The Creative Polygamist, Or Why I Have No Time for a 1D World
Often I feel like a 4D person in a world that wants 1Ds…
No, no, before you all eat me alive, not THAT 1D… though my daughter knows I’m hardly their biggest fan. No, I’m talking about 1 dimensionality.
In social media land we are expected to be one-dimensional if we want to be successful… We need to specialise. Find your niche within a niche. And stay there forever. God, even typing that makes me feel cold and clammy and a little sick. It feels like death.
If you want to hit the big time, the main advice is focus on one thing. If you want Instagram followers by the K you need to just do books. Or monochrome. Or gluten free baking. Or dresses made of flowers. Or #coloursorganisedneatly.
Stardom requires specialism. A little box with your very own unique label… but not TOO different to everyone else. So that people know where to put you, how to classify you. What to expect.
A little box… like a little coffin, to contain your lifeless bones.
We live in a world which worships at the altar of monogamy… in the triune of sexual, spiritual and creative expressions: one partner, one professional identity, one God, till death do you part.
Be a writer. Of vampire thrillers. Nothing more or you’ll just confuse people.
People hate it when “their” creative stars reveal their multi-passionate sides. Johnny Depp as a painter and rock musician. John Cleese as Basil Fawlty, not a marriage guidance counselor. Hugh Laurie as a comic actor, not a serious jazz musician.
But most humans are not 1D and creative people even less so. Sure there are specialists in all fields, who can only do one narrow thing.
But most of us are generalists. Dabblers in many things. Amateurs with many strings to our bows. Joyous devourers of life. Polyamorous lovers of many things. Polymorphous beings in a mono-manic world that wishes to control us and our passions… that just wants us to be quiet and ‘put it away’ and keep our other distasteful dabblings as dirty little secrets in private.
I am all for open expressions of love in all its forms. Amateur is not, in my eyes, a dirty word, as I shared last week, here on the blog. I am a scanner – a multi-passionate individual… A little look down my About page will tell you that I am a writer, an editor, a publisher, an artist, a blogger, a teacher, with a passion for baking, zentangles, world-changing and sex. Trying to fit “me” into your average short bio is a challenge I hate.
And for years I lived with the shame of this in our monochrome, monogamous, monolithic, monotheistic world. I was too much. I wasn’t focused enough. I was immature and flaky. I need to decide WHAT I was and then just be that. I needed to contain myself, limit myself, just grow up and choose something. Commit, damn it!
But then I learned there were words, whole categories of people, just like me… and it revolutionised my world.
I got to be ME. A multi-passionate creative.
I need more variety than most… I NEED to do lots of different things to keep myself productive. But how do you brand that? How do you put it together in some cohesive package so that people “get” what it is you do?
What I have learned is that I cannot specialise – to do so is to kill off my own unique genius – all the things that I do, inform all the other things I do – each part enriches the other. So YOU may not be interested in my editing, or the fact I love food writing, or my vibrant paintings of lost feminine archetypes, or my womb work, or my passion for women’s creativity, or obsession with spirals – but each part informs the rest…(as I explored in this post about the images that precede my words.)
You may not want to buy that bit or share it with me… and that’s just dandy… but I need to do it. It is an integral part of me.
And you do too, my love, you need to nurture ALL your bits, your quirky, contradictory, don’t-fit-into-any-neat-box bits… they are YOUR keys to your unique genius… and they matter. And though they might not get you the world’s biggest Instagram following… they will bring you something richer and deeper, substantial and sustainable – your OWN satisfaction, self-understanding, a sense of being true to yourself, and authentic connection with those who resonate with your work. It will bring you the ultimate gift of your work and purpose of your life: YOU expressed out in the world.
Top Tips for Multi-Passionate Creatives
- Find a way to curate your passions and talents that works for YOU.
- You may chose to have separate blogs or businesses for each one, so that certain worlds don’t necessarily cross over for your customers – some might be private/ hobby/ side ventures and others your “main thing”.
- You can indulge multi-passions in Pinterest with a different board for each – I’ve gotten to 16K followers that way.
- Same with Facebook – you can have multiple pages with different identities and communities – as I do with The Happy Womb, Lucent Word, Dreaming Aloud, Womancraft Publishing and The Queen of Puddings
- Find the sweet spot and cross-over and allow many of your passions to combine – as I do here on Dreaming Aloud – we have creativity, mindfulness, creative entrepreneurship and world changing… a funny mix, which I occasionally get a clear idea of how they work together – as they come into focus for a moment. But don’t try to fit EVERYTHING into one…
- Your blog, your business, your say – if your focus changes, your passion evolves, it can be hard for the people who loved who you were and what you used to do to adapt – they want the old you. You will lose some readers as you evolve, it can feel uncomfortable… but you cannot sustain what is no longer true for you… You will lose people.. but you will find yourself. And you will keep lots with you… and you will attract new folk too who resonate with who you are and what you love now. You don’t owe anyone the gift of who you were before.
- You still have finite time – the same 24 hours as everyone else – so you do have to prioritise, and leave a lot of ideas as dreams, rather than burn yourself out. Not doing everything now isn’t the same as not following your dreams, it’s called respecting your human reality…
- Respect your limits – rest a lot, take complete breaks, vacations, slash your to-do-lists in half, prioritise self-care, admit when passion has morphed into crazy.
- Let yourself have hobbies – see here – so that you can enjoy one of your passions as a passion without a requirement for professional standards, selling the results etc.
- Learn to “ground” your energy in healthy ways, before you burn out … otherwise others will ground you, and keep you grounded and bring you back down to earth “for your own good”.
- Remember you can’t do ALL of it, all at the same time – have different time lines and time frames for each passion. Some projects may have to go on the back burner, or the long finger. Learn to prioritise. Slowly, slowly catchy monkey!
- OWN your RIGHT to be a multi-passionate creative. Wear it as a badge of honour. Learn more about it. Reframe it – from being fickle, immature, unable to commit – to understanding it as being dynamic, exciting, authentic and more attuned to the creative spirit, the ever-changing source of creativity and your own multi-dimensional nature.
- YOU make the rules. No one else.