learning to sell them. The second is learning to live self sufficiently, so that your needs are small.
Step 6: Whether you live in the city or rurally, get out of debt and live within your means.
Take steps to live frugally and get out of debt. In this way, you can say goodbye to “cubicle” living and quit the day job, while you free up your time to explore your passion. You can’t let go of the wage-slavery if you still have debt. So getting out of debt should be your priority.
Step 7: Learn to grow your own food and to eat what you can grow.
You can feed your self by growing your own food — vegetables, fruit, eggs, cheese and even meat can be grown on both urban and rural homesteads. As you begin to meet your own needs you will gain greater independence and inspire your creativity. Digging in the dirt seems to release greater creativity, as well as saving you money.
Step 8: Organize your life to free up more time and resources to pursue your passion.
Clutter and possessions can rob you of time. Do you lose things because of the mess on your desk? (I saw it here yesterday. Who moved it?) Do you spend time moving baskets of yarn, looking for last week’s knitting project, just as you are running out the door to a meeting. (Guilty!) Reducing the demands on your time and getting your household decluttered and organized can give you back time to pursue your passions.
Step 9: Develop perseverance. Don’t give up.
Sometimes we give up just short of our goal. Decide now to hold firm in your resolve to pursue your passion. Set backs will come but they will be learning experiences. And you will grow. Don’t give up. Don’t let the criticism from other people stop you. Don’t let set backs stop you. The reason to have two parallel tracks to this journey — one track of developing your creative passion and the other track of self sufficiency is to provide diversification that will make you more resilient in the set backs that will inevitably come.
MIT offers their online courses for free:
The creative spark is a course about creativity.
There are also classes in photography, media, writing, literature, and there is even a course in Japanese. Have a look.
If this is your first time here, check out the Start Here page to see what this website is all about. And if you found this article helpful please share it with your friends, link to it on Facebook, tweet about it on twitter. Send me some link love and I’ll return the favour.
What’s your creative passion? Are you deepening your relationship with your creative art form? Where are you going from here? Are you a NaNoWriMo rebel? How’s it going? Leave a comment.
And for those who care my NaNoWriMo word count on this second day is 3778 words.