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The Courage to Do Your Creative Work

I’ve been hearing what’s out there in the news, and I’m moved to share this message.

Just over a year ago, I wrote this: 

“Yesterday, millions of us saw Dr. Blasey Ford testify. As I watch my Facebook feed, I see person after person speaking up.

And it reminds me: Courage and action DO change the world.

Even though she was originally afraid to come forward, even though she had to deal with death threats and move her family for safety, Dr. Blasey Ford spoke her truth.

Through her courage, she laid bare the ugliness and pervasiveness of a culture that looks at men pressuring women for sex and says, “Boys will be boys” or “All men do that.” She inspired millions of women and men to say, “No, that is not okay” and “This is not the world we want for our daughters and sons.”

Maybe Brett Kavanaugh will still get confirmed. Maybe not.

Whatever happens, this is a moment that will change history. This is a moment where we CAN and MUST change history.

In 1992, after the Anita Hill hearings, there was an electoral wave that tripled the number of female senators (going from two to seven), increased the number of women in the House by 60% (from 30 to 48), and inspired hundreds of women to run for offices, from state legislatures to school boards. TIME called it “The Year of the Woman.”

We can bring another wave this year.

In every area, our truth and courage make a difference. A couple years ago, I worked with a client who was courageously bringing a new view of cancer into the world. Another previous client is telling the stories of death row inmates who are likely innocent. Other clients are helping people connect with the life stories behind the objects in their home, educating people about safe and healthy cosmetics, or using comedy to advance gender equality.

What have you been afraid to say or do? What creative work have you been holding back?

These times can be difficult. But we have each other, and we have ourselves. The world is asking for our voices in this moment.”

Looking back, I feel the urgency of my words. This is a critical time for the world and for humanity. 

Sometimes we can fall into despair if we put ourselves out there and don’t don’t get the outcome we want. 

But in the larger perspective, we make a difference. 

All our voices have fundamentally changed the way the media and culture at large talk about women and men and sexuality and relationships. 

We made a difference in the elections of 2018. 

Our voices make a difference.

And our voices matter more than ever now.

If you are someone who cares about making the world a better, safer, more loving and just place, if your heart cries out for all that needs to happen, we need you.

It’s not just your everyday voice the world needs–it needs the deepest truths contained in your creative work. 

Whatever you have experienced, whoever you are, your soul and your creative spirit bring that out in your art–into a one-of-a-kind perspective the world will never see again.

So, even if you’re afraid, even if you worry about failure or people’s opinions or not being good enough, choose to do your creative work. 

Time is passing. Don’t let your creative work die inside you, die with you, die without entering the world.

Choose courage over fear. Choose your truth and your art and your voice.


P.S. If it’s hard for you to bring your art out into the world, you don’t have to do it alone. I’ve created a way to help talented, ambitious writers and artists do their creative work regularly and easily.

If you’re talented, hard-working, and determined—but avoidance, procrastination and self-criticism keep getting in the way, I’ll guide you to move past all that… 

So you can finish your novel, get your play produced, or exhibit your photos…

So your voice can make a difference in this world.

Interested? Email me!

Oh, the Pain of Not Doing Your Creative Work!

Why it’s hard for you–and what you can do

If you aren’t doing enough of your creative work, maybe you feel a sense of shame. Deep down, you want so much to do your creative work. You care so much about 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 you’ve got a lot going on in your life, on some level you blame yourself. 

I should be able to do my creative work, you tell yourself. It isn’t rocket science. I take responsibility for my life. I should just commit and do it. Right?

Those people who write or paint or compose every day!!

Even worse, you know people who just go ahead with their creative work?—?easily, simply, lalala?—?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.)

The truth about your creative block

Yes, it CAN be simple to do your creative work?—?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 do your creative work, you’d be doing it.

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

If it were easy FOR YOU to do your creative work, you’d be doing it. The fact is, if you’re someone who ISN’T doing enough 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?

Photo by eggeeggjiew. Licensed through Adobe Stock.

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

So what now?

First, have hope. When you really recognize what’s in your way and handle it, you CAN do your creative work. 

By becoming AWARE when the blocks come up?—?instead of reacting unconsciously?—?you’re taking the crucial first step towards moving past the blocks.

(Remember: Have compassion for yourself. If you’re in a cycle of self-blame and avoidance, compassion is key to ending the cycle!)

Then, take the necessary action. 

If you need support to handle your blocks, get it. 

You don’t have to do this alone. (In fact, you shouldn’t… because do you want to spend your time muddling around in your self-blaming, self-shaming thoughts?—?or DOING YOUR CREATIVE WORK? :-))

Most of all, hold the vision: You can and will do your creative work. When you acknowledge and handle what’s blocking you?—?and commit to your creative work?—?the way will open. 


P.S. I’ve put together a program–ARTIST IN ACTION–for ambitious writers and artists who are tired of having their careers dragged down by procrastination, self-criticism, and avoidance.

You’re talented, hard-working, and determined—but it just isn’t reflected in your output. You want to stop the procrastinating and beating yourself up. You want to DO your creative work—regularly and easily… so you can have a successful creative career.

Interested? Email me.

Announcing the Artist in Action Program

You want to write a novel that shakes open the way people look at life—AND wins all the big prizes and sells like crazy. Or make a movie that breaks out at Sundance and becomes a multi-million dollar box office hit.

But, when you sit down to work, the WEIGHT of those desires is pressing on you. You get sucked into social media or email, clean your studio, spend two unnecessary hours on “research” to avoid the anxiety of dealing with that difficult scene, or read a whole book that you started for “inspiration.”

Or you stop working on projects partway through, giving up on them because they never feel good enough.

You are so committed to your creative work. But, actually doing it takes heroic effort: Every day, you battle uphill against fear and resistance and procrastination and self-critical voices. 

Unfortunately, this is reflected in your career. People you went to school with now have careers in the arts—while you have the same unrealized promise and potential.

I totally get it. This was me too. And many of my clients.

So, I’ve created Artist in Action–a program for talented, ambitious writers and artists who are tired of having their careers dragged down by procrastination, self-criticism, and avoidance.

When you step into the Artist in Action program, you will

… let go of the agony, internal drama, and need for heroic effort

… end the cycle of procrastination, self-criticism, guilt, and shame

… do your creative work regularly and easily—and even have fun doing it!

You will become an artist who consistently does your creative work—even if you have a family, a day job, or have been blocked for YEARS.

Want to hear more? Email me!

Do This Weekly Check-In!

One of the keys to success as an artist is knowing what you’re doing well–and what you can improve.

I want to invite you to join me for a weekly check-in exercise over in our free Artist in Action Facebook group!

I recommend you do this at the end of every work week.

I often realize I’ve done much better than I thought… or, if it’s been a tough week, I have an important insight about what I could do better next week.

Join us for this and more (lots more, every week)!

(A taste of it for you below…)

Check In

  • Were you an artist in action this week?
  • Where did you do well? (Celebrate!)
  • How did you fall short? (No judgement, be neutral)
  • What do you need to change?
  • What do you need support with?

Of course, if you could use support, reach out! (Email me here.)

Break the cycle of creative block

So, today I did a live training on the cycle that causes creative block (and how to break it, of course!)

In it, I shared an exercise to help you get really clear on your own cycle of creative block.

This is the kind of thing I’m doing in my brand new Artist in Action Facebook group. If you want in, join us here!

I’ll continue to share my articles about doing your creative work here, but there’ll be interaction and special trainings over in the Facebook group.

Training: Break the cycle of creative block

(Watch the video where I take you through the training!)

*

Oh, procrastination and avoidance and resistance!! The scourge of writers and artists everywhere.

You’ve been in the dread cycle, right? Avoidance… leads to guilt… and shame… and then more avoidance. Around and around, killing your novel, your song cycle, your creative project. Not to mention your creative career!!

Do you want out? You CAN get out, you know. 

Let’s get started. 

First, let’s take a look at exactly what a cycle of creative block looks like. This is the first step to getting OUT of the cycle.

As an example, here’s one of mine: 

(Note: I was working on a story set in 19th century China)

  1. My inner voice: This scene has to be a lot more complex. I’m not getting at these people’s inner lives. And would they be thinking this way in China in 1842? 
  2. How I feel: Anxious. Pressured. Slightly overwhelmed.
  3. My reaction: Pick up a history book to research the time/place in question. Feel overwhelmed again, and anxious that my writing will stop while I do more research.
  4. My inner voice: Oh, god. This is going to take so long. I’m going to have to read this book, and that one, and it’s going to take a week of my writing time, and I probably won’t even find what I’m looking for.
  5. My feelings: More anxious. More pressured. Slightly despairing.
  6. My reaction: Put down the book. Click away to read the news to relieve my tension. Avoid my writing my reading the news for the next hour.
  7. My inner voice: Look at you. Time is precious. You’ve got a family. I can’t believe you wasted that hour. You have to get back to it. You’re going to lose the day. You’re never going to get anything done. No wonder you’re a failure.
  8. My feelings: Guilt. Shame. Defiance. 
  9. My reaction: Avoid the feelings and relieve the tension by reading another article.
  10. My inner voice: What is the matter with you?????!!!

Etc. (You get the idea!)

Now let’s look at what YOUR shame cycle looks like. This is the first step to getting OUT of that cycle.

Take a moment to do this. If you experience any kind of procrastination or block, it’s going to really help you start getting out of that… so you can have the creative career you want.

Exercise: Uncover your “creative block” cycle

Think of a moment that you stop writing/ making music/ making art/ choreographing/ doing your creative work. Imagine that time slows way down until it stops in that moment.

Pay attention to what you’re feeling and thinking in this moment. Especially notice any negative voices or feelings.

  1. What do you say to yourself at this moment?
  2. How do you feel at this moment?
  3. How do you react (what do you DO when you have this thought or feeling)?

Then we follow the cycle.

4. What do you say to yourself after you have that reaction?

5. How do you feel when you hear those words?

6. What do you do in reaction?

7. What does your internal voice say after you have that reaction?

8. How do you feel?

9. What do you do in reaction?

Etc.

This is your cycle of creative block.

Pretty awful, right? With that going on, no wonder it’s hard to do your art!

But, here’s the thing: That cycle is NOT THE TRUTH. It’s just your conditioning. 

It’s the soundtrack that got installed somewhere deep in your past.

It updates to fit each situation, but it’s the soundtrack you’ve been playing over and over your whole life.

Now, you can break that cycle and shut that soundtrack down.

You can do it at any point in the cycle: 

  • By changing your inner voice–so it stops with the soul-withering criticism and starts offering encouragement and support instead.
  • By feeling your feelings, and offering yourself compassion (crucial for getting out of the shame spiral!). 
  • By pausing before you react… and choosing to take an action that breaks the shame cycle–and advances your career instead.

When I work with clients, they learn how to break the cycle at EACH of these points. 

It isn’t always easy (those cycles can be persistent!), but over time, they really GET IT. They shift their reactions, their feelings, and their actions. They internalize a new way of being.

And, they create a NEW cycle: one of momentum, confidence, and creativity.

With that new cycle comes amazing results:

They DO their creative work, regularly and easily. 

They have the courage to take the big steps. 

They break through the emotional obstacles that are hurting their technique. (Yes, that’s a real thing–more on that in another post!)

And ultimately, they get big results in their creative careers.

What does this mean? 

Exhibitions. Published articles. Recognition at major film festivals. Agents. Awards. Money. And so much more….

Want some of that for yourself? Email me and let me know!