devoted to creating: reflections on creating, instagram and "big magic"

devoted to creating: reflections on creating, instagram and "big magic"

devoted to creating

i’ve been both engaged in a lot of conversation and have watched a lot of other creators publicly have conversations surrounding the instagram algorithm, reels, etc and how it’s negatively impacting a lot of creators reach and visibility on instagram (myself very much included). i know for a fact that i have struggled to figure out a way to make my static art dynamic for video content, and a lot of me doesn't want to do it. however, i've been learning to encourage myself to use this as a way to get creative in a different way. it'll push the boundaries of my art and potentially bring me to new, bigger things. i know it can be hard to think that way, but it's helping me a lot, even if my execution of video content is slow and basically nonexistent.

the worst part of this whole thing? it’s pushing a lot of creators to find themselves thinking, “well, i don’t want to create anymore if no one is seeing my work.” it makes me sad that something beyond our control can have the influence to make us want to quit. but yeah, i've been there too. it's a collective feeling for sure. (exhibit a: i woke up to re-read this post and do some editing, and right before i did, i was staring at my instagram analytics wondering why i cannot reach new people, wondering why my account hasn't grown in months, googling "why isn't my account growing" and thinking "ugh, i just want to quit. i can see other people growing, why can't i?" bad way to start the day. first of all: it's okay. second of all: stop comparing yourself, allison!!) anyway. right around the time i was really leaning into my thoughts of “what’s the point of this entire thing”, i picked up elizabeth gilbert’s book “big magic”. and wow, was it everything me and my ego (especially my ego) needed to hear.

this book really shook me awake. i know i'm speaking about it like it's some holy text, but to me it really kind of is. i've even joked with pals that this book has sort of become my personal bible. this blog post is a sort of "diary entry of self reflection" –– these words are my personal reflections and how i applied this book & liz's ideas to my own life and relationship with both my creativity and instagram. maybe you can relate. maybe this will spark something inside you. maybe you'll completely disagree with me. i don't know. take what you need, leave the rest. i hope you enjoy it. 

big magic elizabeth gilbert hand lettering and illustration by happpyal allison christine

while reading "big magic", liz brought me back to my why. she really did open my eyes to the reason i'm doing this: passion. (even though she said she hated this word, i personally love it). she encouraged me to think a bit bigger than just the attention and praise my ego thrives on from “successful” posts. she made me realize that sitting in my own self pity for not getting the reach or number of likes i wanted to on a post was an unproductive way to spend my time. sitting around googling "why won't my account grow" isn't going to do anything for me. i justified it by thinking “well, i want to sell stuff! i want to grow my little business! i need to be seen!”. and while that’s true, she encouraged me with a thought: if i love something enough, the outcome doesn’t matter. (remember being a kid and creating and not caring who saw it? remember not really giving it much thought after you were done? you just kind of leapt to the next project?) i keep coming back to the quote “what would you do even if you knew that you might very well fail? what do you love doing so much that the words failure and success essentially become irrelevant?” it’s got me thinking that if i love something enough, it doesn’t matter how it does. if my stickers don’t sell, sure it sucks. if my posts flop, sure it's annoying. but is it the end of the world? not really. there's other ways to sell my stickers –– instagram isn't the only way. there's also other ways to make money, and maybe selling my personal artwork just isn't it. who knows. come to think of it, i don't really want to put that much pressure on my creativity anyway. that's how i drive it away. (and yes, i do work a creative 9-5 job, but i view it entirely differently from making money on my personal art and creative endeavors.. not sure if that makes sense, but it makes sense in my brain).

big magic elizabeth gilbert hand lettering and illustration by happpyal allison christine

at the end of the day, i make things because i love it and because it’s fun. i can always choose to put down the pen and walk away from the work if the results leave me feeling upset and unsatisfied. but as liz says, “what else are you going to do with your time here on earth — not make things? not follow your love and your curiosity?” this line encouraged me. it inspired me. i realized that i have to keep following my curiosity and forget about the rest. because hell, i really enjoy my creativity. i don't want to stop! it's that simple.

big magic elizabeth gilbert hand lettering and illustration by happpyal allison christine

this may seem like a bummer, but liz puts it bluntly: “what you produce isn’t necessarily always sacred just because you think it’s sacred.” she likes to remind us that we aren’t owed anything by anyone…in other words, “there is no guarantee of success in creative realms. not for you, not for me, not for anyone. not now, not ever.” on the surface, you can take this as a slap to the face. but i choose to see this as a huge relief. why? well, if no one’s guaranteed anything and my work isn’t always truly a sacred piece, i can just create lightly and freely knowing it’s all a beautiful dance with inspiration and creativity. we’re just having fun and making cool shit together. at the end of the day, i’m choosing to live a life devoted to creativity, and that means sometimes i’ll have to “eat the shit sandwich that comes with it” (in liz's words).

big magic elizabeth gilbert hand lettering and illustration by happpyal allison christine

so i will keep making and sharing things with the world. i won't pay (too much) attention to the outcome. the outcome doesn’t really matter. in liz’s words, “it cannot matter”. the experience of tapping into creativity and allowing ourselves to dance with it is where the magic happens. the act of creating is what truly transforms us, what teaches us and what helps us grow. if i just stop putting things out into the world, i'll never find that "success" i'm looking for (which isn't really a destination point, but never mind that right now.) i'll never know where my art can take me if i just stop. because with nothing to give, i’ve got nothing to get.

at the end of the day, i'm choosing to live a life devoted to creativity. i'm choosing to wake up every day and create things that bring my soul joy, that make me feel awake and alive with purpose and happiness, because that's why i do this in the first place. i will never stop creating, even if my work is never seen or admired again. i refuse to quit just because it isn't working.

big magic elizabeth gilbert hand lettering and illustration by happpyal allison christine

maybe this all seems a bit too idealistic. personally, i don’t really care. this book, these ideas, helped me accept and be ok with things the way they are, on and off instagram (because let's not forget, instagram isn't everything). i’ve had to accept that the outcome of my work isn’t within my control. i can just make good work and share it with the world and hope it sticks. i've come home to my truth, remembering why it is i create in the first place, and who i do it for (myself). this is the most freeing truth.

big magic elizabeth gilbert hand lettering and illustration by happpyal allison christine

so yeah, this book really helped me, if you couldn't tell. i urge you to read it, or read it again if it’s been awhile. especially if you're also at that "what's the point" mindset. because i promise you, there's a point. disconnect for a little while. read some books, create some art. go home to yourself. rediscover your why. forget instagram and external sources of validation. go inward. keep creating. please.

thanks for reading these reflections, pal ☻

if you loved big magic, may i also suggest keep going by austin kleon

 keep showing up babe


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love this energy & what a good reminder! cheers to making because we love it. xo


I just read Big Magic too, because you’ve been recommending it on Insta! So good to hear your thoughts on it. And can’t wait to participate in your spring challenge, just for the joy of it!


I’m a pal who found you on ig during October. I’ve purchased from you twice . Love your artwork. I am def going to check out this book. Reading more is one of my goals this year. I love how this book has touched jour soul. Def giving it a read. May I suggest the Secret by R. Brynes. I have been living with that book as my creative life bible. Happy creating!

Jossie Posie

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