Side Project: Conversations with Creative Heroes

Death to Stock writing prompt |

Sidenote: I love to write but sometimes get completely stuck on what to write. Prompts are a really cool way to kick through a writing block and keep me warmed up and in the practice of writing regularly. Sometimes the stuff that comes out is complete garbage. Sometimes there are some diamonds in the rough.

The fine folks at Death to the Stock Photo have been issuing thought-provoking writing prompts for some time now. If you’d like to participate, they post the prompts on their page at Medium.

Care to read more of my Death to Stock prompt responses?

Prompt #1 | Prompt #2 | Prompt #3 | Prompt #4 | Prompt #8 | Prompt #9 | Prompt #10

The prompt.

What’s your next side project?

My response.

Sometimes I feel like everything I do is a side project. It wasn’t until recently that I knew there was a name for my jack(jill?)-of-all-trades-ness:


I write. I sew and quilt. I practice and teach mindfulness. I help other creatives with their time management conundrums. I’m an instructional designer by “profession.” I dabble in surface design. I do a little voice-over work.

With all that, do I even have time to do anything else, much less a side project? Maybe cleaning my house. That would be a magnificent side project. I might be able to better differentiate the cat from the tumble weeds of dust that blow through.

But all kidding aside, I conceived of something late last year that sometimes keeps me awake at night. I listen to a lot of podcasts and, although I have no interest in starting a long-term podcasting project, there are some creative people I’d really like to interview. And maybe publish the interviews for other people to hear.

“Interview” might be a misnomer. I really just want to have conversations. I’m probably not a great conversationalist but I love to hear other creative people tell their stories and talk about what they do.

Sort of peek inside their brain.

Sometimes I’ll stumble on an artist’s website, or Instagram feed, and see their work and I’ll think: “Wow! What was their inspiration?” Instagram is a great way to look at the world through someone else’s eyes. But then I’ll wonder, “Why did they choose to share that image detail?” Or “What’s the story behind this image?”

I spent endless hours crafting really stupid artist’s statements when I was in art school. I would have loved it if someone had just asked me: “What was happening in your world while you were making this?” Or “What was occupying your thoughts when you designed this?” Or “How did you feel when you finished it?”

The answers wouldn’t have been as bullshitty or arrogant as an artist’s statement. Some answers might have been particularly inane or embarrassing. But at least it would have been real! (An artist’s statement is rarely “real.”)

Maybe all that stuff is too personal.

Maybe all we’re meant to see is the carefully curated images on Instagram. But I’m not personally satisfied with that.

There is a lot of vulnerability in putting our work out in the world. We edit the jagged edges to protect ourselves a little. We show people what we want them to see – or what we think they want to see. However, I feel like that adds a layer of unnecessary artifice to the magic of making.

So, what if I talked to some of my creative heroes? What if we could commiserate over the joy and frustration of what we make? What if I could hear about the banality of all those stitches or brush marks before they resulted in something magnificent? What if something surprisingly unrelated was the actual inspiration for their work?

Lack of time is a great excuse for letting this potential side project languish. Fear is the more likely culprit. What if no one wants to talk to me?

Or, God forbid…. What if they do want to talk to me?

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