Today’s post is by author, illustrator, and photographer Stacey Maney. Stacey can be found in her studio, somewhere outside, or working alongside her husband, Mike. Stacey is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). To see more of Stacey’s work, you can visit her website

Honesty and Creativity

It’s hard to talk about creativity without sounding like a Hallmark card.

We’ve all heard the same things…

  • be bold
  • trust yourself
  • don’t put the work on a pedestal
  • play to your strengths

But how do you move forward with that cliche advice, however helpful it might be?

For me, it wasn’t a single moment that hit me where I figured it all out- my style, direction, and purpose. Full disclosure here, I’m still working on all of that.

What to do with rules

My journey forward was rooted in a lot of research and reflection.
The creating part was the hardest for me.

After 6 years of design school I graduated knowing too much.
I had too many criticisms and rules inside my head.
And I felt lost in a sea of far more talented people.

Do I have any regrets about going to school for art? No.
Did it leave me with a lot of baggage to work through? Absolutely.

Somewhere along the line, I accepted the truths that I was taught. My visual language was spot on, I could communicate whatever was needed, but I stopped trusting my voice in the process.

I froze.


It wasn’t until I realized there was only one of me in the world that I started to see my own value again. I started to observe my view of the world, my personality, and interests.
I let myself become obsessed with the things I love and let those obsessions dictate the work I made. I let go of all the rules and followed my intuition.

I worked through countless hours of less than desirable work.
Holding onto the moments that made my heart swell and letting go of the rest.
Starting over and over, until I could see patterns forming.

Learning Thyself

The more I began to learn about myself and create the more my work fell into place.

I love brighter than life colors.
I love to laugh and make other people laugh.
I love nature.

I realized all of my seemingly disconnected experiences were preparing me to make art and stories for kids.

Now, I understand that I have to create my work and turn my dreams into a reality because I am the ONLY one who can.

The same goes for you – you are the only one that can bring your work to life.

The ideas that fill your head, the motivation that pushes you, and the story you carry with you are all there for a reason.

If you can create it, you must!


Create your masterpiece. Maybe it’s a song, image, or story. Whatever it is, get it out of your head and into the world.

The truth about creativity is you have to find your own. It’s not something you are handed, but something you earn over time. Something to discover after hours of deep digging.

Accept that your truth will change over time as your life unfolds. There is no final destination, but many moments of discovery.

The creative life can be fulfilling and full of depth if you stay open to learn.

Leave the doubt outside of your studio and be patient.

And no matter what…be honest with yourself!
Your work  will thank you.

– Stacey


Below is a list of my favorite books that have helped me on the journey.

  • Stephen King: On Writing
  • Big Magic
  • The War of Art
  • The Universe is a Green Dragon