Creativity's Workshop

Taming and Training Your Creativity to Write Abundantly

8 Things I Learned From Kina Grannis

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I recently came across a very interesting post and I have to share it with you. It’s written by Kina Grannis.

For those of you who haven’t heard of her, she’s a singer songwriter. You can visit her website for more information. Her upbeat songs went a long way toward keeping me sane when I was housebound during Beijing’s winter at the beginning of this year.

The post I want to share with you is called Behind the Video: Message From Your Heart in which she describes her journey from making her first YouTube video to having the video played on TV during the Super Bowl.

Once you’ve read the post, come back and read the 8 things I learned from her story.

Bulk Up on Experience

Although this was the first YouTube video Kina ever made, it wasn’t the first time she’d ever sung to an audience. She’d been doing ‘every gig she could’ for some time leading up to this point, which developed her repertoire, confidence and experience.

When she decided to make a video every day to encourage people to vote for her video, she already had the power in her voice and the singing experience to produce videos day in and day out.

What do we learn? If you want to make it ‘big’ one day, expose your art to the locals. Take every local opportunity you can to get feedback from an audience. The confidence and experience are invaluable.

Put Your Work Out Into the World

At some point you have to bite the bullet and upload something – be it a video or a post or an e-book – even if you don’t feel ready. In fact, especially if you don’t feel ready. You could spend the rest of your life tweaking things until they are perfect and miss out on all the opportunities in the meantime.

Look at what you’re working on. Could you put something up for others to see? What medium would work best for you? Written posts, audio podcasts, YouTube videos? Think about it.

Be Creative in Getting Your Message Across

One of the things which really stands out about Kina’s first video is her creative flair. She’s not just another girl playing her guitar in front of a camera. She cuts to other shots of herself, includes a t-shirt and even made a cardboard heart.

When you’re putting your work out there, don’t go with what everyone else is doing. Stop and think how you can find ways to let your Creativity shine through.

Let Go! A.K.A. Sleep

After she put the video up, she didn’t sit there and wait for the response. She went to bed and slept.

Lesson? Once your work is out there, you have to let go and do something else with your life. Sleeping is a really good option.

The Response May Not Come Immediately

Without realising it, Kina had uploaded what was to be a contest-winning video. But she didn’t get responses right away, even though it was her family and friends who were viewing it.

If you’re not getting the response you expect, hang in there. Keep positive and keep producing. It may just need time.

Don’t Do It For the Fame

When the video did actually air on TV to an audience of 97 million and Kina was signed to a record company, she says she was ‘too sleep-deprived and adrenaline-filled to register any of this.’

If you’re doing all of this for the high of getting on TV or getting a contract, you may be too exhausted by that time to actually appreciate what you’ve accomplished. Do it because that’s what you want to do with your life and you enjoy creating.

Be True to Yourself and Your Art

I have great respect for someone who can achieve something just about every person in their field wants (in this case being signed to a record label) and walk away because it’s not going in the direction they felt comfortable with.

Creativity works best in a safe, accommodating environment where you don’t have to conform too much to other people’s expectations. If your creative freedom is being stifled, sometimes you have to stand up and walk away.

Be Supportive

If Kina’s family or friends had been harsh with their reaction to her video, chances are she would have taken it down and never even contemplated entering it in the competition. Thankfully, they were supportive and made her feel confident enough to take the next step.

They were also there for her at her first gig, which she describes as “really awkward” but her friends turned it into a great success because of their kindness.

So if you’re around someone who is starting out in a creative endeavour, learn from this example. Be supportive. Be positive. Don’t point out the flaws and the awkward parts. Find the points you love and emphasise them. Be a cheerleader for your fellow creatives!

Okay, that’s what I learned. What about you? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.


Author: Jessica

I'm a writer who refuses to pin myself down to one genre, hopping from science-fiction and fantasy through to literary and even the odd western now and then. Check out what I've written at or follow me on Twitter @jessbaverstock.

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