1. Make your creativity a priority. If it’s not a “must-do” it will continually be a “want to”.
2. Learn the difference between process and product, and devote yourself to the process.
3. All of your products will naturally flow from your process.
4. Keep your creative practice and process private.
5. Let go of needing to explain what you’re doing to anyone.
6. Let go of the need to explain what you’re doing to yourself. Where else in your life do you have the luxury and absolute freedom to not know what the heck you’re doing? Without any negative consequences? It’s just a piece of paper.
7. The creative process is mysterious, magical, constantly changing and completely individual. Be confounded, astounded, curious, baffled, delighted, enamored in your studio.
8. Creativity thrives in uncertainty. Surrender to uncertainty, instead of trying to fight it.
9. You’re afraid of the blank page because you haven’t yet learned how to trust yourself or the creative process.
10. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been wanting to create or trying to create. You can start fresh today. You can start fresh again tomorrow.
11. That yearning to create that just doesn’t go away is our ally and helper. This is your creative guide. Ask for directions.
12. Focus in the here and now. This is where and when creative work happens. Not in the past. Not in the future. Right here, right now is where everything happens.
13. Free yourself of any past baggage around your creative life, especially any lurking would-of, should-of, could-of scenarios.
14. Develop a sturdy, healthy creative practice than can withstand “life getting in the way”. The nature of life is that stuff happens and things will continually get in the way. Part of your job as a creative is to learn how to manage these inevitabilities.
15. When life really does get in the way, (it will) design a way to stay connected with your creativity in portable ways, done in little snippets of time.
16. You don’t have to abandon yourself to be there for someone else.
17. Stop caring what others think. If you’re keeping your creative practice and process private, (#4) this is 1000% easier.
18. Start caring what you think. Think thoughts that inspire you instead of thoughts that bring you down. You’re always going to be thinking, so why not choose thoughts that feel good, instead of bad?
19. Worrying about what other people will think is futile. They’re going to think what they think whether you make your art or not. So you might as well make your art.
20. Especially don’t worry about what people think about your creative work. Some people will like it, some will dislike it, many will be indifferent. It really doesn’t matter.
21. If you’re still worrying about what others think of your work, try this thought experiment: Pause and think about all of the art in the world, everywhere. You like some, don’t like some, and don’t really care about most of it. Who cares what you think? Are your thoughts about all that art having any kind of impact on anyone or anything?
22. Don’t ask for or take advice from people who haven’t done what you are trying to do.
23. Find creative role models who are doing what you want to do and learn from them.
24. Instead of feeling unworthy, assume that you are good enough to create. You are enough. You have something worthy of saying, sharing, expressing, creating. Everyone does.
25. Be aware (beware!) of the human tendency to avoid uncertainty and the discomfort of not knowing. This can show up as mood-altering behaviors and/or substances. No judgement, just something to be aware of if you’re zoning out more than you want to be.
26. Mood-altering behaviors don’t just create highs. Some create lows. Picking a fight with someone, nit-picking, arguing for your limitations, impatience. These usually follow a win or success – as we unconsciously try to bring our new high energy back down where we’re used to it being.
27. Don’t worry about how you’ll profit from your creative work, especially before you’ve made any creative work. See #2.
28. Doing your work and trying to figure how to sell your work at the same time is a creativity killer. If you’re in a funk, see if you’ve just been trying to do these diametrically opposed activities at once. Return to your creative practice until you feel better.
29. Your primary job is to make. Create.
30. It can be someone else’s job to sell your work. Agents and reps make selling your art their business, and that can be a beautiful thing.
31. If you’re selling your own work, pretend it’s totally different job (it is) and don’t try to make and sell at the same time.
32. You can learn to market and sell your own work, just do it outside of the studio, and treat it like the separate business that it is.
33. Definitely separate your sales from your self-worth. Low or high, associating sales with one’s value means that your well-being is at the mercy of the marketplace.
34. When you’re confused or feel a lack of focus, treat it as a signal to get back into your creative practice. Step away from production for awhile, and spend more time in process.
35. Claim your time and space to work and guard it with your life. If you don’t set boundaries, the whole world will come clamoring and steal your time and attention.
36. Creative Time = Soul Time.
37. Allowing your creative time and attention to be stolen will wear you down, because when creative time is intruded upon or disrespected, it’s a kind of soul theft.
38. Studio intruders usually don’t mean any harm, but if they are not respecting your boundaries….then you have some important information about how you’re training people to treat you.
39. Just because someone doesn’t mean you harm, doesn’t mean they wish you well. Be discerning about who you allow into your creative circle.
40. People will respect your boundaries when you respect your boundaries. And those who don’t will leave in a huff, or try to make your wrong. Let them go.
41. You only need a few people who get you and get your work.
42. Being able to tolerate not knowing what you are doing will take you far.
43. Being willing to not know where your create work is going will take you places you really want to go.
44. You’ll only know any of this from experience, not reading about it.
45. When you’re really struggling: Treat yourself the way you would treat a child in a kindergarten art class. What colors excite you right now? What do you want to play with? Scribble! Finger paint! Cut and paste paper. Color outside the lines, for sure. Write on the walls. Don’t forget recess, snacks and nap time.
46. Be kind to yourself. You’ve got this. That little five-year-old artistic genius inside you is alive and well, and also a creative guide. Ask her what she wants to make.
47. Choose your own adventure:
Be Bold & Proceed.
My question for you: Which of these resonate with you most right now?
Share in the comments, below.
Last week I asked readers one question about their creative habit that I thought a few of you would respond to.
Little did I know you would have so much to say on the subject.
Not only are there hundreds of responses, but everyone gave such considered, thoughtful answers.
I’ve spent hours reading and absorbing all you’ve shared.
Many of your answers got me teary-eyed.
So many of you are struggling to find the time, the space, and the confidence to make creativity a more important part of your lives. There is this huge yearning, and lots of questions. When? How? What? To create? And How, exactly?
These 47 ideas were the immediate, top-of-mind thoughts I had to all of your questions and stories.
My working title for this list was:
Everything That I Wished I Knew About Creating When I Was Starting Out (& That I Must Constantly Remember)
All of this comes from my own experience as an artist and writer, and from being a therapist and creativity guide to others for so long.
Lots of this I learned the hard way.
All of it I wish a fairy godmother had whispered in my ear the first time I picked up a crayon.
Take what’s useful, throw out whatever isn’t, and apply #22 judiciously.
My hope is you’ll find something of use in here, and it will tide you over until the new thing I’m working on for you is ready.
You’re always invited to ask questions in the comments.
I do hope you’ll share which of these are most resonant for you right now. Perhaps you have some of your own to add?