Creative Sabotage

We’ve all been there right? Perhaps you’re there right now. Regardless of how long I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing, or how ‘woke’ I get to myself and the creative process, I STILL SABOTAGE! But thankfully there are degrees of it.

How does creative self sabotage show up for you? For me:

  • I become more reclusive than normal and whilst I do love my own company, I absolutely require social intimacy. If I cut myself off from the latter… something is up;

  • I doubt and distract myself. Being solo, I don’t have a team to help break me out of it so a considerable amount of time can go by until I realise I’ve had to crawl myself out of a pity-pit I dug for myself; Possibly with the help of some unwelcome criticism or hate from another, I’ve been triggered and diverted without realising until perhaps a month or so later when I realise just how unhappy and uninspired I’m feeling. (Which is why a plan is so helpful as a solo-creative, which I talk about here);

  • Lastly, I find really strong justification for not exploring growth opportunities. Dammit. This is honestly the worst. I’ll tell myself: “you’re not being responsible… you’re a single parent… cub needs you to be more present…” when in fact evidence shows that the more creatively satisfied I am the more loving and nurturing I’m able to be. But the reasoning to not create or develop and instead stay stuck in doubt and stagnation is another self sabotage that the creative self drowns in.

Most interestingly, a really viable path that can produce a host of benefits can also be part of creative sabotage. My work with independent creatives has me nurturing their creativity - which I find so satisfying - but actually if weighed too heavily in that corner means I’m not nurturing my own creativity. A balance is necessary - sure, but more than that, I’m not embodying the creative as well as the strategist in me.

Embodying means living it. Whilst we can create to-do lists, Miss Yankey recently told me about to-be lists. Being your true potential rather thank ticking off to-do’s is far more impactful in ensuring you don’t sabotage or at least not sabotage for a great length of time.

Having sabotaged myself creatively in the past for the best part of a decade, I’m grateful now when I can catch myself after a week or so. Whilst a lost month is horrendous, it’s more easily recoverable than years of your life not being who you are meant to be. Find a way to just BE and the to-do’s will follow.

Do share your stories with me. Here or on IG.

Don’t have to be on edge to create

Don’t dismiss the power of sleep! I’d become so work-minded that I viewed sleep as another to-do to get back on the hustle in the morning. Never was my mind fresh with ideas and the early morning pyjama boogie in my kitchen had vanished. The good gooey feeling had disappeared. Substantial sleep gives me that good gooey feeling like nothing else.

Just a week ago I was watching a segment about how Roger Federer like some very accomplished athletes sleeps at least 12 hours in order to fully recover and recharge. Apparently Usain Bolt broke a world record only 35 minutes after waking from sleep. I get it…

Perhaps there are some ‘obstacles’ like little kids that interrupt the ideal amount of sleep we need every night. I can’t debate that with you since we all know the answer… kids respond very well strict routine and patterns (just like us humans) and that includes encouraging them to go back to their beds if they wake up. Once they experience the good gooey kind of sleep they’ll not want to be disturbed. But if that doesn’t convince you then here’s another suggestion.

Earlier this week I posted on my IG about how I don’t have a stop button. And that when I am fully on, I need a fade-out to finally come to a halt and get that amazing sleep. I cannot function creatively if I keep pushing without stopping. A fade out routine (winding down) is a disciplined few hours every night that all of us - including our kids - can benefit from.

There is literally no excuse. Perhaps it’s our attachment to routines and habits that curtail us from benefiting from such powerful recovery and rejuvenation. The benefits far outweigh staying in that space of crankiness smothered with bad habits we think soothe us.

Sleep. Fade out routine. Function and thrive dynamically as a creative. If it means more earlier nights then so be it. The pay-off is worth it. But if you’re still not convinced…

NAP! Please start napping! I adore naps. Never could do them before. I used to feel disoriented and now I know it’s because my state is always tired and the naps help me register my tiredness.

If you’re always on the edge, you’ll never know how it feels to feel … well. Actual sense of wellness. You don’t have to be on edge to create.

www.instagram.com/Serena.hussain

www.instagram.com/Serena.hussain

Collaborations … do they work?

Collaborating happens a lot with independent creatives. Are they always helpful?

This weekend some really good (creative) friends were here at HQ chopping it up for hours (as per usual) and whilst they refused my offer to turn the mics on halfway through (standard Serena) our convo still managed to provide me with some content. 

Do collaborations work? Can they be a little knee-jerk?

I’ve wound-down past collaborations because they haven’t always worked OR only worked for a period of time. This is what got in the way:

  1. Competing agendas. You may begin with the same intentions but these could change with time. Best to communicate. But if you’re busy churning out content (as I was) then there’s very little time to fit this in. It is a must;

  2. Everyone develops and grows - apart. Whilst a collaboration brings people together, it doesn’t make one person and one mind. So it should be fully expected that you can outgrow each other, but more specifically, you may not grow as a collab;

  3. A lack of acknowledgement. Acknowledging one another’s time and commitment. If this is off then forget about it. Knowing what you’re bringing to the table and being clear about it is paramount. You may be ‘thinking’ differently to what the other is ‘seeing’. 

Like all relationships, creative collabs may only be for a season. But it’s disappointing when things end on a sour note. In the distant past I haven’t communicated my reservations enough in advance of things turning sour. The cause of this is a symptom we all suffer from frequently as independent creatives and that is ... exhaustion. 

So exhausted by everything I was putting in and then some ... it felt easier to just press the eject button especially when attempts to redefine my own creative trajectory were being ignored. 

The thing is though... it’s worse when the other party turns nasty. Utterly clueless about where you’re coming from, they can’t see past their nose.  This I advise is where you draw the line. Do not engage. Make your peace and remove them/yourself and keep it moving. 

Collaboration with other creatives works well when a term of time is established with key responsibilities/agreements drawn up. The alternative is just messiness and not the type of creative mess you can work with. 

I’m not worried about burning bridges when those past connects were nothing more than a short tunnel I had to navigate out of, only to find I was still on the same damn side. 

As independent creatives, perhaps we are quick to want to join forces with someone who possesses something we think we lack. I’d challenge us to explore our capabilities before linking creatively with someone else. 

“Thought-diversity” / Blog

‘Diversity’ imagery and marketing focuses on how we visibly look different. But how do we live our lives? How is that shared?

How much visibility can we really bring to who we are underneath the ‘diverse exterior’? And should it be our job to?

The issue isn’t just the lack of diversity in spaces ... it’s the lack of what I call “thought-diversity”. A lack of openness on the part of people who live and work in their silos and are delighted at the mention of anything slightly spicy at which point they’ll bring up the ‘Fatima’ they received ‘Indian sweets’ from that one time.

Why is everything Indian? And do you know what Punjabi is? Do you know why India and Pakistan exist? Do you know where hashtag moon milk and hashtag golden milk come from? These Pinterest/Instagram/influencer crazes have their cultural roots in a place these moonmilk followers know nothing about.

Did the person who received the “Indian sweets” bother to have a longer conversation with the ‘Fatima’ they received them from or is it enough that they have a line about who she is to stockpile in their go-to’s whenever they are faced with a diverse interaction or conversation?

If you are living/working in a diverse geographical region, why is it that you don’t have more than a line to share about a certain community or culture?

Why do “diverse” individuals have to be planted into settings to make it look like we are doing the work to be more representative when the existing structures haven’t changed and neither have the people within it?

Perhaps grown ups need my “thought-diversity” training in their workplaces whilst our kids explore diversity in a less forced way. Until we inevitably silo them as well. 

Culture starts with you because...

… culture is transmitted. How and by whom is not in our control. What is within our grasp THOUGH is our own expression and being mindful of THIS THING CALLED ‘CREATIVE integrity’.

I’ve had many a conversation (on and off the podcast) about cultural appropriation. Whilst it exists, I find the ‘talking about it’ a big distraction. We could instead create/inform/educate our audience rather than providing endless commentary, something I’ve wrestled with since I started the podcast talking to creatives since 2016.

The only downside to self expression is that we could take a position where we don’t credit our influences. Where we believe it’s all us.

Culture is transmitted, shared, and evolving. That’s not to say that it is without roots.

If we are appreciating the branches and tentacles of a tree, it’s only right to credit the trunk, the foundation, and the roots. So in order to credit our source or the influence behind our creativity, does it then require us to provide a bibliography name checking our influences every time we produce a piece of work?

As creatives, our storytelling/commentary/expression is invaluable. It spurs discussion and evokes emotions of all kinds. Art stirs us and impacts the individual and collective. It has such power and reach that I wonder if it does in fact now require a side of context, or a B side.

But isn’t that spoon feeding when it’s up to our audience to interpret?

Culture starts with us and it has a source. It’s tentacles can’t be tamed but it can be traced back to an origin. In our new digital media era, there is ample space and platform for creatives/artists to provide a contextual side to develop the story with their audience; an audience that does actually thirst for more information.

It isn’t rare now for a symposium discussion to accompany an exhibition. And it’s always been the case that musicians have had to promo and talk about their music upon the release of it. So perhaps we should embrace having to deliver more context (and clarity) at a time when the line of being original and influenced is so blurred.

How big brands are stalking YOUR creativity

Adidas welcomes UK market to its US consumer rewards scheme 'Creators Club'.

Following its’ success in the US, Adidas is bringing its membership programme - the Creators Club - over to the UK, before expanding into the rest of Europe later in the year. 

Launching officially in June, the programme rewards customers with exclusive access to products, experiences and services in exchange for their time and advocacy. 

After members sign up to the Creators Club in-store or through the Adidas app, they can earn rewards through a range of activities, including attending Adidas events, buying products and providing feedback on products and services. 

The sportswear brand hopes to expand the scope to include rewards for activities linked to creativity and participation, which members can achieve by generating Adidas content or for the amount of km run through the Runtastic app. 

Rewards are split into four tiers, with 'Icon' status as the highest. As members unlock each level, they will gain greater access to special events, product customisation, priority service, members-only products and unique experiences. 

Discussing the launch, Adidas' vice-president of brand activation Europe, Roy Gardner, said:

"Not only will the programme reward consumers for how they engage with us but it will also allow us to continually refine our offering and react to what they want to see from us. It’s a personalised connection to the best of sport and style with creativity at its heart.”

Hmm…some thoughts.

I see this often with large and smaller brands. In exchange for your creativity and participation in their brand-building they are rewarding you with “greater access” (but not ALL access). The offer of vague ‘product customisation’ and ‘priority service’ is supposed to tease you into giving up your fresh and non-establishment take on a garment or accessory. Enticing you with exclusive memberships (eye roll) when we know it doesn’t put you in the room with decision makers for you to have more ownership over your ideas. And let’s not ignore the collecting of your data via their app. You participate in this consumer experience, with “greater access”, and they collect more data. So big brands benefit by collecting your identity and your ideas.

If YOUR expertise and intel will be funnelled into their own creative teams, who is this an opportunity for?

S.H

A refresh…

It seems smug to say it’s all about timing. But it is.

LV was conjured up exactly for its’ current purpose back in 2014 when I started vlogging on living a creative life; then in 2016 when I launched the podcast; and after that first interview in 2017 with Oddisee, the path led me to this current manifestation.

Spotlighting creatives and capturing conversations morphed into also providing creatives with brand building and a monthly digital content incubator for creatives.

There are ways for creatives such as yourself to contribute and connect. Whether you reach HQ in South London at a monthly or bi-monthly event or via a digital channel.

My ‘weekly creative media brief’ is an insightful round-up on what is most relevant to creators of all disciplines. Just fill in the form wherever you are on the site and thank you for sticking around.

Stay tuned and welcome.