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The one question you MUST ask to do your best creative work

Years ago, I was writing a political novel. And certain scenes were excruciating to write. I was so bored I had to force myself to write them. As I wrote, I felt incredibly sorry for my MFA classmates who would be reading it. “Wow,” I thought. “This is so boring and awful for me to write–these poor people who have to read it!”

And then suddenly I had a huge realization: I was writing a book I THOUGHT I should want to read (a thoughtful literary and political novel), not a book I would ACTUALLY want to read.

The thing is, it’s very easy to fall into this trap. All through our culture, there are signs telling us what’s “good.” Critics’ reviews. Best seller lists. Awards. Commentators on shows. Teachers and professors. People whose opinion we respect.

If a book or film, exhibition or performance is critically well-received or wildly popular, there’s a chance you will actually enjoy it. So it’s easy to just categorize it as “good” without thinking too much.

Sometimes that transfers over into our own creative work. We start making something, and we try to make it good, while unconsciously basing our standards on what other people have said.

The real question I should have asked was not “Is this good?” but “Am I writing the book I’ve been unconsciously searching for every time I go into a bookstore?”

The perfect book… the book that would pull me in with its story, fascinate me with its characters, transport me with its observations, move me with its scenes. The book I was longing for.

So that is the book I began to write. I followed my desires, and a magical realist plotline emerged, interweaving with my original political novel. And I was enthralled as I wrote, channeling inspiration and wonder, amazed with what I was creating and the experience of creating it.

This is the question: “Are you creating something you’ve been searching and longing for?”

If you’re not, then chances are, you’re creating something based on someone else’s expectations. That’s not a terrible thing: the world is full of perfectly enjoyable copycat work (think of all those money-making sequels and remakes).

But, powerful original work can only come from YOU. Your soul, your quirks, your experiences and wounds and desires. Your creative longing.

Write the book you’ve been dying to read. The film you’ve been aching to find. Make the art you wish you could see.

These are the unexpected bestsellers that change the landscape–the critical successes everyone else will copy for years.

So if you want to do your truest, best creative work–and love the experience of doing it–   follow your unmet desire: Do the creative work you’ve been longing to find.

 

P.S. I’ve put together a program designed to help you do your TRUE creative work and finally go for the CREATIVE SUCCESS you’ve been longing for. You’ll move past your blocks… uncover your truest, best creative work… and DO the creative work you’ve been longing to do. (And, you’ll also discover the unseen opportunities already in your world so you can take a dramatic leap in your creative career.)

This is a high-level program for ambitious creative people who are ready for big results. If that’s you, email me and let’s talk.

What happens if you DON’T do your true creative work?

(Plus, what happens when you DO)

I talk a lot about doing your true creative work–but why does it matter? Why is it important to do your TRUE creative work?

It matters because if your true creative work is stifled, it affects every area of your life.

When you stop up your deepest creative urges, you block the flow of life through you–and the negative effects leak out into the rest of your life.

Years ago, I struggled every day to write. Some days I managed it. Other days failure-fearing, desperately procrastinating part of me won out. I lived in a state of dissatisfaction–with my writing career, my life, and everything around me.

On days when I didn’t write, my frustration seeped into everything. I was annoyed about people on the subway. Things my boyfriend said. Taking time to do errands, wash clothes, clean my apartment.

I resented the time I spent at my money-making jobs. Even though I was great at what I did, I was always holding back because it wasn’t my “real” work… so I rose, but never to the top of my field.

Meanwhile, I stuffed my frustration down with busy work, escapist reading, and surfing the internet.

If you’re not doing your true creative work, there are big costs for you too.

You might tell yourself it’s enough to raise a loving family, to contribute to society through the job you do. You might say your creative “day job” or commercial work is enough.

But deep down, you know that’s not true. You know you want more.

Denying that truth squashes your soul. Slowly but surely, you are letting yourself die.

I don’t exaggerate, by the way.

Your soul is at stake, and so is your health.

Months, years, and decades of frustration, irritation, and self-denial… what does that do to your body? Depression. Anxiety. A lower immune response. High blood pressure. Heart disease. And more.

The biggest thing you can do for your health is to seek joy.

So how do you choose joy–and do the creative work that feeds your soul?

 

Step 1: Commit

Make the choice that you WILL do your TRUE creative work.

It’s not enough to want it or try for it: you must make an absolute commitment to doing your true creative work. When you “hope” and “try,” the underlying belief is “I wish for this, but I’m not fully committing because I don’t really believe I can do it.”

When you say “I will have this. I will find a way, no matter what,” you cut off all other alternatives in your mind. And that creates an ENTIRELY different energy and result.

When you STOP imagining how you might fail and ONLY look for ways to succeed (yes, this takes conscious choice again and again, in each moment!), you will see opportunities and choices you would have overlooked before. The way will open.

 

Step 2: Take steps to keep yourself from backing out

Even after committing, your body and mind will naturally pull you back towards your default way of doing things. You need to put structures in place to keep you moving forward.

There are three key ways to do this:

  • Money: Make a big investment in yourself or your creative work. When you invest a large amount in yourself, you’ll do the work to move through blocks and reach your goals because you don’t want to lose the money you invested.
  • Public declaration: Commit to your goal PUBLICLY. When you tell people what you commit to, you’ll be motivated to act because you don’t want others to see you quit or fail.
  • Big action: Take immediate, bold action that requires you to take the next step toward your goal.

To get life-changing results, do all three.

I’ve used all three of these, again and again, in my own life and with clients. They work.

 

Step 3: Put in place ongoing support for your true creative work

  • Hire a coach: Don’t waste months or years floundering around in DIY mode. Get support and guidance from someone who knows the way. (I’ve been working with coaches for more than twenty years; without that support, I would not be where I am today.)
  • Find community: If you came from a family or community that doesn’t believe strongly in the value of creative work, part of you might be afraid that if you pursue your creative work, you’ll end up alone. Find a community of people who support your new way of life. 
  • Set aside time: Create time in your schedule. What is the OPTIMAL schedule that lets you create at your best, most inspired time? How do you need to shift your schedule so it supports the life you want? What will you say no to so you can say yes to your creative work?
  • Invest in personal growth: Do the deep work to transform your fears and blocks. Without this, you’ll be pushing a boulder up a hill. But when you transform your fears and blocks, you will open to higher and higher level opportunities–and accelerate your progress toward your goal.

 

When you do your true creative work, EVERYTHING changes. Your energy shifts, and you magnetize people, opportunities, ideas, adventure, love, money… because people are just drawn to creative expansion and sheer joy. You experience an unprecedented level of success… because you’re drawing on your highest talents, in love with what you do, and doing your most brilliant work.

It’s the magic of creation–and once you make it the foundation of your life, you can never go back.

P.S. I’ve put together a program designed to help you do your TRUE creative work and finally go for the CREATIVE SUCCESS you’ve been longing for. You’ll move past your blocks… uncover your truest, best creative work… and DO the creative work you’ve been longing to do. And, you’ll also discover the unseen opportunities already in your world so you can take a dramatic leap in your creative career.

This is a high-level program for ambitious creative people who are ready for big results. If that’s you, email me and let’s talk.

My story: How I did what it took to break my writer’s block

When I was struggling to write, in the mid-2000s, I found a writing coach. I could tell he would be able to help me where so many other people and approaches had failed.

There was just one problem: he charged A LOT more than I had ever spent.

The amount scared me. I didn’t think I could do it.

My boyfriend at the time wasn’t hearing it. “You have to do this,” he said. “You are going to work with this guy–even if you have to take out a home equity loan to do it.”

His words had a big effect on me. As a child of first-generation immigrants who scrimped and saved, it was foreign and scary to me to take out a loan out to pay for creativity. (“Borrowing against your home! How irresponsible!” the immigrant voices inside me shrilled.)

But my boyfriend said, “You’ll make it back. You’ll pay it off. You HAVE to work with this guy because you HAVE to break your block and write.”

He was so serious and so certain–it really got me. I recognized: he was right. I DID have to do this. My soul required it.

(I don’t mean ‘I was broken and this coach could fix me, so I had no choice.’ What I mean is, there are some things so important to us, so core to who we are, that we MUST fulfill them. Writing was that for me. Whatever it took to get me writing again, I would do.)

So I took a deep breath and chose: I would work with this coach.

As it turned out, I didn’t have to take out a home equity loan. Once I made the choice, I found it much easier to pay for than I had expected.

(Side note: In the intervening years, I’ve found this phenomenon to hold true again and again, for me and for clients: once you CHOOSE and COMMIT, the way opens.

Corollary truth: The way does NOT come from thinking, “I’ll save up and try to make more, and if I have the money, I’ll do it.”

Decision and commitment open your eyes to new opportunity (and sources of money). Excessive caution and hanging back focus your eyes on lack of money–and that perpetuates more of the same.)

This is key: The WILLINGNESS to do what it took opened the way. The willingness to do the scary thing I would never have considered before. The willingness to listen past the fear… to my soul’s imperative. And the willingness to make that bold commitment with my emotions and my money.

Yes, I DID break my writer’s block then. And what that did for my self-esteem is beyond words.  

I was flying. Triumphant. Powerful.

Also, much more simply: I was capable. I believed in myself again.

And that is priceless.

 

P.S. As a side note, the results were priceless, AND there was money. 🙂 Within a few years, using the same power of commitment and choice, I also tripled my income–but that’s a topic for another post.

P.P.S. If you recognize the feeling of I MUST DO WHAT IT TAKES,” let’s talk. That is a message from your soul. Something in you is calling for you to break through your block–and to do it now.

I’m offering a new 1:1 program called TRUE CREATIVE SUCCESS. It’s designed specifically to help you break through what’s been holding you back for years, so you can do your TRUE creative work and take a DRAMATIC leap in your career and income. This is a program for talented, ambitious creative people who will do what it takes. Email me now to find out more.

If it’s hard to find time for your creative work, READ THIS

If you aren’t doing enough of your creative work, maybe you feel a sense of shame. Deep down, you believe you should be able to make the time for it.

But day after day, the time slips away. Sometimes you procrastinate out of anxiety or fear. Other times a family or work situation gets in the way.

And while you recognize that you’ve got a lot going on in your life, on some level you blame yourself. I should be able to make the time, you tell yourself. It isn’t rocket science. Just cut back on some things, commit to a time, and be firm about sticking with it.

Even worse, you might know people who just go ahead with their creative work–easily, simply, blithely doing it–while you’re tortured by your desire to do your creative work AND the fact that you’re not doing it. (Don’t beat yourself up over not being one of those people. They’re not superior to you–they just have a personality, worldview, family upbringing, or life situation that supports their creative work. You don’t have that. So don’t compare.)

Yes, it CAN be simple to find time for creative work and do it–IF you’re in the right  physical, mental, emotional, energetic, and spiritual state.

But here’s the truth: If it were easy FOR YOU to make time for your creative work, you’d be doing it.

The fact is, if you’re someone who ISN’T making time for your creative work, it’s because there’s actually a lot in your way.

To get to your creative work, YOU have to tunnel through layers of family beliefs and admonitions (“people like us don’t get to do what we love,” “get a real job,” “be responsible”), stare down worries about money and financial stability, get past fears about letting other people down, AND handle all the logistical challenges of your everyday life.

Still sound easy? 😉

There’s no victim mentality here–just a recognition that you have some real barriers in your way.

And with that comes another truth: When you really recognize what’s in your way and handle it, you CAN find time to do your creative work. And you CAN do it with that inspired golden flow and ease.

If making time is one of your challenges, come join me in this sacred circle (done via Facebook live): HOW TO FIND TIME FOR YOUR CREATIVE WORK.

We’re going to unpack the half-hidden beliefs, work with the anxiety, and start finding solutions.

Join me here!

Go on vacation–and get more done

As you read this, I am on vacation!! And basking in the sweet sunshine of just BEING.

Last year while on vacation, I learned a valuable lesson: sometimes, doing NOTHING will open up the fastest and easiest path to what you want.

Before my vacation, I was struggling to fit exercise into my day. With two kids and a busy schedule, it just wasn’t happening.

Then one day, on vacation, I just thought, “I’m up early. Why don’t I just pop down to the gym and get on the elliptical?”

So I did. I brought an inspirational book and read it while I exercised. And in the middle of doing that, I suddenly realized how I could change my schedule to exercise in at home.

I got off the elliptical, glowing. I felt so alive–and I felt incredible excitement. I exercised every day for the rest of the trip.

And when I got home, I made that schedule change–and it was done! I’ve exercised at least 6 days a week now, for the past year.

What’s even more exciting: as I kept exercising, other things got easier too. Writing, taking action in my business–action became part of an easy, flowing, joyful movement through my day.

So I want to let you know: If you’re pushing hard and not getting things done, if you feel stuck because you don’t know how to fit something into your day, take a break. Stop pushing. Give yourself a long stretch to do nothing, and just be. And allow the answer to come.

P.S. If one of the things that you’re stuck on is your creative work, I’ve put together a program designed to help you do your TRUE creative work and finally go for the true CREATIVE SUCCESS you’ve been longing for. You’ll move past your blocks… uncover your truest, best creative work… and DO the creative work you’ve been longing to do. And, you’ll also discover the unseen opportunities already in your world so you can take a dramatic leap in your creative career.

This is a high-level program for ambitious creative people who are ready for big results. If that’s you, click here and let’s talk.