Hey Rebooters! Today we’re bringing you a wonderfully insightful episode with Janine Swann – web developer by day, writer & colour analyst by night. Janine opened up and talked to us about her creative struggles, a topic we’re always keen to dive into in more detail.
Starting with colour
Although not the main focus of our chat, we had to talk about colour – colour analysis is much-maligned and has an unfair stereotype attached to it – but as Janine explains, the process of finding the right colours for us is a properly magical process. Even really small things like navy mascara instead of black can make a huge difference to how you look and then in turn how you feel.
It’s also often the reason behind those odd pieces in your wardrobe that you pick up, try on and reject without really knowing why you don’t want to wear it. And our instincts about the colours that suit us are often spot on!
Finding the right shade is really important – would you believe that at one point Carla hated pink? Then she met Janine, had her colours done and discovered hot pink – and now everything from her hair to her kayak to a full load of washing every week is hot pink.
We love the passion that Janine has for colour analysis and the change it can create.
The creative journey and a surprising connection
Janine tells us about her interest in computers stemming initially from a love of writing and wanting to learn to type – and how this led to a computer science-based degree and her day job career.
Writing has always been there for her from childhood, but as adulthood crept up that dream had slipped away a little, and she talks about how it became clear that the missing piece in her life was the abandoned dream of writing.
We talk about web development and that thorny, ever-present question of if you do the thing you do all day, can you still do it in a different form in the evening after work, or would you have used up that creativity and oomph already?
Does doing two types of the same thing use up your creative energy more than doing the thing you love all day, or doing something entirely different in the day than you do after hours?
A chance encounter at a WI Girls meeting sparked a lifelong love of colour – an obsession that has spanned 11 years and shows no sign of abating!
And Janine’s story of finding colour is inspiring and very smile-inducing.
Following some self-development and life coaching, she realised something was still missing, and after meeting Carla she did a writing intensive with Kristen Kalp. We are all horrified at the passage of time between 2016 and now…!
Creating a better work life balance with then changing her day job to four days a week a couple of years later, meant that she had more time for writing which was so important to her wellbeing.
“My creative struggles have changed but there’s always something to overcome” – we can all relate to this, right?
First up is mindset and the feeling that writing (or your creative pursuit of choice) is play, frivolous, not worth spending time on. This often comes from our upbringing and the way we’re conditioned.
Janine is a wonderfully unconventional creative – her home is immaculate and she irons! But as she says, she realised that she didn’t realise the value of her own dreams… and the housework and cleaning had to take a bit of a back seat while she learned to write first thing in the morning without feeling guilty.
Being an Obliger (find your tendency here) is a struggle all of its own, putting other people’s needs ahead of your own. Coupled with a mindset from childhood of work before play, dinner before dessert, we can all recognise how hard it is to make the change to put your creative time first and prioritise it.
Recognising that your dreams are important (insert goosebumps here!). It’s ok for your creative dreams to take centre stage and be a priority in your life. You’re allowed to do the things you say you want to do. And some support is helpful in learning to do these things and creating strategies to make them happen.
What are you willing to give up, to have the life you say you want? Is it about creating new habits, or is it about taking stock of everything and working out what can move around to give you space for this important, precious habit?
Permission not to write every day? Granted – you’re so welcome! Turning up every day is NOT necessary, you don’t have to write every day!
What you do have to do is find what works for you, and carve out time for your creative habit. As Janine points out, it’s actually relatively little time that needs to be found, and it’s rare that you don’t have the time.
There are all sorts of things at play, from mindset to conditioning to expectations to fear, so finding the time itself is not often the sole reason you’re struggling creatively.
Sarah talks about not being able to read for a while and did a ten minutes a day challenge to create a new, small and growing habit of reading before bed.
What do you need?
When you sit down and the words aren’t coming, don’t berate yourself. Ask yourself – what do you need? Do you need tea, a break, reading, speaking to someone for a chat, bashing out your character/plot issues with a trusted fellow writer? Whatever the answer, self-compassion has to be part of it. We are ridiculously hard on ourselves.
Janine’s muse is a highly-strung creature, who will give you the V sign and fuck off if she is pressurised in any way. This made us laugh, but it’s very true – inspiration doesn’t happen under pressure, and taking the expectations and pressure away is a good start towards self-compassion.
We had a reminiscence of Big Magic because the three of us went to a Liz Gilbert event together what feels like a million years ago, and the way she talked about the ideas thundering towards you – this feels similar.
Valuing yourself based on what you can produce, your output and your results. Ouch.
This is a fascinating concept to us because, when the focus is on the output, it can lead to self-neglect. If we assume we have to make money from the things we spend time and effort on, it can have a big impact on our ability to just enjoy what we do with no other expectations.
Creating deliberate space for personal work, for creating with no expectations and no deadline or outcome – creative work for its own sake and for joy rather than for clients or deadlines or commercial sale.
There’s a story of a short story here – a joyful, flowing experience that arrived in the midst of second-novel syndrome for Janine. She says it’s making her appreciate how important it is to write the thing you’re most excited about writing. If you’re writing and having a great time, your reader will invariably have a great time reading it.
Glorious moments & excellent advice
Meeting Freya North at a retreat – and getting real, heartfelt compliments from her about her writing! Definitely a highlight!
Self-compassion is non-negotiable – it could be anything from a walk to a nap. Don’t worry too much about writing craft, writing mindset is more useful, especially at the start.
And your muse is essentially a cat and will do what she wants!
Here, from all three of us, is your permission slip to do what works for you. Regardless of any shoulds and any external pressure or expectations. And to be able to ask yourself – what do I need?
Get more Janine in your life
Find Janine at inlovewithcolour.com
Book & author recommendations: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, Freya North – especially The Turning Point.