I got a fun request last week to write a little piece for a website called Thought Mixing Bowl. The site is a place for people to think and share about life, art, and community. There’s a new prompt every week, and a panel of people who write a response. The topic this week is:
What is the role of collaboration in your creative work?
My contribution is below, but check out the Thought Mixing Bowl yourself to see what everyone else has to say about collaboration.
Collaboration is my sanity. I work for myself, so I also work by myself, most of the time. I’m running a business that I started less than a year ago, and working the occasional freelance job. I’m constantly needing to do things that are out of my comfort zone, and often needing to do things that I find terrifying. It is only because of my inner circle of collaborators–fellow entrepreneurs, artists, makers, and risk-takers–that I can keep myself oriented to my goals instead of running in circles.
Every week for the last year-and-a-half, since I left my full-time job, I’ve met with two friends who took the leap to quit their “real” jobs around the same time I did. Being able to sit with these friends and go through the process of figuring out a non-standard life arrangement together, week by week, kept me from bailing out and giving up. Even though we are all pursuing different things, they keep me pointed in the direction I know I want to go in but would be too afraid to go on my own. They are my collaborators in the creative process of living a good life.
I also have a crew of “gut-check” collaborators–these are the people I go to when I’m tempted to second-guess myself into oblivion. They tell me that the comment I’ve drafted for an Instagram post is great, and I should just post it already and move on to making something new. They tell me that the thing I made is cool, and they would absolutely buy it. They read the email I spent all morning drafting and redrafting, and tell me to just send it already. They sit with me at craft shows and tell me to keep breathing (and smiling) when a hundred people walk buy and don’t buy anything.
It’s really easy for me to feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders, and my shoulders alone. I am a one-woman show: if I don’t do the things I need to do in order to grow my business, there is literally no one else in the world who will do them for me. There are people who will help me, though, and that’s what makes it possible to keep going.