Do you ever ask yourself that question: What am I waiting for?
Do you ever find that you are waiting for your moment, though you might not know exactly what it will look like or feel like, nevertheless you hope it’s on the way, and so you wait for it? And wait some more? Do you find yourself waiting for approval from a teacher or mentor, or from your peers, waiting for the nod that says NOW, you’re ready?
If any of you are like me there is sometimes a hesitation to put forth into the world the things that are closest to your heart and your being, for fear they won’t be received in the way you would like them to be.
A few years ago, a gallery owner contacted me, asking to see some of my artwork. She was looking for pieces to feature in an opening and a mutual friend had told her my work might be a good fit. I froze. I was spinning thoughts in my head, like: what if it’s not good enough? what if she tells me no? what if she tells me she doesn’t like my work? I didn’t respond to her.
I let the moment pass me by. A moment that I had been waiting for.
My grandmother used to say, “It doesn’t hurt to ask.” And though she was right that the asking itself doesn’t hurt, sometimes when we get a response to our work that is not what we had hoped, it can and does hurt. But, letting that possibility stop us in our tracks is not what your creative self had in mind when you came up with the idea. It is a given that some people will love your work and your ideas and others won’t.
A wee bit after the missed gallery opportunity I approached a gift publisher with an idea for a line of cards. They were interested. I put everything else on the back burner and worked on the illustrations and designs. The art director I was working with loved my work, and everything was go, go, go.
It was an exciting time. I felt confident and energised. I felt like I had been given approval for my work in a way that I had never been given before, and it inspired me to start ideas for future lines and future products.
Submission time came around and I delivered my portfolio of illustrations along with mock ups and ideas for future product. 10 days later, word came back from the art director that the creative team had decided they would not be going forward with the line, in fact they would not be working with me at all in the forseeable future.
To say I took it badly minimises how I felt. I told myself: See what happens when you put yourself out there? I went back to focusing on the freelance design work I had been doing—designing products for the gift industry with other artist’s work. I was in the doldrums, no wind, no rowing, no movement.
A little time went by, and one of the companies that I was freelancing for was looking to expand their licensed artists. I remember thinking: well, do I do it? Step up and try again? I stepped up. I can’t say I had no hopes, because I did, but after my first experience, my expectations were low.
Within 6 months, nine of my images were in production as cards, and within a year, I had three calendars, a couple of journals and various other stationery products in production as well. A year after that I started getting e-mails from other artists asking me how I had gotten my licensing deals and if I had any words of advice for them about how to submit, and how to get over the fear of submitting. After a few queries, I decided to write a response that I would send to any artists that contacted me, and in writing that realised that something had changed. I was feeling confident and emergised about my work and my experiences because I had stopped waiting. I was spending less time looking for approval from other people. I had begin the process of listening to myself.
So here’s the thing: Don’t wait.
If you are excited about something you have created, a new direction your work has taken, or a new product that you are thinking about launching, talk about it. Share it with friends. Share it on your blog or your website. Talk about it with colleagues and co-creators. Make commitments to being true to your vision with those in your inner circle, your tribe, or to a coach or mentor. Ask your inner circle to keep you accountable to yourself and your new quest to wait no more. As my own coach would say, “Get some skin in the game” and commit to yourself.
The moment that is right is the moment when you feel the most energised. The moment that is right is the one when your whole self feels excited and a little nervous (but mostly excited) about what you’re working on. Conversely, waiting is like being out at sea with no wind. Waiting can shut down the enthusiasm and joy faster than a “no, I don’t like that” from a potential client, or viewer. Waiting is a trap.
You could wait your whole life for someone else’s approval, someone else’s nod, and when all is said and done, it is Your Approval, Your Nod, Your Voice that is the most important part of this whole process.
You may be told no. You may be told by someone that your work is no good. You may be told that your ideas are bad. But what do you think? Do you approve of your work? Do you like your ideas?
There are many successful people working in many different fields, creating, writing, building, entrepreneuring, and you don’t have to go far into any one of these successful people’s biographies to see some variation on the theme of: They had an idea, they believed in it and they went for it.
A quick list just to remind us all:
- J.K. Rowling submitted Harry Potter to 12 publishing houses, all of which rejected it.
- The Beatles were told: “we don’t like your sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”
- A producer at the Grand Ol’ Oprey told Elvis Presley: “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.”
- In his first film, Harrison Ford was told by the movie execs that he simply didn’t have what it takes to be a star.
- Oprah Winfrey was fired from her job as a television reporter because she was “unfit for tv.”
Was it always easy and smooth? No. Did the building of their craft or their career take hard work, long hours and include a large handful of disappointments? Yes. Did everyone love their ideas or products along the way? No. Did they have moments when their faith felt thin and wispy? Probably. Did they keep going anyway? Yes.
So what is one idea that you have been keeping under wraps? What is one thing that you’ve been working on that at the end of the day you think to yourself: I can’t wait till morning to work on this some more? What is one thing that you could share right here on the Scoutie Girl blog that would be a safe and easy beginning to putting it out into the world?