IN PRACTICE: SIDE PROJECT SESSIONS
There are few Australian creatives as well versed in the art of the side project as Madeleine Dore (aka founder of Extraordinary Routines). As an editor, writer, content strategist, interviewer, speaker and accountability coach she understands well the struggle and overwhelm that can come from juggling multiple creative pursuits. She also understands how to balance these projects to fuel creative fulfilment. In 2018 Madeleine launched Side Project Sessions – a regular event series designed to help you overcome various blocks to getting started on your project, big or small. We caught up with Madeleine to discuss her latest venture, as well as her tips for anyone looking to embrace their side project.
What is Side Project Sessions and how does it help people create or sustain their side projects?
Through starting my own side project Extraordinary Routines five years ago, I’ve seen first hand how personal work can help you make traction in a profession or turn into an unexpected business or career path, or simply just create a sense of enjoyment in your daily life.
I also know all too well the pressures and challenges that came along with finding the time, motivation and confidence to get something started or keep up momentum. Through my interviews, I’ve also noticed that these blocks and distractions don’t necessarily become any easier to navigate – even some of the most experienced artists, designers and business owners have fear, doubt and procrastination tendencies!
Side Project Sessions was born out of this observed – and also very personal! – frustration of seeing personal creative work continue to fall to the bottom of the to do list. I wanted to create a space where people could feel accountable and focused, build a regular routine, and be surrounded by a community of creative and inspired people. I like to think of it as peer-pressured productivity for your labour of love!
The regular event series is not about the hustle, making money or even networking necessarily, but rather making time for whatever you’ve been putting off – people have worked anything from novels and illustration projects, to writing resignation letters or pruning a neglected houseplant!
It’s amazing to see people dedicate every second Sunday to their ideas and projects, build some regularity and get momentum for something they might have been putting off for years.
If you could give people three tips on how to get started on building up their side project (while also working another job), what would they be?
1. Redefine what success means to you: side projects are an opportunity to redefine traditional measures of success, such as fame or fortune, and explore what contributes to your own sense of satisfaction in daily life. It could be learning a new skill, adding to your portfolio, meeting a new person, or overcoming a fear of failure – success is unique to each individual and each project, and more to do with how you feel in yourself than how you think you look to others.
2. Start Small: self-doubt, procrastination and perfectionism can be some of the biggest hurdles in starting or sustaining a project. Starting small helps to manage expectations and keep side projects accessible and achievable. Done is better than perfect!
3. Carve out time in your schedule: a common misstep is to think you need an entire day, week or month to get something off the ground, when really you need to use the moment that you have available. Through the events, I’ve learnt that one morning a fortnight actually doing the work is worth far more than a year spent just thinking about it. Pick a time and show up – momentum will often help do the rest.
What’s the biggest block in your opinion, for people not pursuing a side project?
Behind self-doubt, procrastination, comparison, feeling behind, or overwhelmed is often fear – fear of failing, or being bad at something, or not quite measuring up to our own expectations.
Often the only antidote to being afraid of the work is doing the work and reminding yourself again and again that you make your own rules for your own side projects.
What’s next for you/Side Project Sessions?
The event series is expanding in unpredictable ways – new chapters are starting up across the globe from Adelaide to Akron, Ohio and I’m hoping to expand to more cities throughout 2019.
There has also been interest in more one-on-one accountability, so for the first time, I’m offering private routine and side project accountability sessions for people who need that extra nudge or clarity to get something they’ve always dreamed of finally started.
Both Side Project Sessions and Extraordinary Routines remain my side projects, so I’m continuing with freelance writing, interviewing, speaking and experimenting with my own routine!
Sign up to the next Side Project Session online or connect with Madeleine on Instagram.