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Simple Themes to Lessen Instagram Drama

Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Instagram is one of the most prominent forms of social media. Everyone uses Instagram in some way. But I'm going to voice an unpopular opinion: Instagram isn't really that great. The visual-based platform can get overwhelming and annoying, especially if it's secondary to another project. Plenty of users are successful at getting reach and engagement. They hustle. For me, Instagram requires a level of obsession that I don't have. Also I'm a writer and hate taking pictures of myself sooo... If you're like me and you aren't willing to put the energy into making Instagram your main focus (or even one of them) but know you should at least try, this post is for you.

Thanks to this post on Career Girl Daily, I was moved to think on how I could make Instagram simpler since I kind of hate it so much. CGD had some great tips on how to clean up your profile to gain more followers and promote your brand by choosing a single theme for your photos. Having a theme will help guide the photos you take, giving your profile a potentially cohesive look, and a theme will attract the right audience. Choosing a theme that fits right off can be difficult. These suggestions should help you streamline Instagram without taking up all of your time because they are simple and involve things you're probably already looking out for.

Note: If you don't care what your Instagram looks like/don't have a reason to make it look pretty/don't care what anyone thinks - First of all, I applaud you. Second, keep it up.

Choose a topic (or two) from your daily life
My personal account has been through so many changes (and subsequent purges). Thankfully I've finally settled on a theme of the topics that influence this blog: being a mom, being in a band, and being Mormon. These are easy for me because they are what I am already doing which works out because I'm not forcing myself to create experiences that aren't real. Having only a couple things to post about limits unwanted photos when you look back and makes life a whole lot easier.

Consider what you spend your time doing, what interests you, or what you value. It could be anything: food, politics, education, fashion, reading, movies, family, animals, nature... Then think of different ways to show that in your photos. Food is an easy example. You could take photos of food you make, restaurants you try, special occasions you're celebrating, people you're sharing meals with, cookbooks you're interested in, and on and on. Don't limit yourself but just remember to keep it simple.

Memorialize what inspires you

In a project I worked on for a local painting company took pictures of the area the company worked in and captioned the photos with paint colors. Because the company only worked in a specific area, clients had a source of inspiration from their own backyard. The same goes for photographing your own inspiration. Post photos of things in the world that catch your eye. Nature, people, and quotes from books are a great place to start. You could also take it to the next level by adding a relevant quote. Double inspiration!!

Capture your "Currently..."
I really enjoy "Currently..." blog posts. In fact, this blog almost became only a series of posts about what I was currently doing or feeling. These posts are fascinating because they actually require more thought than we assume. There is purpose in watching a certain movie or wearing certain shoes or finding ourselves in a certain place. Can you imagine putting that into a photo? I don't know if I should swoon or drool from satisfaction... Be careful not to think this is just any random snapshot. Otherwise your photos will become messy and incoherent pretty fast. To counter this make sure your posts are singular and possess real meaning.

Share your work or hobby
My brother is a photographer and videographer. His Instagram consists of his photos captioned with what equipment and settings he used to get that exact composition. Bloggers do this as well, sharing the photos from their posts or behind the scenes of what they're working on. Artists, writers, and even teachers do the same. If there is something about what you do that can be photographed, get out there and do it! Whether it's a morning coffee with coworkers before a big pitch or a cute dog you met while on your evening jog, use your Instagram for you. 

I hope these ideas get the juices flowing and help you dream up a way to represent yourself well. Instagram is about sharing a story, YOUR story, your photos. Good luck and don't try too hard!

Updated 8.8.2017

Tips for Keeping Yourself Inspired and Creative

Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Being creative is part of our very being, it's necessary for life. David O. McKay once described our innate creativity like this: "Sculptors of life are we, with our uncarved souls before us. Everyone of us is carving a soul." What an attitude to have, right? When we are in creation mode we can reach our potential as human beings. *mind blown* Actively and consistently tapping into our ability to create can give us special experiences. Being creative is a huge part of how we progress, and other times how we cope. Using our creativity is also a great way for us to make connections and share ourselves with others.

We don't think of our own creativity this way very often. The assumption, first, is that there are "creative types" or only certain ways that we can be creative (i.e. in visual art). Thankfully, the reality is we are all creators. I remember reading something once that baking a cake is an act of creation - making something from seemingly nothing. So if you've baked a cake or written in a journal or loved a pet or upcycled your jeans, then you are creative. That's beautiful.

A second assumption is that these "types" are just on All. The. Time. In a way that is true, which I'll get to in a minute, but the reality that we should come to learn is that inspiration comes and goes. Most often this is without our influence. Thus the challenge becomes how to keep and use inspiration when it does arrive. Such skill is a lot of what my life as a "multi-passionate creative" (don't you just love that phrase??!) is like. My band, QOK Music, wrote its first song almost 10 years ago. And I've been writing for this blog for over two years. There's also been some less-than-profitable freelancing in my past and the occasional DIY or crafty project. All of that has come with tons of trial and error, and deadlines, which makes me feel a bit practiced at harnessing creative energy. The answer is, essentially, as Marvel hero Dr. Bruce Banner put it, to be always angry inspired. The following is what my experience has taught me about keeping my creative receptors ready and raring to go.

Accept that creative energy can be fleeting

The first step is recognizing that while creativity is part of our DNA, we aren't always in control of it. If you're having a day absent of innovation and lacking drive, take a deep breath and say these words out loud: "I am destined to create. Today may not be that day, but that doesn't change who I am and what I am capable of." Heck, tell yourself this everyday. Because it's true. You'll hear that "creative types" have very high highs and polar lows which comes from the ebb and flow of energy that comes with inspiration. Once accepted, you can plan and use your creativity to your advantage.

If you're having a perfectly expressive day, give yourself a Self High-Five and run with it! Use it all up because once the mojo is gone you don't know when it's coming back. Just sayin'.
    Make time for some right-brain thinking

    In a manner of speaking, creativity can be channeled - to the right, willing vessel. One must be open, ready, and waiting for the strike. Making time to be creative is an important outlet. Or I guess in this case, in-let through which inspiration can enter and settle. Choose a specific time (and place) to return to your work.  Write for twenty minutes in bed after the kids are asleep? Great. Planning out your new business every Thursday over dinner? Awesome. Organizing your home one hour each day? Go get 'em! One of my favorite goal setting apps might help you get started. But honestly, just set a timer or alarm and stick to it. Little by little you'll have your masterpiece finished and ready for show!

    Jot it down, sketch it out, outline it, picture it

    Imagine this: You're out to dinner with your best friend. During your conversation you think of a great line for a song. You say to yourself, "Wow, I'll have to write that down when I get home." The night goes on and now you're getting into bed. You reach for a pen and paper to write down that great idea only to realize... You've forgot the line! Heart-breaking.

    GUYS. That was me!!

    I can't tell you how many great songs have gone unwritten by my hand because I was lazy or unprepared. I've since trained myself to put my thoughts in a place I won't forget or lose them. Generally that is my phone. For song lyrics I have a running list of random phrases in Evernote. It is available for both Android and iPhone, and you can get it on your computer or access it online. Plus the program has no storage limit. AMAZING! I also use Google Sheets for a list of my blog post ideas. In one column I have the general concept, the next is a quick summary of my thoughts or points I want to make, and finally a column to put the date it was published so I don't keep posting the same thing.

    Digital isn't the only way to do it, though. A journal or sketchbook that you carry around is perfect. Trust me. This is a huge creativity-saver. When the time comes to work you'll thank yourself for having a place to start.
        Look for inspiration in a work, person, idea you already know and love

        A few years ago, my brother read the book Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon (non affiliate). My brother raved about this one particular concept, saying it put his creative process into perspective. You could say a third assumption about creativity is that we have to make a whole new thing out of thin air in order to be creative. False. According to Pablo Picasso (most likely), and championed by Kleon, "...great artists steal." Yeah! It's, like, understood and accepted that art is a process of pulling pieces from others and then creating from that.

        What this means for us is on those truly, devastatingly missing our creative spirit days we still have something to work with. We can look to those who inspire us to motivate us to make because they made too. What this means for you is to sit back and let someone else do the work haha. Visit a museum to look at memorable paintings, see a play for the hundredth time, reread your favorite book, watch a TED talk given by a person you admire. Like a car with a dead battery, jump start your engine with a surge from a familiar source. Then when you're ready go off to do your thaang.
            WOO! Now I'm totally pumped! And were it not for a little girl that would be waking up from a nap any minute I'd be moving on to another post. How are you feeling? I hope you're feeling inspired to create. Go meet your destiny!!! Good luck!

            Updated 8.19.2017

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