{Podcast 024} Amanda Sandlin on how to find your true voice by making, making and making some more

Amanda Sandlin

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:

Listen via iTunes Listen via Stitcher

My favourite quote from Amanda’s interview is:

Amanda Sandlin on making for She Makes Magic: The Podcast Series

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:

What did you like best about this conversation with Amanda? Share it with us in the comments below.


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3 Responses to {Podcast 024} Amanda Sandlin on how to find your true voice by making, making and making some more

  1. Anokina Shahbaz (@AnokinaS) March 18, 2016 at 11:29 am #

    You guys! Loved this interview… it was so gentle and moving and inspiring. Amanda is a sweetheart; her voice is so kind and loving. I could listen to her for hours. In fact, I’ll probably listen to it again. I loved her honesty, her authenticity, and just how real she was. Seems like she has an amazing take on life and creativity in general. What really resonated with me at this particular time in my life was when she talked about being down but not taking anti-depressants because they would’ve masked the real source of her pain. I’ve been ‘weighing my options’ and had considered anti-depressants and was waiting for a “sign” from the universe as to whether or not I should take them. I’ll take this as my sign not to :). Her story was so inspirational and plain at the same time, which is what I loved about it. She is ‘everywoman’… I also think it’s so important that she highlighted the need to experiment and that it’s OK to shift. THANK YOU! Oftentimes in a creative life we can feel like failures if we move from one medium to another. I know I do… But to hear her interpretation of not everyone’s meant to do just one thing in life was so refreshing. Thanks for this beautiful podcast and thank YOU Amanda for sharing your story and your truth. Much love to you all lovely souls!

    • Koren March 18, 2016 at 4:50 pm #

      Hey Anokina, I’m thrilled to bits that you got so much out of this podcast – it’s one of my favourites so far! Amanda truly does have such a unique and inspiring perspective on creativity. It actually motivated me to get going on a creative project I’d let fall by the wayside for far too long. Yay! Good on you for following what feels right for you re the antidepressants, too. Just remember, you can always reach out for help in other ways to help explore and move through your feelings. Alana and I both get loads out of regular kinesiology sessions, for example. Good luck on your creative journey, you wonderful human, you!


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