Do you have a Secret Self?

Turns out I have five, although Emma only has three. I hope she doesn’t mind you knowing that. One of mine would like a table at the Ivy without booking. How is that creative?

Look, once you set your imagination rolling with an exercise like ‘What’s your secret self?’, of course you’re creating. Telling lies is creative, you know.

And so it was, that on a very cold Monday evening, a group of us sat down at the first Squatting Toad Creative Networking Evening to a) talk about our creative endeavours and b) get our creative juices flowing in exercises lead by the wonderful Tania Hummel of Thrive.

If you’ve listened to the podcast, you’ll recognise Tania’s name. We interviewed her a while ago for thoughts on creativity and on balancing your life. Catch it again here. She was the perfect leader for what I wanted us to achieve that night. It was all about removing barriers. Some of the questions she threw at us, we had to answer really quickly, without thinking. As she said, once you let your logical brain take over, it’s likely to find a reason why you can’t.

Some of the more personal questions were difficult. Who wants to remember why their parents thought their creative ambitions were pointless? But the answers reveal a lot about our own anxieties.

Don’t worry, the evening wasn’t too heavy. We ate a lot of chips and put the world to rights in our own way, and we made new friends too. Creating can be a lonely endeavour, and, although my online friends and followers are really important, it’s joyous to spend time with like-minded folk in the upstairs room of a London pub.

So, come join us next time. I guarantee it will be fun and enlightening.

Oh, and those secret selves? Well, we all had to come up with five, and it’s then that you realise how many personae you don for different situations. So, if fear and anxiety are holding you back, maybe don the most confident one when you create. Tania didn’t say we couldn’t mix them up.

On a personal and ‘isn’t it a small world?’ note, one of our number, Cynthia, is a performance poet. As soon as she said this, a lightbulb came on. Battersea Arts Centre, Christmas 2006. I can see her on the stage now. ‘Were you there?’, she asked. ‘I was the MC’. Seems I made less of an impression than she did! We both came away from the evening with a desire to perform again, so watch this space!

Until then, keep creating and watch out for your secret selves. Why not give them names and a full wardrobe of clothes.








Networking, but Socially

Disclaimer alert, friends. This isn’t, I promise, an extended advert for the event mentioned at the end of this post. (But, if you’re in London on March 7th, do come and join us.) What I wanted to do was merely reveal some of my thought processes. Creativity unmasked, if you will.

I came to the idea of doing a podcast by asking myself two questions. What am I good at? What would I like to be doing? The answer to the first is ‘talking’, so question two more or less answered itself. In truth, I think I missed my calling to be a radio presenter, but the great thing about our digital age is that I can make that happen for myself. Of course, ‘What am I good at?’ didn’t encompass technical skills, such as editing, but I was open to learning and am still working to improve on what I have learnt in a relatively short space of time.

So, now that I’m up and running, and have written some blogs and made some episodes, I need to reach people. The obvious method is through the array of social media that abound these days. I’ve been posting on Facebook and have become a complete Twitter convert. I think it’s the shortness of it; 140 characters and no punctuation, what’s not to like? But, fun as it is, there’s something missing. So, I asked myself again, what am I good at? What is the best way I can promote myself? Well, duh, face to face, that’s how.

It can’t be just me that thinks all this ‘social’ networking can be anything but. Meeting people, talking and, crucially, listening, has still got to be the best way to promote what you do, especially if what you do best is – YOU! I find once I take myself out of the equation, and stare at a screen, aching for just one extra Twitter follower, I am in danger of ploughing a lonely furrow. I love the immediacy of the online connections, but, when someone gives me a ‘like’, I want to hear about them. It’s a bit like starting an interesting conversation at a bus stop, just as the other person’s bus arrives….and they’re gone.

So, I’m trying to get out and about. I’ve already written about Spark London’s Storytelling evening last month, and I’ll go to one of those again soon. I was at a music open mic night on Sunday, and there might well be an upcoming podcast on that. Who can say? I’m off to a huge craft fair in April. I’m hoping to take EmmaLucyMakes with me. Someone to talk to, and someone who knows what the heck we’re looking at. Crochet, anyone.

As creators, of course, we need time alone to create, but we also need to get out and talk to people. Anyone who’s sold their crafts at local fairs will tell you that. Maybe what you’ll hear from your customers, or potential customers (we are all customers, in the same way as we all have something to sell), is not what you expected, or even wanted to hear, but it’s best that you hear it. Online connections are great, and I truly value mine, but I need to be out in the world.

My next step was obvious. A networking evening. I can’t wait. I can talk about what I’ve been doing and hope people are interested, as well as hear about what they’re up to. We’ll all learn something and, I hope, have some fun. That what’s I call truly social networking. Come and join us. It’s Monday March 7th in a historic pub in London, W1. More below.


Let’s show the world we can really network, and be truly social.