I've always been pretty good at absorbing the feeling and energy of a moment or event, letting it generally inspire me and give me a lift, but not really DOING anything with it. When I discussed buying my ticket to a second Blogtacular, Mr M (perhaps quite rightly) questioned me on what I'd actually get from it - something actionable/measurable (just having a fab time and making new friends isn't enough it seems), so I did think quite hard (for 48 hours or so!) before taking the plunge.
If you've seen my Instagram, Twitter or last week's post about the photowalk, you'll already know that I had a brilliant time. Once again my takeaways are probably a little loose and random, but I thought I'd use this opportunity to share what I got up to on the day of the conference and set myself some actions.
Arriving at the venue on the Saturday morning I was greeted by lots of familiar, friendly faces which was fab - even if several people didn't recognise me with my new hair! We mingled, chatted, and consumed masses of tea (it was fairly early for a Saturday...) before heading in to the opening keynote - Lisa Congdon.
I've been a fan of Lisa and her work since I first discovered her - I think on Twitter - when I was on maternity leave (yes the little man is now 6). One of the reasons I've always found Lisa so inspiring is the fact that she started her art career in her 30s. Yes I studied fashion and textiles straight out of school, but I ended up spending 15 years working in the City (literally a stone's throw from the Blogtacular venue - which was odd - the last time I was there was for a meeting), so in a sense I've come to this world late too.
Lisa spoke about her career, introduced us to the vulnerability hangover (I think most of us could associate with this - I honestly feel that I've had one for over a week (maybe that's where the headache came from!) - but every time I try or do something new, or stick my neck out at all, I have this). Essentially this occurs when you've done something big - like public speaking, or in Lisa's recent case, letting a film crew follow her around and film her life for two days - and then regret it and assume everyone must think you're crazy/a freak/actually no good at anything. Anyone who really knows me will know this is me to a "T"!!
She also spoke about overwork and creative burnout - which I can relate to a little at the moment too. However I'm at such a different point in my career to her - I really feel that I can't afford to say no or take a break at all - I'm not exactly overwhelmed with opportunities as she has been, but it still very much struck a chord.
I came out of the session feeling quite fired up and ready to start the day - without making any of us speak, I think Lisa really helped to break the ice. Here I am below getting my book signed by Lisa - I also got to spend quite a bit more time chatting with her later and suspect I may now be a bigger fan than ever!
Next up, attempting to solve my ideas drought...
Kirsty Smith spent years coming up with ideas for TV shows for the BBC, Channel 4, ITV, Channel 5 and Sky and she led a workshop on Developing Content Ideas.
I have to say that when Kirsty told us to share an idea with the person next to us, I was somewhat stumped as my idea drought is currently quite severe, but I liked her process. My recent survey told me that some of the types of post I write are even less popular than the stats would suggest, and I was planning on binning them altogether, but Kirsty's session has led to a rethink (see my actions at the end of this post).
I also particularly warmed to Kirsty and her presentation style - she reminded me of someone I used to work with, but in a good way!
Next was lunch - and the food was good... I ate too much, and bought too many books I don't need... I bought Zeena Shah's new colouring book as a present for my parents for taking the little man for the day, and they loved it so much they tell me they won't be colouring it in!
First up after lunch, I finally met Sara Tasker when I joined her Phoneography workshop. Sara is a master of Instagram (if you don't already follow her @me_and_orla go and do it now - most people do though it seems!). Sara took us through some basics of using your iPhone, set us a little styling challenge, and provided a very useful Q&A at the end. I also got to sit next to, and catch up with, Lucy Heath who I haven't seen for years - the lucky folks who got to the props first got to play with her new photo backdrops - I'm quite excited to get hold of some of these when they're available to buy later in the summer.
After a short break, we moved on to the next session - I chose to join Laura Jane Williams for her Writing Workshop. Had a feeling this might be a bit scary (I've been to writing workshops before - they often involve reading too...), but it was fine (for me at least, I didn't read!).
Laura was really funny and engaging, and gave us plenty of useful tips - the main exercise involved one of my favourite things - cutting your writing down. I used to do this a lot at work, and I still do for certain things (including blog posts, if you'll believe it!). So she challenged us to write a passage, cut it down, then cut it down again... We then had to share with a neighbour and feedback to one another. Oh and yes, a number of people did read them out to the room, but not me!
One last break, then it was time for the closing keynote - already! Enid Hwang was the sixth employee at Pinterest (there are now 1,000s) and she took us through the story of the company's success - which was by no means immediate. Again, funny, engaging and inspiring - she left the room on a bit of a high!
Then the wonderful Kat Molesworth (centre in yellow in the first image in this post) closed the conference. I have to say a huge thanks to Kat and her team - apart from the obvious (creating Blogtacular in the first place) the event is just so well run and organised - everyone's so happy and approachable and helpful, even when busy. It really is the best thing to be a part of.
Finally, the goodie bags...
Now for those actions... here we go:
1. I think that part of my ideas drought/current funk comes from feeling like a bit of a fraud (Lisa Congdon spoke about not feeling like a "real artist" and getting over this) - so I'm planning to have a proper clear out/reorganise of my studio - get rid of the stuff that doesn't feel like me any more, re-do my inspiration wall... hoping this will help (I should also get a blog post or two out of it!!).
2. From the ideas workshop - taking the post ideas I already have that don't work very well and looking at them in a different way - maybe it's not the idea that doesn't work, but the format - how many formats are there? I need to brainstorm ideas in a different way - I drew a little chart in my notebook after Kirsty's session and I'm going to go back to this.
3. I'm going to make a proper effort to come up with some more properly collaborative blog posts - if you have any idea for something we could do together and want to get the ball rolling let me know!
4. I'm going to make more effort to keep and write in my many notebooks....
5. I've been working really hard on my Instagram account but I'm going to make more effort to keep it consistent to increase followers and engagement - I've already started limiting myself to 2-3 filters (and A Color Story - not Instagram's own!).
6. I'm going to use my other blog (Sunday's in Suburbia) to really work on improving my writing - as that's the one where I go for the full stream of consciousness thing...
7. I'm going to stop being scared of talking to people. Almost everyone I spoke to - speakers or not - knew who I was when I introduced myself. I need to stop being silly. Also need to stop worrying that people think I'm some silly kind of a fangirl (apologies to Lisa Congdon if I came across like that - hope I didn't - will stop worrying about it now!).
Anyway, I think that's it, but I'm sure I'll come up with more.
Thanks again to Kat and the team but also everyone I spent time with on Friday and Saturday - you all made my weekend/week./month with your enthusiasm. friendliness and just general fabness (I invented another new word!). Now I really think I need that lie down...