The creative field is one that’s driven by intrinsic passion. While there are certainly opportunities to make it big and get paid well, most would tell you it’s not the reason why they do what they do. Passion is.
Whitney Hanson is one of those people.
The university student is a poet and creative entrepreneur who got her start sharing poetry on TikTok during the COVID-19 pandemic. While most home dwellers bread-making careers didn’t get off the ground, what started as a few lines shared on her page has now evolved into an entire platform. Whitney’s social media accounts are home to a library of her work, and the artist has already written two books; ‘Home and Climate’ in 2021, and her latest project, ‘Harmony’, slated for release this November.
We sit down to discuss her personal journey and the lessons she’s learned by sharing it with the world in this podcast.
Diving Into the Deep End of Expression
Creative work is unique in that it’s always personal in one way or another. Photographers, designers, and artists pour their hearts into the pursuit of bringing ideas to life, with the final products reflecting their idea of beauty. There can be a lot of pressure to conform or hold back in order to gain the approval of people who understand art differently.
@whitneyhansonpoetryThis day marks the last day of suicide prevention week. When you are a person whose life has been deeply impacted by suicide this week can be hard to proccess and even harder to find the right words to say. So I’m sharing this poem as a reminder that people often have wounds that we don’t even see. So be kind and check on your people. 💚♬ original sound – Whitney Hanson
Mix in the urgency of wanting to make creative endeavors a full-time job and it’s virtually impossible to produce work that feels both authentic and successful.
And yet, there are those who have figured out how to do it. People like Whitney.If you get past fear and you share your work, you open yourself up to connecting with people who maybe feel the same way that you do, or experience life the same way that you do. Click To Tweet
She’s found a way to embrace fear and turn it into a guiding light for her poetic expression.
The golden rule is simple – if it’s scary to share with the world, it’s something the world hasn’t seen yet. Worries about rejection are simply proof that you’re being authentic to your own perspective.
“If you get past fear and you share your work, you open yourself up to connecting with people who maybe feel the same way that you do, or experience life the same way that you do.”
Create for Yourself
It goes without saying that sharing your work with the world is easier when it’s recreational. There aren’t any stakes, there’s no pressure, and nothing can be lost by simply expressing oneself for fun or in pursuit of personal goals. It can actually be a great way of dealing with other more difficult aspects of life. That’s how so many people fall in love with art and why it’s such a popular outlet.
Things change when money – or recognition, or status, or any other measure of success for that matter -is brought into the equation. There’s suddenly a reason to worry.
‘What if this investment of my time and effort doesn’t pay off?’
@whitneyhansonpoetryto the author of my story…♬ original sound – Whitney Hanson
Whitney has realized that she can’t and would never be able to produce ground-breaking work with extrinsic expectations. Her breakthrough poems were unintentional public successes that she decided to post on TikTok for fun; looking back, she tells me that knowing the outcome would have completely overwhelmed and derailed the creative thinking process.
The advice she had for anyone looking to take an artistic leap is to, first and foremost, focus on creating something that you find personally worthwhile. Not only does this decrease the fear of failure that comes with putting yourself out there publicly but it also allows you to fully explore and express your ideas without worrying about what others may think.
Authenticity and Relatability Go Hand-In-Hand
Despite authenticity being the ultimate goal, Whitney recognizes how easily external factors can influence one’s creations. She admits that with her initial virality came a temptation to ‘make art for algorithms’, or what she thought people would find relatable. But that’s what everyone is doing. It’s why social media feeds are flooded with look-alike posts and why so many creators get lost in the noise.
Standing out is a matter of being able to frame things in a way that is relatable to yourself. Whitney’s constant push for authenticity compels her to ask questions about why she’s written something a certain way. If it reflects her own feelings, then it’s worth sharing online.
Everyone Is Qualified to Create
At only 22 years old, Whitney Hanson is one of the youngest successes in her creative field. That can be daunting, especially when it comes to highly scrutinized disciplines like poetry. She tells me that when starting out, she felt her work wasn’t even worth sharing in the first place. There’s a world of lifelong poetry students and apprentices out there – aren’t they more qualified to speak at the podium?
View this post on Instagram
The cool thing about art is that you don’t need a formal education to excel at it. In fact, many of society’s best poets, designers, and illustrators were self-taught. Creativity is a natural human skill we can all make a mark with – if we want to.
To that end, mustering up the courage to share your ideas with others can actually have a cyclical effect. It’s hard to do at first, sure, but taking the leap is the first step to feeling validated. Once Whitney discovered audiences’ genuine appreciation for her poems on TikTok, she felt empowered to write more.
Even though she’ll look back today on older poems and question their quality, back then it was an important part of her creative journey. We all have to start somewhere, and for Whitney that meant making mistakes in order to learn and grow. It all ties back to the idea of being authentic. As long as what you’re doing can be defined as such, it will have meaning that both transcends and reflects time.
Whitney Hanson just graduated, but I’d argue that she already knows more about life than some college professors. Creators of all ages and backgrounds can take inspiration from her story about learning to express yourself with authenticity.
Whitney’s latest book, ‘Harmony’, will be available for purchase on November 7th.