amy poehler quote

I want to be around people who make things

I reflect on an Amy Poehler quote and how DragonCon friends epitomise the quote for me and push me to be my best “make things” self.

I want to be around people that do things. I don’t want to be around people anymore that judge or talk about what people do. I want to be around people that dream and support and do things.

Amy Poehler

In 2014, I was in my second year of Making Something Every Day. This Amy Poehler quote came across my awareness so I harnessed it in this tag book. It’s a good motto and I reflect on it pretty regularly. This this past week at DragonCon it was really top of mind for me. I am lucky to get to hang out with some amazingly creative people at DragonCon. Costume makers, storytellers, actors, producers, scientists, writers, and artists. People who do things. People who make things. What I’m struck by after this year’s convention is that these friends teach me so much.

They practice

All of them, every single one of them, practice their craft(s) almost every day. They make an effort to be present with the thing(s) they love intentionally. And that dedication shows. They improve year over year. They grow, learn, and adapt. Many of them take suggestions and fold them into what they are doing as needed.

While I know this for my own practice, I am blown away to see this in action for others. Yet the principle holds for these friends. I shouldn’t be surprised that this is true for others and yet I am. Nearly all of us aren’t born being awesome at the thing. We get good when we practice.

September 2016 DragonCon

They don’t keep score

These folks don’t spend time griping about what others are doing or keeping score when others might be ahead of them. They just keep working against their own internal metric. Nothing is less interesting that jealousy. Nothing is less supportive that competitiveness based on perceived slight. It’s draining to listen to someone be petty about this.

By working against my own goals and timetables I have room to see others where they are and appreciate the work they are putting in. Maybe their work is more or less than what I am doing right now but I can still appreciate where they are and what they are bringing. Being judgemental about it just kills the vibe.

They are cheerleaders

Being enthusiastic about what others are doing breeds confidence and allows people room to breathe and grow. Remember “Family Feud”? Where Aunt Sally gives an eye popping answer and the whole family claps for her? That’s what I’m talking about.

People around you who “yes and…” your ideas are magic. The riffing on ideas is contagious and really good things come from gab sessions where everyone is throwing ideas on the table. Get you a crew who cheers for you and wants your success. Do the same thing for them. This communal aspect of being a creative is one of my biggest needs. Without people around me who are interested in cheering for me and brainstorming with me, I get stale and lethargic.

They get in the game

They submit for contests. Or get on stage. They turn in book proposals. Or submit their work for shows. They sell on the internet or get booths at festivals. These folks don’t wait for someone to find them. They don’t spend time hoping to be discovered. They make things happen by getting themselves or their work out there.

My first gallery show in 2017.

I know, this is a scary big step that many of us never manage. But every single time I think “Should I?” I ask myself if will I regret it later. The answer is almost always yes. Am I rejected? Yes of course, rejections happen. But I know I will lose 100% of the things I don’t go for because I didn’t even put myself in the running.

The good news on this one is we can all start small. Figure out what your smallest possible ask is in your arena and go for it. What I’ve learned is that there’s more room at most tables than you might expect.

Am I perfect at any of these things? No, of course not. But being around folks with this mindset helps me practice and be better at it. I’m super lucky that I got a full cup at Con this year. What are your experiences with a creative group? Who makes up your craft circle? Let me know here or tag me on social media so I can see you and your group!