This month we have turned the blog over to Ambre, a poet studying creative writing at UWE in Bristol. In a series of articles, Ambre will be delving into what it means to shape your life around your creative passion.
First up is creative identity, we challenged Ambre to find out more about herself and in the process start to create a more concrete picture of her own creative identity. Read along to see how she got on and find out some creative exercises you can do to figure out exactly what makes you tick.
Standing out from the crowd
As a young creative it’s hard to stand out from the crowd, forming an identity as a creative is a good thing, people want to know the person behind the art. This helps people resonate with you, which means they’d be more willing to buy from you if you have a lot of the same values. Which in turn will drive up sales.
I am Ambre, a writer, I am 23 years old and I study English Literature and Writing at UWE, Bristol. My genre of writing leans more towards poetry, and I have published a few collections on Wattpad. In this article, I will be discussing creative identity, how to brand yourself as a creative, and how to stand out and form a creative identity.
I will do this by using my own experiences and my own findings, as a young creative as a basis for what I discovered and how I created an identity for myself, in case anyone else was interested in doing the same.
The way I see it, find out what you’re good at, and what you want to do with your life and take steps towards achieving that goal. I set myself realistic steps in order to achieve my goals. This started two, nearly three years ago when I went to University to try to broaden my knowledge of literature and improve my writing, I was then inspired to produce some poetry collections and publish them online, as well as that I entered a few poetry competitions.
This was the start of developing a creative identity for myself. It is important to find your niche and go with it, creating a plan of action and setting steps in order to achieve your goals.
“Find out who you are and do it on purpose”
From the moment we are born, we start to find out who we are, our likes, dislikes, our favourite colours, or least favourite. As we grow we discover more and more about who we are. Our value is not placed on our identity but our identity has value. It represents our unique individuality and that is an important part of being creative. How we perceive ourselves and how we are influenced throughout our lives is something to be showcased!
Someone who is a creative individual, such as myself, could go about doing this by broadening their artistic horizons, and finding out what they do well, and what they don’t do as well, I tried a couple of writing mediums until I found the genre that suits me best, poetry.
I tried to get into crime-fiction writing and I even started my own crime fiction novel, got to about 10,000 words, and lost the inspiration to write it anymore.
However, I am inspired by poetry, I have always been drawn to expressing myself through words, and poetry is so personal, it is a way of getting to know the inner workings of someone’s brain and their personal lives and experiences. Poetry allowed me to relate to others on a more personal level as I resonated with the works of poets who inspired me, such as Rupi Kaur.
I aimed to write poetry that others could relate to, using my own experiences. I wanted people who read my poetry to feel comforted, to know that they’re not alone in what they’re going through, and hopefully help them find some peace whilst reading my poems.
As part of my research for this article, I did a Myers-Briggs test, a test that indicates what kind of personality you have, as there are 16 personality types according to the Myers-Briggs test, they determine this based on your answers to the questions.
I got the result of the Mediator (INFP-T) personality type, which resonated with me. Many mediators are curious about the depths of human nature, and they often make an effort to understand other people’s true feelings. This can make them capable of great empathy and it also allows them to communicate in ways that are sensitive and moving. People with this personality type enjoy work that helps inspire and help others, which is why it’s no surprise that I wanted to help others not feel alone when it came to my poetry.
Mediators are often poets, writers, or actors, which made me realise that the goals I set for myself and my future were definitely in line with my values and my strengths. This was a great test to figure out how my perception of myself lined up with my true self, at the core, which is a good way of finding out your true identity which definitely helps with the creative aspect of that, too.
A life with personal values is a well-lived purpose-filled life
Our personal values are all part and parcel of who we are, having a clearer idea of who we are will help us develop better ideas and perceptions of the outside world. People who know their identity aren’t usually swayed by people pressuring them, or made to believe they aren’t worthy of achieving their goals.
People who have a higher sense of self have better self-esteem, better self-sufficiency, and have more motivation to achieve their goals. I for one would love to have more of that in my life! I think we should all strive to get to know ourselves better. Once you discover what your core values are you can begin to find purpose and direction for your life, as you get to know more and more about what things you deem important, and what you deem not so important.
To try to get a better sense of my values I did a Core Values test, this will help you to figure out what is most important to you based on your choices and what you deem most important. It allows you to choose your main values and then put those choices up against each other, then you have to choose between the things you stated are most important to you.
My results were, in order of importance, family, loyalty, courage, health, and equality. The test itself was easy to do, the answers were sort of what I was expecting obviously because of what choices I chose, but it really makes you realise what you actually value in life.
This test also put into perspective how I care about others before myself as my health came second to last on my list of importance, and my family was top of the list. I will always value others’ needs before my own.
This was a good way of reminding me what I think is important in life, and is a great way to find your identity. It also reminded me to maybe start putting my health before the other things I stated were more important, as it’s important to take care of yourself before you take care of anyone else. Putting myself first is something that will benefit me in the future in achieving my goals.
Our values feed into our identity and our choices, as our environment and what we deem valuable shapes us as individuals. These choices affect our future, as we make choices with our core values in mind.
Build a life around what you value
Our values can help us decide what kind of career path we would like as creatives. For example, family is important to me so I would love to be able to write from home and still get to spend time with loved ones.
My ideal lifestyle seems to coincide with the Danish and Norwegian way of life, Hygge. It basically in a nutshell means to live a comfortable life, with a preference for coziness and conviviality, being surrounded by loved ones, living an understated life, only really doing things within your means. Living with the comfort of blankets, candles, books, freshly baked bread, fresh vegetables, and herbs from the garden, using only what you need, and saving the rest for later. Hygge life usually includes removing stressors as much as possible, living a slow-paced life, bringing the outdoors in with plants, simple decor, and wearing comfortable clothes.
Some people who practice this way of life have a designated “Hygge Nook” which is basically a designated part of your home especially for winding down, for example, a comfy seat in the house with low light, blankets and throws around it, a plant nearby and some candles, where you can sit after a long day of work, drink a hot drink and read a book.
I would like to recreate this “Hygge Nook” in my lifestyle but instead of using it for winding down, I would like to use it for sitting down to write, a small wooden desk in the corner of the room, a few candles lit, maybe a desk lamp, covered with plants and books and to-do lists all colour coordinated to match my favourite colour palette, browns, reds, oranges, yellows, and dark greens, all-natural colours.
Finding a comfortable place to write is something that a lot of writers do. This is true for many writers, like J.K. Rowling, whose favourite writing spot was a room she built in her garden, Stephen King wrote from his and his wife’s trailer at the time when they were both trying to earn a living. Edith Wharton’s favourite writing spot was covered up in bed, with her dog by her side, which is how I would love to spend my days.
Harnessing the power of your creative identity
Your identity is your brand. It’s important for you to create a unique identity if you’re looking to showcase your work.
Every famous creative individual has their own style, their own identity. Banksy has a different style to Monet and Rupi Kaur has a different style to J.K. Rowling. Even Zoella created an online brand and sold products just by showcasing her identity online that people could relate to, she was the face of her brand, she is the brand. Even her name sells.
This brings me to my next point, how to harness the power of your creative identity. Your creative identity has power, it is what makes you different from other creatives, everyone has a different
process in discovering their creative identity but you realise the true power you have once you figure out your creative identity, and then everything else falls into place.
The process of discovering my creative identity was something that was a big step for me and my future. I enjoyed discovering what genre, what styles, what work style fitted me best as a creative individual.
I knew from a young age that I loved writing when I made my own Christmas-themed short story, start to finish, bound and illustrated it, aged 4. So I knew from a young girl that I loved writing but it took me a long time to figure out what my creative identity was.
The process was at times hard, realising not all styles and genres will come naturally to me, having moments when it all got too hard to handle and I convinced myself I was out of my mind thinking I was a good writer. It was only when I found out what I did best and what my creative identity was that
I actually found myself achieving goals I set, such as publishing poetry online. I still haven’t got to where I want to be with my writing yet but I know I have a clear vision of what I want as I have a pretty good idea of what my creative identity is, obviously I’m still learning.
Doing the Myers Briggs test and the Core Values test actually helped a lot to keep me on track with my goals and visions and reassured me I am taking the right creative path for myself. My plan of action is that I will continue writing, improving my writing, broadening my knowledge, and taking more steps to get there. My next step is to learn how to publish my own work and write more poetry until I’ve got poems I would be proud of publishing.
Creating your own plan of action is good to set your goals ahead of time and take steps to achieve them.
In conclusion, the journey of finding my creative identity has really helped me get a better understanding of myself, finding out my personality type and my core values was also really helpful in figuring out what I want out of my creative career and how it helps feed into my identity. I have a much better understanding and a better picture of who I am, and what makes me, me, and what I love, especially in terms of my creative identity.
At the start of this process, I wouldn’t say I really had a distinct creative identity but I have been able to discover more of what it means to be me, and this has helped me put into perspective what I really want out of life.
After doing the tests, delving deeper into myself, I can safely say I have a creative identity. I have learned I am a poet who writes about her own experiences in order to help others going through the same thing realise that they’re not alone, and maybe inspire a few people to write, the same way I was inspired when I first stumbled upon my favourite poems.
I also realised that I am a big homebody and would like to one day be able to write from my favourite spot in the house with my loved humans and pets around me. I would definitely recommend other creatives who are starting out to do the same thing, as I now have more of an idea about my creative identity.
Check out our first online resource Value and Identity with Grace Kress for more ideas and exercises you can try yourself.