macstore

Why Embracing Technology is Essential to Creative Success

This evening (Thursday 31st March) I’m speaking about blogging at the Apple Store in Glasgow, along with fellow Scottish bloggers Last Year’s Girl and Peenko (us three were also amongst those interviewed by Ten Tracks about music blogging recently).

If you’re in Glasgow and around between 6 -7pm it would be great to see you (Roddy Woomble of Idlewild is playing a solo set afterwards if that helps persuade you!)

How I Stopped Worrying and Learnt to Love the Tech

I was actually quite slow to get the tech bug, for example I didn’t get a mobile phone until relatively late and I was fairly clueless when it came to computers until the last few years.  My first ever blog post was in July 2005 so I was by no means an early adopter of blogging either , although 6 years is quite a long time now that I think about it.

Since I bought my Macbook a few years ago and then an iPhone, I’ve become a bit of a fan of Apple’s products, and I’ve also become quite a geek generally. For over a year I  spent a fair chunk of each day reading blogs and trying out new web and mobile apps, and although my attention has now expanded  to many other things, I still have a keen interest in modern technology, the internet and the latest gadgets (not that I can afford as many as I’d like).

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s essential to embrace technology if you want to further your creative goals – even if you’re not a blogger.

Note: If you do want other people to find your creative work having a blog is still the best way to get the word out and connect with people online. I may be preaching to the converted on this point though!

Technology Can Help You Go Pro

Obviously technology can help you with the actual act of creation – e.g. Michael Nobbs is now using an iPad for his drawings – and there are powerful programmes like Adobe Creative Suite which are used by designers, photographers and video editors. If you put the work in, these packages can allow you to present yourself in an extremely professional way, allowing you to compete with established creative pros when selling your work.

And whilst decent tech is certainly not cheap, these days you can create things on a reasonable well-powered laptop that would have been unimaginable less than a decade ago. The fact I can now film and edit HD video on my iPhone is mind-boggling to me, not just because I’m a lover of all things Apple and shiny, but because of what it allows me to do – film footage anywhere I am, and share it to the world via my blog.

Technology allows you to connect with the world

Using Skype, I’ve interviewed some of my favourite musicians like Bonnie Prince Billy and Regina Spektor, and received coaching and seminars on a variety of topics from people I like and admire from all over the world. I’ve made a bunch of friends on Twitter, and I can keep in touch with family and friends from all over the world on Facebook. I’m old enough to remember when NONE OF THIS WAS POSSIBLE. It wasn’t that long ago.

I Hear a New World Podcast 11 – March 2009 1 by gaseousbrain

Hell even MySpace, which is now dead to me, was useful at the time. I remember when there was as much a buzz about it as there is now with Twitter. My music was appreciated by a few crazy people in different parts of the world, even though most people found it unlistenable tosh!

And I’m delighted to say a bunch of amazing creative people from all over the world read this blog. That’s one of the most exciting things about blogging for me.

Staying aware of the latest trends keeps you one step ahead

Now believe it or not, I’ve never been massively comfortable with bragging about myself. The beauty of blogging and social media means you don’t have to boast about what you’ve done, you just have to show the evidence and it will speak for itself. But on this occasion I’ll make an exception (didn’t take much persuading did it?) as I want to show you how being up to date with the latest trends can be of benefit.

Here’s some stuff I’ve achieved because I’ve embraced technology and the latest trends:

  • I’ve attracted paid freelance work due in part to my blogging  and social media experience.
  • I was promoted to a digital engagement role at work thanks to my self -taught knowledge in the area.
  • I was asked to take part in a debate at St Andrew’s University with some very well respected and established journalists and academic figures, because I had written online about the future of journalism.
  • This weekend I reached 1,000 followers on Twitter for the first time – and it has happened organically just because I enjoy chatting to new people and finding out what they’re doing (and it’s helped that I’ve been on there for over two years).
  • I founded the I Hear a New World podcast for Scottish culture magazine The Skinny, which I hope helped in some way to raise the profile of some excellent but under-appreciated musicians.

And I”m not even a proper early adopter! There’s loads of people out there who are way ahead of me, but the fact is that by at least being aware of what’s going on in the world of technology, I can foresee trends and take advantage of them if I’m able to.

But Everyone’s a Blogger Nowadays

True, a lot of people have blogs these days, and not all of them are that great. But if you’re not in the game, you’re never going to win. Social networking sites aren’t going to cut it – look what’s happened to the aforementioned MySpace.

Writing for other publications is all very well but you need your own web ‘real estate’ if you want to get people to visit you and follow you over time. You need your own blog (preferably on WordPress) and you need to keep it up to date if you’re really serious about spreading your work to as many people as possible. Of course if you don’t want to to do that, then fair enough but if you’re reading this I’m guessing you probably do!

Just do yourself a favour – include a link so people can subscribe by RSS and email – and use Feedburner so that they can subscribe using their favoured feed reader without having to copy and paste the link. Okay, only obsessive blog readers like me might use RSS, but they’re exactly the people you want as long-term readers as they are more likely to share your stuff with other people.

Technology allows you to teach yourself pretty much anything

This might be the biggie. You can pretty much learn anything you want in terms of creative skills with the information that’s now readily available online.

Personally my first port of call is always books, and I now read a combination of print books and ebooks, either via my Kindle or downloaded directly from the website of the author. You can find info for free on pretty much anything if youre willing to take the time, and there are also a bunch of useful info products and subscription services which will distill this infiormation into an easy to follow guide and even provide it in audio and video formats (though you do need to be somewhat cautious about which of these you invest in).

YES, TECHNOLOGY CAN BE A PAIN IN THE ARSE.

Technology is never perfect, and I have to admit I do get frustrated sometimes when trying to use technology but that’s mainly because I either haven’t taken the time to learn something properly or am trying to do too much too quickly, without proper preparation.

And of course being online all the time does have it’s disadvantages and can be hugely distracting and that’s something we all need to learn how to deal with if we’re to stay sane and clear-minded.

What’s worse,  environmentally and ethically there are a huge amount of issues with the sourcing of components and the disposal of obsolete tech.

But it’s hard not to see the positive sides. technology and the internet levels the playing field (at least it does for the time being) and allows anyone who’s got a creative urge to set up a website and get their work out there.

Of course the amount of effort and time involved in doing that is not to be underestimated, but I think it’s fair to say that technology currently gives creative people an opportunity that even 15 years ago would have been unimaginable. Who knows how long it might last? Get on board while you can.

By the way if you’re in the UK you might want to join the protest against the Government’s proposed web blocking scheme which will erode our freedom of what we can access online – could be the start of a slippery slope..

Creative Types Catch Up

Pears in bowl - by Elizabeth Destouches

Hello! No, I haven’t forgotten you, I’ve just been a bit disorganised recently.

Firstly, thanks very much to Elizabeth and Paul for sharing their creative work on Facebook as part of Share Your Wares Sunday. Now I know full well that a lot more of you are doing good stuff (hint – blog posts count as creative too), so feel free to share what you’re up to either over on Facebook or in the comments. I’ll not limit it to Sundays but that would be the best day as it allows me to keep track of it.

Ten Top Creative Types

There are now 10 Clear-Minded Creative types featured on this blog, not to mention the Four Creative Types that I interviewed for www.gaseousbrain.com (who were the unwitting guineapigs for the series).

And although there’s plenty more interviews with inspiring creative people to come, I’ve not had the chance to get them online for a couple of weeks (apologies) so it seems like as good a time as any to catch up with what our ten creative types so far have been up to.

Japan

I’m still reeling from what’s happened in Japan, it’s almost unimaginable what people went through when the earthquake and tsunami struck and are continuing to go through with the aftermath, especially the truly terrifying nuclear power station problems. It certainly puts things into perspective in my own little life, where I often complain for the sake of complaining, forgetting how truly fortunate I am.

  • Hande Zapsu Watt and her friends at the Istanbul Review are asking people to make 1000 folded cranes to send a message of hope to the children of Japan, it’s a really nice idea and I hope you consider getting involved as it is definitely an opportunity to do something creative and feel you’re making a contribution. Of course you can also help in other ways – Google’s crisis response page is a good place to start, and Mary Jaksch of Goodlife Zen also has suggestions of how to help out.
  • Andrew Eaton is still posting some of his more obscure recordings on his ‘Might Make a B-Side’ blog, and through his label Biphonic Records (which he runs with Swimmer One bandmate Hamish Brown) he’s releasing a new album by a band called Luxury Car which is worth checking out.
  • Mr Thom Chambers has released the most recent issue of In Treehouses, called The Profit of Free which is all about using free content to build an audience. As always, it’s beautifully designed and acts as a teaser for his new product, the Free Fans Kit which looks very useful indeed.
  • Our most recent interview was with Mary Gordon of Creative voyage who’s got an interesting post on ‘the joy of part-time work’. I would agree, but I’ve only actually had two of my Monday’s free since going part-time as I’ve been working freelance or travelling back from family visits all of the other days. But yes, in theory, I agree  :)

So, what creative stuff have you been up to? Let me know in the comments!

* Affiliate links – if you buy, I get a cut. I only recommend things I own myself and have found useful.

Introducing: Share Your Wares Sundays (& free Four for Feb PDF)

So here at long last is the promised downloadable PDF featuring the work of some of our Four for Feb creative talents. Yep, just right click on the below link and select ‘save as’ to download and it’s all yours. Or just click and you’ll be able to view it in your browser.

Four for Feb – File Under Finished

(featuring Blythe Robertson, Kim Manley Ort, Melissa Davies, Aunty Emily, BaldbossPaul MacLeod and a couple of others).

Introducing: Share Your Wares Sundays

Now although the Spring-clean Your Routine challenge is all about stopping doing things that are no longer a good use of your time, I know that a lot of readers of this blog are still doing great work each and every week. And that’s why I thought ‘Share your Wares Sundays’ would be a good idea – so that you can let other people see what you’ve been up to during the week on the Clear-Minded Creative Facebook page.

Whaddya mean, “Wares”?

Now the word ‘wares’ usually refers to ‘goods for sale’ but I thought it fit here because

(1) it rhymes with shares

and (2) I want to encourage you to value your creative outputs and maybe even consider selling them in future.

The most important thing for now though is to share them and let other people see them, so if you’ve done something creative this week, feel free to post it. There is only one rule:

Rule 1: You must have completed it during the 7 days prior to the Sunday you post it. Note that it doesn’t matter when you started it, it could have been five years ago for all I care, but it has to have been completed during the past 7 days.

That’s it! Hopefully there will be something you create this week that you’ll be up for sharing next Sunday :)

P.s. a note on this blog’s schedule

I’ve not been sticking to the schedule of posting Mondays and Thursdays as religiously as I did at the beginning because I’ve had extra freelance work on and it’s keeping me extremely busy, plus in two months I get married and there is a lot of stuff to do for that. Also I’m thinking it might get a bit dull and I’ve got a few different ideas I’d like to try out in the next few weeks.

So apologies if you notice a variation in the days I post over the next wee while. If I can settle into a workable pattern I might change the schedule permanently, in which case I’ll let you know.

amazing-mary

Filmmaker & Photographer Mary Gordon

This week’s interview is with Mary Gordon, who I first found out about through her blog Creative Voyage. Mary runs courses in Edinburgh based on the hugely popular book The Artist’s Way
(which I will be talking about in more detail on this blog soon). However despite that fact we both live in the same city we have yet to meet in real life- something we must remedy soon!

I found Mary’s ideas and philosophy of life really interesting and hope you will too.  I was especially intrigued by how she has following her instinct on a number of key occasions has been a key part of her creative journey.

Please can you describe who you are and what you are up to at the moment?

I’m a filmmaker/photographer who runs creative unblocking workshops in Glasgow & Edinburgh based on the techniques developed by Julia Cameron of The Artist’s Way and my own 20 years of creating. I’m working on putting together a collaborative photography exhibition and developing a feature documentary.

Did you always know what you wanted to do (creatively) or has it been a process of trial and error to get to the point you’re at now? If it’s the latter, how did you decide what to focus on?

Well… I had various quite random wishes of things I wanted to be as a child, junk shop owner, writer and someone in ‘biznis’. However I had a very profound experience walking as a student through a wood in spring when the trees were in blossom by full moon and a most powerful and direct inner voice said to me that my job was to ‘tell stories’.

However in what form as been the basis of my exploration ever since. I started by making films and then I took up photography in a slightly random way about 12 years ago.

The Lomo LCA

I was staying with a friend in London and walked past an early Lomography shop. I had been reading about Lomography online and was compelled to go in. I ended up buying a Lomo LCA from this rather strange woman with a strong German accent who gave me a quick lesson on how to use the camera. And I was off on a whole different kind of creative adventure.

Have you organised your life in a certain way/made sacrifices in order to continue to be creative?

Yes but partly because there are certain things or ways of working which really don’t work for me (full time in an office 9-5). But there are other ways to look at it. What other people think of a sacrifice to me is a relief. Because what others think is necessary in their life is not to me.

But then they probably wouldn’t travel 500 miles to the best photo printer or spend their holidays in the Imperial War Museum Archive watching rare films by Ruby Grierson!

 

How do you define success?

Humm well I feel that if I’m creating regularly, in contact with a wide group of creative people, having fun, have something to look forward to and not starving – I’m doing brilliantly.

I’ve found that whenever someone is trying to shove their idea of ‘success’ at you it is because they have achieved their idea of ‘success’ and are as miserable as sin but won’t admit it so they are on a mad recruiting campaign because they cannot countenance the idea that they have swallowed something that does not work. Being happy is the best revenge.

On a side note re money – whenever I have had well paid work which I dislike I’ve always ended up worse off financially speaking due to the amount of cash spent on ‘treating’ myself to compensate on my time being tied up in something I dislike doing.

This is not to say that I’m against money. But I think it isn’t helpful to push the idea of making living from your creativity to legitimate being creative. I found Tom Hodgkinson’s book How To Be Free very helpful about clarifying my ideas around what makes a good life.

 

What in your opinion are the positives and negatives of technology when it comes to both creating and promoting your work?

As far as creating goes I’m old school (waggy finger) analogue. I only work with film. My last documentary was recorded on video but had a large tranche of footage which was originated on Super8 which I shot myself.

What I like about these formats is the amount of chance and accident which is involved and actual conditions. By that I mean the shot or footage is dependent on me being there at that particular moment when the light is like this. Its not faked up later. It’s a zen lesson on dealing with what is.

When it comes to promoting my work? Bring it on! Gosh I wish I’d had the internets when I made my first film. It was agony putting myself out and my film out into the world. I now would have such an easier job. The ability to make connections and be connected is infinitely expanded.

I am a total twitter convert – it was my friend Rhiannon Connelly @starrybluesky, a photographer working with polaroids who introduced me to it. As a result I now actually feel more connected to the place I live in and I’m making wonderful connections in a wider way.

I was on an old school email list to do with creativity about 10 years ago and the connections I made via that have meant that in the past 5 years I’ve been on quite extended trips to US and Australia where I actually met all the people I’d been emailing with all those years.

I occasionally have a freak out about the amount of time I spend online. But I am becoming less reactive more organised about it. But I had a lovely aha moment talking to a friend last week when she pointed out presocial media we weren’t all rushing about being wonderful in the now, connected, present people and she could remember spending much time lying on the sofa flicking her way through Heat.

Do you collaborate with others or prefer to work alone, and why?

My films are necessity collaborations or a bit like gathering an army together! I’ve been considering whether it would be possible to work more on film alone and I’ve been thinking about Margaret Tait as a role model here. I would never have made my first film Ethel Moorhead without my producer Steve Quinn who was a wonderful collaborator. We were both novices and learned together.

I think if you do collaborate you have to respect whoever you are working with. My current producer has a strong background in TV so when he talks to me about the way my story is or isn’t working in terms of storytelling in TV terms I have to take what he says on board. I think when collaboration works you can take turns in infusing the partnership with creativity.

On the other hand when you work alone as I do with my photography – I enjoy that very much as its something I can do whenever I want to, I don’t have to persuade or ask permission. However the downside is that I’ve probably not pushed myself as much as I could have. And this is something I have to do more of in my photographic practice.

Is community important to you – either local or online – and if so, why?

Oh yes I put a lot of time in my friendships, maintaining them – they are my ballast as a creative person. We need to be what Julia Cameron calls ‘believing mirrors’ to each other. We can see the talent and possibilities in each other usually easier than in ourselves, which is why it’s important to keep telling each other about our faith in each other.

I made a film about a wonderful woman called Mary Fraser Dott who was a chiropodist by day and SNP activist by night – she was a founding member of the SNP when it had about 30 members. She was my great aunt and she ran a literary salon from her flat in Millar Place with people like Hugh MacDairmid and Anne Redpath. I’m really hoping to start something similar as I’d like to do an in person network.

I’ve always found consistency difficult in terms of learning a craft and then practicing it regularly – is this something you’ve mastered and do you have any advice on how to maintain this?

Yes I am luckily quite a tenacious person by temperament so have put in many hours learning lo-fi photography methods by myself. I think what helps is making practicing your creativity a daily habit (or at least aim to make it so).

Doing something small but regularly is much more sustainable over a long period than waiting for a large swathe of time which then becomes very daunting because you have then justify putting aside the time. I find the Artist’s Way practice of morning pages (a free form form of writing in the morning which helps to clear the brain for the day ahead) gently reminds me every day of what I should be doing. But generally a working method which is just step by step in the direction you want to go in makes the most amazing progress over time.

Thanks Mary! If you enjoyed this post why not leave a comment or say hello to Mary directly, either on her blog or on Twitter where she’s @creativevoyage.

Note: this post contains affiliate links to Amazon. One day, someone will actually use them to buy a book and I will be rich wohahaha.

Spring-Clean Your Routine

Spring Cleaning by √oхέƒx™

Congratulations to everyone who completed the Four for Feb challenge (the downloadable PDF memorabilia thingy will be posted soon), and even if you didn’t quite make it but managed to do something creative during the month, it’s a great achievement. Why? Because NONE OF US HAVE ENOUGH TIME.

The demands on our time and attention only increase as we get older and our lives become more complex (unless you’re already retired or independently wealthy  in which case congratulations!).

Most of us work full-time. Some of us do extra freelance or other creative work on top of that. Some people have children, some are in long-term relationships. Most have daily, weekly and monthly chores to get done. Some people have people to care for, or their own illnesses and other issues and problems to deal with.

And most of us like to have a bit of a social life and have fun every now and again to0. It’s important t0 get some downtime,  to properly rest and relax. And we like to keep up with what’s going on in the world, through a variety of sources, the news, blogs, magazines, TV.

So for most of us, are lives are already full. We have packed our days to capacity with endless activities, and I for one find it overwhelming at times.

So the next challenge I’m suggesting is one where you sit down and actually work out how you can free up some space in your schedule.

Leo Babauta, one of the most successful bloggers on the planet, wrote a brilliant post about how you need to create time to make serious changes in your life. This is what I did for myself when I gave up writing about local music and recording my monthly podcasts, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed doing, because I knew they were not sustainable activities in the long run because neither earned me any money.

Does that mean I won’t do things for free that I enjoy in the future? Not at all. But by giving up those things I was able to get experience doing other things, and spend some time working out what I wanted to do next, and actually earn some money doing other freelance writing/web work. Last year I also missed out on blogging for a few months, and didn’t socialise very much, all because I was focused on trying to get work I enjoyed.

So you do need to prioritise and decide what’s most important to focus on. Seth Godin’s book The Dip is all about the difficult period in any project or activity when your enthusiasm wanes, difficulty levels increase and you need a lot of self-discipline just to continue. His point is that in some cases it’s extremely important to get through the dip to the other side, but in some cases it’s not worth it because they are dead-ends. You need to decide which of your activities is which, and stop the ones that are getting you nowhere.

But even then, you might struggle to find any free time, because you lack the basic awareness of how you’re behaving throughout the day. I know I can be in denial sometimes about my procrastination, but spending an hour reading blogs when I could be writing my own is probably not the best use of that one hour each day that I can keep free to myself. Laura Vanderkam’s book 168 Hours is all about this topic, and she suggests tracking how you’re spending your time. You can download a free time management spreadsheet from her site which will help you do this.

As we’ve seen from many of the Clear-Minded Creative Type interviews so far, a strict routine can be the best way to stick to get creative work done, whether it be managing your projects along with your caffeine intake like Hande Zapsu Watt, or getting up ridiculously early each morning like Thom Chambers. Here it’s impossible not to mention Leo Babauta again as his book The Power of Less talks about setting morning and evening routines which allow you to be creative, or get regular exercise, or even just to get some quiet time to yourself to read a book.

So the challenge for March/April is to “spring-clean your routine” and find at least one regular time-wasting activity that is no longer of value to you and no longer contributes to your goals to eliminate from your life.

In March I suggest you try and become aware of how you’re spending your time. Spring starts on 21st March so see if you can identify by then what you’re going to stop doing and make a plan for how you’re going to do it.

Then in April you can start to establish a new routine to allow you to achieve your creative goals. Imagine how freeing it will be to have that extra space in your life to achieve what you really want. I guarantee you will feel more clear-minded as a result :)

Photo credit: √oхέƒx™ Note: all book links are part of Amazon.com’s affiliate scheme. Because I need the money to buy Apple products.

michaelnobbs

Artist, Blogger and Tea Drinker Michael Nobbs

I first became aware of Michael Nobbs through my friend Fabian (The Friendly Anarchist). As well as loving his artwork, I was impressed with the sense of calm, compassion and wisdom that he demonstrates when he writes about ‘sustainable creativity’ on his blog.

And of course it’s a topic very close in theme to ‘clear-minded creativity’ so I was delighted when he agreed to take part in this series.

I’m also seriously impressed at what he’s achieved despite being diagnosed with ME/CFS as he speaks about in more detail about below. I think the way he’s managed his illness is seriously helpful for anyone who struggles to find time to be creative, or indeed suffers from any kind of illness (or even psychological issues such as depression or low self-esteem which can also set people back from achieving what they want creatively).

So without further ado, let’s find out more:

Hi Michael! Please can you describe who you are and what you are up to at the moment?

My name is Michael Nobbs and I’m a full time artist, blogger and tea drinker (not necessarily in that order). Back at the end of the 1990s I was diagnosed with ME/CFS and over the last decade and a half I’ve learnt a lot about sustaining a creative career with limited energy.

I am author of the blog, Sustainably Creative. Between regular cups of tea I draw the everyday and ordinary things around me and post links to Twitter about drawing and trying to keep things simple. I recently released the first version of an ebook that I have been working on for a while, Sustainable Creativity*.

Did you always know what you wanted to do (creatively) or has it been a process of trial and error to get to the point you’re at now? If it’s the latter, how did you decide what to focus on?

My journey to where I am now creatively has been a bit of a winding one. When I was first diagnosed with ME/CFS I was working as a freelance writer and publisher.

My life had been getting smaller and smaller for a number of years as I’d struggled to keep working (and making money!) whilst I was very slowly (almost in perceptively) getting progressively iller. In the end I basically had a breakdown and started on a six month medical treadmill that finally ended up with a diagnosis for ME/CFS.

The relief of a diagnosis was huge. I was told to give up trying to work, and basically took to my bed and rested and slept and began the slow process of learning to look after myself and my energy levels.

During that period I picked up Julia Cameron’s wonderful The Artist’s Way*
and rekindled a wish to be a visual artist that had become lost somewhere in my early teens.

As energy allowed I began to take some art classes, drawing first and then painting. I loved painting, and for a while painted some very large landscapes, but the energy entailed in working in paint on the scale I wanted was really more than I could cope with. As hard as it was to accept, I finally came to the conclusion that I would have to find a “smaller” more energy-considerate way of working.

In 2004 I came across two artist’s blogs, one by Keri Smith and the second by Danny Gregory. They both draw a lot, and tended to draw the things around them. I was inspired both by their drawings and the fact that they blogged.

I began to make small drawings and posting them to a blog. I realised that the process of drawing and blogging was something I could generally sustain, and I loved the feeling of achievement I felt from finishing a little drawing and posting it online. I realised that feeling that I had accomplished something (and would be able to do so again) was a huge boost to how I saw myself; instead of often feeling defeated and exhausted by the things I tried to do I found I felt buoyed up by doing something sustainable.

Eventually I studied for an MA in fine art and now drawing and blogging are central to my creative life.

How do you define success?

For a very long time success meant getting through the day and remaining as positive as possible. Getting successfully through the day was measured by things like keeping myself fed and watered and my home reasonably together. If I could also make a small drawing and post it to my blog then that was often the icing on the cake.

Over time though, as my health has improved I have found myself wanting more. Studying for my MA (part-time over a couple of years) felt like a huge success to me, both creatively and in terms of learning to manage my energy levels.

Now a few years on from my MA I’m beginning to measure success in more financial terms. I spent a decade and a half on a very low income and over the last couple of years I’ve been working at increasing my income. I want to end 2011 earning at least £2000 a month (about US$3200) from my creative work, and I want to be earning it in a personally sustainable way. I went public with this aim a couple of weeks ago and have also launched a subscription based newsletter for anyone who would like to follow my progress (and maybe learn a little along the way too).

What in your opinion are the positives and negatives of technology when it comes to both creating and promoting your work?

Michael Nobbs – drawn iPad

I’m a technophile and happy to admit it. I think technology and the Internet offer huge opportunities to creative people who are willing to embrace them. Should we wish we can all be our own publishers, gallery owners and PR companies.

Do you collaborate with others or prefer to work alone, and why?

I prefer to work alone. This year I announced that I was no longer going to be directly exchanging my time for money. That means I’m no longer going to be working with or for people in the conventional way of being paid for providing a service or my time. Instead I’m going to concentrate on producing my own work, which I will either give away or sell via the web.

I’ve been moving in this direction for a while, reducing the amount of freelance work I undertake, and spending much more time working on my own projects and being in charge of deciding my own schedule.

I’ve learnt that this is by far the most sustainable way for me to work. Not having to deal with other people expectations (no matter how understanding they can be about my limits) is very liberating.

Is community important to you – either local or online – and if so, why?

Yes community is very important to me. I meet with a group of writers once a week and value their support and input hugely. I also have group of online creative friends who I keep in touch with via Twitter, Facebook and email.

I’ve always found consistency difficult in terms of learning a craft and then practicing it regularly – is this something you’ve mastered and do you have any advice on how to maintain this?

Focus and practice :) Easier said than done I know. I learnt a long time ago that having severe limits to my energy meant that I needed to be very selective about what I chose to use my energy for. It made far better sense to focus on one manageable creative practice than to spread myself thinly.

Moreover it was better to work on what was important to me regularly and in small pieces of time. Little and often really can build up a creative body of work. Even just twenty minutes a day can make a difference.

Thanks Michael, excellent advice indeed! Are you inspired by this interview and Michael’s gorgeous drawings? Why not say hello in the comments.

Enjoy this interview? You can be one of the first to read Michael’s new e-book Sustainable Creativity*, which includes inspiration and advice to help people with low energy or limited time (or both) maintain a creative life. It’s also beautifully illustrated by Michael himself (of course!) You can also download his free e-book Start to Draw Your Life.

*As you might have guessed these are affiliate links. Yes, I’ve liberally peppered this article with desperate attempts to make a pittance of small change because I’m determined to prove that I can earn some cash doing something I enjoy, in this case interviewing amazing people and letting you know about them :)