Living the life of a hard-working artist has its rewards, but it can also be a gnarly slog. We can work so hard for so long, without recognition or success, that we can feel utterly lost and unsure of how to find our way back, let alone take a huge leap forward. It's important to keep our perspective, and remember why we chose to live this life (self-expression, meaning, passion, contributing to our community, etc). But it's also crucial that we know how to get ourselves back on track and primed to meet our goals, whatever they may be. As we get closer to achieving them, we might even decide that they are way too small! A creativity coach can help you re-assess your goals and form an entirely new paradigm for yourself and your art. We begin with the interstitial aspects of your life, actions that support the larger work you do as an artist. Attending to these things can unlock new sources of energy, inspiration, and an authentic vision of yourself, which can change everything. Here are 6 ways to take a great leap forward:
Put self-care at the top of your list
- I've said it before and I'll say it again: artists need to prioritize self-care. We are sensitive people who draw on our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual resources in everything we do. Many of us are living in circumstances that are less than ideal, or even downright squalid. Even if we're living in comfort, our health and wellness can be severely compromised if we don't form and maintain regular good habits that nourish and sustain us. Eat nutritiously, exercise regularly, and attend to recurrent health issues if you have them. Call your insurance provider and find out exactly what is covered under your plan, then take full advantage of it: schedule a check-up, and arrive prepared with questions about your current health issues for your doctor to answer (and ask your family about your genetic inheritance and find out if you're at risk for diseases). Planned Parenthood is there to provide you with quality birth control, education, and resources for your sexual health. Know your physical limits and learn how to thrive within them. Vibrant health and wellness is magical. Take the energy and strength that returns to you, and pour it into your art.
- Do not neglect the ferocious power of your mind! If you're not meditating regularly you're letting a huge resource rot. Got time to check social media, read news headlines, and make coffee? You have time to meditate. Meditation is your brain's way of de-fragmenting, clearing, and re-booting. It puts us in a deep state of calm that can help us better deal with our trials and tribulations. If that's not enough, it also gives us access to the deepest regions of our creativity, and all our dreams, schemes, and visions. Start meditating and you just might free up that genius idea you've been longing for. I designed a 12 minute Guided Breathing Meditation to help you do just that, so sign up in the box at right and try it out for free.
Schedule a weekly Power Hour to organize ideas and inspiration
This is your time to stir the pot and get things cooking. Use Evernote to gather all the interesting articles, images, and links that you find during the week into one place. This is also where you transcribe and organize any important notes from your notebook (or enter directly into the app via your phone). Organize them by project, date, subject, or any way that makes sense to you. Set a timer for 60 minutes on Sunday nights and read through each one. What are the most valuable takeaways? What can you use on your journey forward? What do you see when you step back and look at the bigger picture? Identify any recurring themes and list them in your notes. Finish each session by making a list of questions, comments, and ideas that come to you from reviewing your collection. Taking dedicated time to perform these tasks will enrich your understanding of your creative vision, and help you go deeper into it, where the real gold is waiting to be found.
Read biographies of famous artists
- We lost two titans of popular music this year, David Bowie and Prince. How did they get to the top of the stratosphere? What was their family of origin, and how did it affect the choices they made in their lives? Who helped them along the way, and who tried to keep them down? How were they discovered? What personal and professional setbacks did they face? What is controversial about them and why? Choose people in your artistic discipline, and then pick a few more who make a different kind of art. What do they have in common? Any familiar themes or recurring issues? The lives of artists are endlessly compelling and inspiring. Read about them and walk in their footsteps. You could stumble on a brand-new way of making your art and/or connecting with the public.
Brainstorm your finances with a trusted friend
- Let's face it: artists are not typically gifted in this area. We need help to recognize our limitations and see the bigger picture. Many of us work crummy, menial jobs that leave us time to make art but don't allow us to do much more than pay our bills. We might think we don't have to "worry" about money, because there is so little of it to manage. But allowing a trusted friend and/or professional (ie someone who knows much more about finances than we do) to take a look at our situation, and suggest ways that we could improve it, can give us new insight into how we might turn our art into a thriving business. Also, let's make sure that we have some kind of retirement plan in place! Without the 401K that comes with a "straight job" it's not as easy to visualize what retirement should be. Don't depend on inheritance(s) or support from a spouse to see you through. While it's true that "artists never retire", it's also true that aging takes a toll on our bodies and can make it much harder to produce our art as the years go by. Schedule monthly automatic deductions from your checking account into a retirement account. Start the process and let it inform all the financial choices that you make.
Love someone deeply
- I know what you're thinking: what the heck does this have to do with making my art? The answer is simple: everything. An artist's inner life is dramatically compelling, often much more so than the outside world. We can get so entangled with our inner lives that we completely forget to be present with our loved ones. Self absorption is not sustainable! Loving and caring for others helps re-orient our perspective, and reminds us that we are more than just the art we make. Perform regular acts of thoughtfulness and care with those closest to you, and be present in this place of selflessness. Ask about them, and talk about things other than your art. Be a good listener, and provide advice (if you have it) when asked. Our larger community is also worthy of our attention. Consider ways that you can contribute through advocacy and volunteering. Don't overthink it, just do it often and well. Your heart will fill up, you'll feel supported, and you'll have plenty of renewed energy to bring to your work when your next creative lightning strike shows up.