You’ve heard the saying, practice makes perfect – the idea that if we devote ourselves to doing something with regularity, we’ll almost certainly improve and grow better at things just through sheer repetition.
Well, last year Amanda Sandlin discovered kind of by accident that practice has the power to crack us open, too, if we do it in a certain way.
She discovered that dedicating to just doing creative work every day, without judgment, without even necessarily trying to make money, can actually help us uncover our own voice and aesthetic. You know, that way of making or doing or expressing yourself that feels fully and completely you.
Yeah, that thing so many of us struggle with.
Amanda was struggling with it too, this time last year. She’d studied journalism and done a few writing gigs, then fell into graphic design after somewhat incredibly teaching herself how while working fulltime for Danielle LaPorte.
Then came an opportunity to move across the world to New Zealand, the perfect chance to go freelance. Thing was, Amanda had no idea what her real voice or style was.
So, she started what she called The Year of Making.
For an entire year, she gave herself full creative freedom to make anything she wanted. No judgment. No pressure. No need to sell anything. No need to even like what she was making. Just one condition: make something new every single day, no matter how small. 365 days. 365 pieces of creative expression.
Her Year of Making began in January 2015. In the months that followed, Amanda tried everything. Typography, illustration, stop motion photography, video blogging, even sewing – which she reckons didn’t work out so well. Sometimes she’d realise at 11pm that she hadn’t yet made something that day and have to scurry off and get making.
Of course, it was hard to keep up the momentum at times. But Amanda found that, after months of consistently showing up and doing the work, she began to make art that felt like an honest expression of herself, for the first time in her life.
Things get pretty deep pretty quickly in this interview. In the first few minutes, Amanda goes to a place even she wasn’t expecting and reveals a part of her life story that she’s rarely spoken about publicly. I reckon there couldn’t be a better demonstration of just how wholeheartedly she’s learned to express herself over the past year.
In this interview, Amanda shares:
+ How being self-taught made her feel like an impostor, and how her Year of Making helped her shift into fully owning her creativity.
+ How she found her own aesthetic and voice simply by dutifully turning up to do the work every day for a year.
+ Why she believes totally free yet regular creative experimentation – even if you don’t like what you’re making – is the number one way to crack yourself open and find your true voice.
+ How she turned an internet hater into an empowering moment and a brand new art product for sale.
+ Why she’s against people waiting around for the perfect business or creative idea, and how you can get started right now, even if you have no idea what your end game is.
+ Why she’s so damn honest on social media. No pretending to be perfect. No showing only the great moments. And how that helps to build real human connections.
+ How she’s built an online, virtual support network with people living all over the world after moving to New Zealand and away from her “in real life” community.
Listen to the podcast:
My favourite quote from Amanda’s interview is:
Resources Amanda mentions in this interview:
+ Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert.
+ Experiment: The Less Complicated and ReallyReally Fun Way To Become Self-Employed – Amanda truly helpful eBook, which also happens to be lovely to look at.
+ #theyearofmaking on Instagram.
+ Do you have the right idea? – blog post by Amanda on why she experiments with little ideas each day rather than waiting for her big, perfect, right idea.
+ Sian Richardson – a creative entrepreneur living in New Zealand and a constant source of IRL support and friendship for Amanda.
Okay, so these next ones aren’t resources that Amanda particularly mentions in this podcast. But her Instagram account is a constant source of beautiful, brave and damn inspiring insights. No pretending to be perfect. Just honesty. Here’s a couple of my faves:
+ On going after your dreams, even when shit gets tough.
+ On why she went against all the conventional advice and ditched (for now) plans to create an online course.
+ On what happened when, after a year of making, the well felt like it had run dry – until she asked the universe/god/higher power/whatever for help.
+ On the frustrations of trying to be creative when it just won’t come, complete with an oh-so-real post-frustration cry photo.
Yeah. Her Instagram is great. Get over there.
Connect with Amanda at:
- Website: amandasandlin.com
- Instagram: @amandsandlin
- Facebook: /amanda-e-sandlin
- Snapchat: @amandasandlin
- Periscope: @amandsandlin
What did you like best about this conversation with Amanda? Share it with us in the comments below.