The 2015 Fuck It List: #13 Being Creatively Well-Rounded

Back in 2014, I posted my 2014 Fuck It List based on and inspired by this most excellent post:

Welcome to my Fuck It list. Fourteen things I’m going to stop giving a fuck about in 2014. Because, as important as it is to push yourself to be a healthier, more compassionate person, that can be downright impossible. Refusing to give a fuck, however, isn’t just easy — it’s kind of awesome.

{Prehistoric Amber} The Fuck It List: 2014 | AmberL.Carter.com

So fuck it. Here are the fourteen things I’m going to stop worrying about come 2014.

– 14 Fucks I Refuse To Give In 2014

This year, I’ve made a list of 15 Things I Refuse To Give a Fuck About In 2015 (capitalized, because it’s IMPORTANT). But instead of trying to write and post a huge massive manifesto all at once, I decided to instead break my list down into bite-sized pieces.

15 Fucks I Refuse To Give In 2015: #13 Being Creatively Well-Rounded

 

A year ago, after a trip to LA, I set a goal of contributing to at least six online publications before the end of the year. I wanted to start pushing myself as a writer, and being a contributor was always something I had mentally played with – wouldn’t it be great to have a byline in ____? Boy, if I wrote for ____, that would really get my name out there! – so I decided to finally make it a reality.

A few months later, when the chance to become a contributing writer to an up-and-coming online publication came along, I jumped at it. I didn’t have a clear view of my contributing angle, or what exactly I wanted to write about month-to-month, but I told myself – and my editor – that I would figure it out.

Six months later, I had turned in exactly one piece, and had another piece drafted that I couldn’t seem to bring myself to polish up and submit. I kept telling myself – and my editor – that I would tackle it ASAP and get it in, but every day, inevitably, it would drop to the bottom of the totem pole, languishing on my to-do list. Every once in a while I tried to have a truth-telling session with myself about the fact that there was maybe a reason why I kept putting it off and that maybe I should re-think my commitment to this thing, but I would inevitably talk myself back into it – it made me well-rounded! It’s good for me to challenge myself! It’s great exposure! – etc.

Then it hit me that, while I was really great at practicing essentialism in my everyday physical life – I’ve deliberately designed my lifestyle so I have very low overhead and only have to work two and a half days a week, which gives me what I really want: lots and lots ‘o freedom to write and work on my own stuff – I had a hard time carrying that over into my creative life. I dug into the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, and about five pages in I knew what I had to do.

When you’re intent on making your own living through personal endeavors, it’s super easy to put yourself in what I call creative debt. It’s kind of like the Creative Version of FOMO…what if we started vlogging?…oh man, I just came up with a great idea for a t-shirt, maybe we should start our own t-shirt linelet’s make another calendar based on that one #AffirmationPets Instagram I just posted! etc. It’s like that scene in A Night At The Roxbury when Steve Butabi gets Hottie Overload…you’re trying to hard to say “what’s up” to so many different things that you forget to focus on the thing you came there for…which is to shake it to your favorite (creative) song.

For me, that’s writing some shit. And not just some shit…my shit. The main reason why I stopped taking on social media, digital content, and copywriting clients a couple years ago was because I hated having to focus on their stuff over my own. I resented having to push my stuff off to the side until I was done with theirs, which might sound selfish and babyish and unrealistic, but you know what? I’m being real. I like working on other people’s stuff the way I like my birth control: I think it’s a great idea in general, but when it comes down to it, I don’t wanna be responsible for it on a daily basis. It’s why I quit a decade-long career in behavior therapy to become a writer full-time…so I didn’t have to spend the majority of my day building someone else’s dream while my own settled for the left-over scraps of time and energy.

And after making such a huge move like that, I feel like I owe it to myself to do everything I can to give myself as much time and freedom to focus on writing the things I am meant to write.

To make every effort to fill my days with only the things I really love to do, and say fuck it to all the rest. 

So in 2015, I’m saying fuck it to being creatively well-rounded. I don’t need to challenge myself to do new things that are going to stretch me away from the things I most want to do. Instead, I’m applying the essentialist approach to my creative life: If it does not help me actively build my own creative empire, if it does not directly help me create more freedom in my life with which to write, if it does not give me that “oh yes mothafucka!” jazz hands feeling that only comes from truly creating something I love…then I’m not fucking doing it.

Oh, to end the story: I sent in my notice to the digital publication that I was bowing out as a contributing writer. I thought I would feel panic or remorse – waaaaait! Lemme go back and try again! – but I didn’t. I just felt relief…I no longer had this thing hanging over my head that I felt I should do but didn’t actually want to do. Which felt liberating and exhilarating and way more great than ever having that “contributing writer to ___” as a part of my bio did.

Essentialism, guys. It’s totally a rad thing.

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Want more posts like this one? Dig into some of the archives here and here. Your creative life will thank you for it. 

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About Amber L.

Hi! I'm Amber. I've been telling stories with books and blogs since 2004. I also spent 10 years working as a behavior therapist, which I now put to proper use by publishing thought pieces and dissertations on '80s pop music and the defining TV shows of our current times ('The Bachelor', 'Vanderpump Rules', etc). I can also be credited with single-handedly ruining the city of Portland, OR just by moving here.

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