How long have self-doubt and misperceptions about your industry held you back in your art, writing, or performance career? What are your internal and external obstacles to advancing in your work?
For ten years of painting, I was oblivious to my own role in my lack of success. I wasn’t painting regularly, my marketing was sporadic, and my moods were all over the map (but mostly down). I didn’t know how the art world worked or what I had to do to achieve marketable quality. That led to lots of unrealistic expectations and the accompanying disappointments.
I even changed cities, thinking: bigger city, better sales prospects, right? That didn’t work out either, given my squeamishness about marketing and seeking media attention. In short, like many of you, I had a host of barriers to a life of contented artistic output.
That began to change when I trudged through a West Coast downpour to a bookstore, where I picked up The Van Gogh Blues by Eric Maisel, PhD, who founded the profession of creativity coaching.
Maisel taught me that by definition, creatives are more prone to depression and anxiety, thanks to that heightened sensitivity that allows us to see the world in new and nuanced ways. By becoming intimately familiar with your unique creative process and the internal and external obstacles you face – as well as developing the knowledge and skills to tackle those obstacles – you can manage your emotions and save yourself years of unhappy floundering.
One way to gain that familiarity is to work with a coach.
I’ve been on both sides of the coaching relationship, and I love that it provides a safe space for you to talk about anything that affects your creative life. A coach listens with empathy, supports you in your struggles, and points you to potentially helpful resources.
Through a series of thought-provoking questions, your coach helps you find your own solutions. One of my clients ended our sessions after a few weeks, saying she now knew how to arrange her schedule to suit her peak creative times of the day, and how to protect her creative space and time. She had found a job that supported her adequately, yet left her ample time for drawing. She also felt she had acquired the self-mastery tools to help her calmly handle any obstacles that came up.
Whether you work with a coach or take the self-taught approach, know that you’re not alone in your struggles. When I took my coaching training, I was amazed at how many issues I had in common with writers and musicians, particularly in terms of the inner experience of creativity. My resources page has a list of books that I’ve found inspiring and truly useful. Read The Bold Brush FineArtViews newsletter, which I consider another gem.
Please comment on this post, and let’s get some conversations going about the issues we creatives face, whether we’re painters, singers, or writers. If you’re interested in becoming a coaching client, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange your free first consultation.
Stay safe, and keep creating! ????