my #1 tip for creatives just starting out

I was interviewed for a podcast today and the host asked....

“What advice do you have for someone who’s just starting out working towards their creative dream?”


I said, “Do it scared. Don’t wait until you’re ready or until you have all your ducks lined up. Do it now, so you can do it wrong and learn from your mistakes. Take risks and have them not pan out so that you can build up your risk-taking muscle.”


As I answered, a montage of my own risks flashed in my mind. I don’t think I’ve ever been fully “ready” for any of the big things I’ve done. Decades ago, when I showcased my art publicly for the first time, I was far from ready. Sixteen years ago, we organized our very first Patchwork Show with no prior experience. Twelve years ago, I produced the first Craftcation Conference without ever having attended a conference myself. Four years ago, I became a parent, embarking on the most significant journey of all. Today, I poured my heart out to a total stranger during a podcast interview. And now, I sit in my backyard, writing this letter to you.


When I sat down to write this, I had no idea what to say. If I had waited until I knew the perfect first line, or even the first word, I’d probably still be waiting. Instead, I just sat down and started typing. Here’s what came out: “I’ve already cried three times today, and it’s only 2 PM.”


I then went on to write four paragraphs about how I cry less now than I did in my 20s and 30s but how lately I’ve been crying at inappropriate and awkward times. I continued on writing about being a crybaby until eventually I wrote, “I cried while watching a yellow swallowtail butterfly dip through the air in dappled sunlight back and forth between my yard and my neighbors. I didn’t just cry because nature is beautiful and WTF even is a butterfly except some mysterious flying piece of art. I cried thinking about all the times I wasn’t present enough to look up and see a butterfly. I cried for all the butterflies I’d already missed seeing and all the butterflies I would miss seeing when I died.”


Yep, things got dark. And that email is supposed to be a pep talk!


Then I thought about the podcast interview I did today and voila, I deleted the butterfly stuff and realized that what I needed to write about was doing it scared. That’s the pep talk. It took me almost a page of other stuff to get here but I got here.

E.L. Doctorow said, 

“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, 

but you can make the whole trip that way.”

Writing isn’t the only thing like that — much of life is the same way! We can’t wait until we know the exact path, are prepared for all possible outcomes, and feel completely “ready.” That time doesn’t exist.


What does exist is the moment you decide to take action, even if you only know that you’ll keep typing, painting, posting your creations on Instagram, or setting up at craft fairs until you reach your goal.


You commit to the process of moving toward what you want. You promise to do it, trembling and second-guessing yourself almost the entire way, but you also promise not to put down your paintbrush or stop typing. The only true failure is if you stop trying. 


That’s my challenge for you as we inch towards summer: pick something you really want to do (don’t stress, it can be small) and start doing it, even if you’re scared.


Do it E.L. Doctorow style—with the headlights on and your foot on the gas pedal. Keep writing, even if you have to wipe away tears when you pause to watch a butterfly.


  1. May I suggest something? Don’t answer that! LOL.
    The print on this page is so light against the white background, it’s very hard to read. Maybe I’m being unreasonable.
    If I weren’t interested in what you were saying, I’d just move on and find something else interesting to read. I liked your post.
    Thank you in advance.

    1. Thank you for the feedback. I’ll for sure take this into consideration when we give the website a refresh. Thank you for reading anyway and sorry to make it a struggle.

  2. Thank you Nicole, this was a lovely read to start my day!
    You’re so wise and so right, taking risks is always scary!
    But the older I get, the less I regret!

  3. I so needed this!! I am on leave from my day job and am reevaluating my entire direction! I am in the scared phase and not sure which direction to head, but feel it’s time to pursue all that makes me happy!!

  4. I’m so glad you included the part about crying, because I could so relate to that! Something turned in me when I became a mom, and now my tears flow so much more freely– at anything! But more importantly, this really was the perfect little pep talk. I know you said inching towards summer, but when I first read it my mind processed it as inching towards our goal. Will be doing both. Thanks so much!

  5. Just what I needed. I am just starting and feel as though I am to old and running out of time. And let’s not talk about anxiety , perfectionism and being an introvert! Thanks so much for this post. Your post always seem to give me the little nudge I need.

    1. I’m so happy you’re getting this little kick to push you to your goal. The only thing to regret is not taking that first step, no matter how old you are. Got for it!

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