I could start this blog post in so many different ways, each one leading to the same conclusion and I’ve been unsure how to begin it. I didn’t write a post last week and I didn’t write one yesterday (my weekly blog posts go out every Wednesday) and I think there are probably a number of reasons for that. I’ve allowed myself the break, but also I haven’t been in the right headspace to write anyway – so many things whirring around.
I’m also having crazy dreams at the moment. Last night I dreamt I had to get the train to London to pick up my car, and I was walking with my phone showing me the way to get to the train station, but the sat nav broke and I didn’t know where I was going, or how long it was going to take me, or why my car was even in London when I was somewhere completely different! I woke up, told my husband and he said; ‘hmmm, you’re lost, you don’t know where you’re going, or how to get there – what could this possibly mean?’ He was being sarcastic of course, and as ever is very intuitive of why I am feeling the way I am.
So maybe this is where I begin my post…
A few years ago when I was in need of creative community and support, I set up Creative Women Together – a regular networking event bringing together groups of brilliant creative women, and allowing them a safe and fun environment in which they can share their ups and downs of running a business. I’ve continued to run them as often as I can, with different inspiring speakers each time. However, over the last few months there has been a slow decline in attendees to the point that I’ve decided to stop running them. It’s gut wrenching and I think the root of why I am feeling displaced at the moment.
When the reason you begin something comes to a close, you wonder what your purpose now is.
I am struggling with my purpose.
I'm not ashamed to say this. I think it is important to acknowledge when you are struggling, and try to work out how you can move forward from it.
In my case I am looking at what is working.
I am still running workshops – although not as well attended as I would like, they are still running, and I have already booked my Autumn ones in. I am still supporting a number of creative women. I am still working on a couple of websites and still managing some digital marketing. I am still receiving emails with opportunities. So it’s good – it really is, but somehow I feel like things have shifted.
I completely understand why it has happened, and there is no-one or nothing to blame. People are busy, people have kids and commitments, people are trying to run their business, trying to fit in all that goes along with that, and don’t necessarily have time for heading out to natter with friends. Or finances are tight, or they are shy or scared or something else…. I get it – I really, really do. But I can’t help but blame myself – it’s something I’ve done wrong, they aren’t what people want or need, I’ve not marketed them enough, I’m charging too much – all those thoughts that go through your head when something isn’t working out.
But because they were how I started this journey, they were my main focus and now that has been taken away. So I’m struggling. And it’s just making things hard to wade through at the moment – so for this I apologise.
Now, I do love a good analogy and you also know how much I love my dog walks.
I joked a few months back at a blogging workshop when we were talking about blog titles, and how you can play with words, or subjects – I remember saying ‘5 reasons why running a business is like walking your dog’ as a suggestion for a title and it causing laughter amongst us all. But there are probably more than 5! Every time I walk I think about the metaphors. Tripping up, wading through mud, running to catch up, going down the wrong path, coming across someone doing the same thing – I could go on!
But this particular walk, on this particular day, with these particular thoughts going round in my head, it proved more relevant.
I’ve got a few favourite routes to take, and a few months ago, one of them got a bit waterlogged. There was a massive puddle in the middle of the mud path which (as more walkers and horses and dogs waded through) got practically impossible to get through. Walking round the edge, getting ripped by brambles wasn’t much fun, so a new path was slowly starting to appear every time I walked that way. It was hard at first because it hadn’t been cleared, but it was slightly easier than the mud laden one. As the days and weeks passed, the new path got so much clearer, and so much easier to walk through. So much so, that the first path is now completely overgrown and almost impossible to see now. What I’m also finding is the second path is just as beautiful as the first.
So what has this taught me? Well, my creative women groups were my main path – they were clear, beautiful and simple to organise, and they were so for quite a while. But then they started becoming harder to fill, more difficult to attract interest and, although lovely, just that much more of a struggle.
So it is now time to carve out a new route.
Where or what my new path to replace them will be I’m not quite sure. I know that I adore being with groups of brilliant inspirational creatives, and so I would love to replicate what I have been doing – but it is looking like it will have to be in another capacity. I’d love to explore funding, more venues, different cities, different ideas – but I don’t think I’m quite ready for that as yet.
I am still running lots of digital marketing workshops - keep checking in to see what and when as I am always adding to them. I am still offering mentoring as well as lots of other support. I have online workshops planned and (almost) ready to go. I am still running monthly creative surgery sessions in Exeter, which you are welcome to pop along to – you can find out more here. I still have a great supportive online group of creative businesses who are always on hand. I also have a couple of exciting partnerships developing in the background.
I’m not going anywhere.
I just need to discover my purpose again, and make my new path that much clearer.
Can you relate? Are you struggling with any of this? If you’d like to talk then please do get in touch. I’d love to hear from you.
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01884 266045 / 07969 044006