Your Creative Groove

Creativekid
Would you like to feel more productive, more excited, and less like you're pulling teeth while creating your artwork?  It could be as simple as turning your desk to face a window. 

Does it ever seem like you're just not "on your game" and you can't figure out why?  Perhaps you haven't yet found your Creative Groove.  I had a realization recently that changed my whole sense of myself as an artist and creator.  I was feeling discouraged about writing comedy, and not getting that "funny" feeling I get when I something makes me laugh for a while. 

One day, while talking about it with a friend, we started joking and laughing, and I suddenly remembered that I'm funny when I'm with other people!  Things strike me as funny, and I get to share them around people I have fun with–particularly people who I don't feel competitive with or judged by.  That's when I open up, laugh at things, and start to feel the creative juices flowing.  That's also when I pull out my notebook and joke that I'm going to write down what just happened.  My friends laugh, but I really write it all down.  If we "wrote" it together, I ask their permission to talk about it on stage. 

I also know about myself that once I've written notes, I need time on my own to edit, sort things out, and use the other side of my brain to see what else I can fill in.  I also use the time on my own to reflect if what I'm writing about really feels like it's in my "voice" and it's aligned with what I want to say to the world, or if it's really been influenced by that particular group of friends.  Then, I go back to people again–this time an audience–to work on my material next. 

I actually knew how to get into my Creative Groove, but I'd forgotten.  Do you know where to tap into your Creative Groove?  Take some time to answer these questions to help you consider when you feel most creative.  What does your body or heart want to tell you about when it's happiest and most free?  Is it:

Night time? Morning? Afternoon?
Every day, same time?
Big chunks some days? Little bits every day?
Doing it when you don't feel like it and then getting in the groove?
Only when you feel like it?
Do you groove better around people or alone?
Which part of the house? Or maybe a cafe?  Loud cafe or quiet one?
Maybe at a co-working facility?
What foods help you create better?
Are you more creative standing? Walking? Dancing? How about showering?
Do you need to meditate, exercise, eat, sleep, or vent before you're ready to create?

"Would you eat them in a box?  Would you eat them with a fox?"

-Dr. Suess

If feels like Green Eggs and Ham, you're on the right track.  Invest some time getting to know just how you like to work!  You'll be happy you did.

How to Actually Manifest Your Dream, Part 6 of 7

Pushpin
In the last post, we used different hats to have your inner creator, appreciator, and editor work with you.  Today, it's time to look at the logistics of your project.  Is it an album?  A one-person-show?  We'll take a break from the "inner work" to look at a checklist of possible things you might to do help the world receive your gift more fully. 

Take note that as you come close to fruition, you will be likely to find ways to self-sabotage all the great work you've done so far.  Keep in touch with your daily action partner, and keep posted somewhere the purpose why you're doing this to help stay powerful in the face of obstacles.

The creative part:

  • Is your work "on track?" Have you been spending the right balance of time creating/editing/planning?
  • Have you gotten feedback from people who gave constructive information about your piece without criticism?

The event:

  • Have you sent emails?  Put out a press release?  Sent the info to lists and groups and social networks?
  • Have you created images or video to let people see a preview so they can get exciting about the event?
  • Have you been letting everyone you know and meet how excited you are and how they can participate?
  • Have you asked people to support you by helping at the event?
  • Have you checked on the venue?  Have you checked on the people putting together any external part of your project?
  • Do you have to pay for services?  Let people know about your preferences?  Have someone host or introduce you?  Will other people perform/exhibit/etc at the event?

This is the time to cull all of the work you've done into what feels like a "finished piece".  It's likely that it won't "feel" finished.  Don't worry.  As my friend Brian says, "Better done than good."  You'll always have time to improve upon it or make something even better with all that you've learned from this experience. 

Before you present your material to the public, make sure that you've presented it to a good friend who can give you feedback with enough time to re-vamp anything that needs clarification.

In the final post on actually manifesting your dream, we'll get to the best part: celebration!

"Action that is inspired from aligned thought is joyful action.
Action that is offered from a place of contradicted thought
is hard work that is not satisfying and does not yield good
results. When you really feel like jumping into action, that
is a clear sign that your vibration is pure and you are not
offering contradicting thoughts to your own desire. When you
are having a hard time making yourself do something, or when
the action you offer does not produce the results you are
seeking, it is always because you are offering thoughts in
opposition to your desire."

-Esther Hicks

How to Actually Manifest Your Dream, Part 5 of 7

Hat
In the last post, you were in the "creation" phase.  Creation is always happening, but it can get blocked, so we did a lot of exercises to make a safe container for the creative part of you to unfold.  As you move into the next phase, keep taking time to be intentionally and spontaneously in creation–free of criticism. 

And now, very gently and clearly, we're going to begin the process of editing.  Many people consider editing to be the most important part of art because this is where we begin to turn toward the idea of our work being received.  Many people consider art incomplete until it is in fact received–that seeing, hearing, or experiencing the work is its last phase of creation, "closing the loop."  I agree with this, but I also feel that for some art works, the maker can also be the best audience.  If we don't please ourselves in our art, we're not doing anyone else any favors!

So here's an exercise to transition yourself temporarily from creator to editor, feeler to thinker: 

Get three actual hats.  Really do this…  Maybe your "creator" hat is big and silly, your "appreciator" hat is beautiful and flowery, and your "editor" hat is like a newspaper editor's? 

Have your "creator" hat on while you're brainstorming, writing, drawing, singing…  After your allotted creating time, take off your creator hat, and put on your "appreciator" hat.  As the appreciator, you will talk to the creator for a few minutes and let her (or him) know how thankful you are to her for being so open and uncensored.  Tell her how it felt (fun? silly? exhilarating?) to be with her, and how happy you are that she has come to play with you.  Tell her that the next step you are going to take is to gather, organize, and edit what she has delivered so you can deliver this gift to the world!  Ask her if she has any requests of how you shape the material.  Ask if she will stay as an observer of the process to help keep the integrity of the work.  When you are done, take your appreciator hat off and put on your editor hat. 

If your creator lives mostly in your second chakra (the pelvis), your appreciator lives mostly in your heart chakra.  Your editor lives in your throat and "third eye" chakras.  Sitting with your back straight so all of your chakras are aligned, begin to look at your work with a warm, clear head.  Look at it as if it's not in fact your work at all, but the work of your best friend.  Begin to sort, clarify, and solidify what's there, seeing the best in it, and looking for places to chip away the extraneous pieces.  Do more cutting than adding.  Finish off your session with a quick flip of the appreciator hat and remind yourself how much great work you've just done and what your purpose in doing this is!

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful
servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has
forgotten the gift."

-Albert Einstein

How to Actually Manifest Your Dream, Part 4 of 7

Blueheron
In the last post, we discussed having a daily action partner and dealing with the inner critic.  At this point, you're ready to let your creativity soar!  If you're still finding it a challenge to let go, try this exercise, and then return to Part 4.

This is it!  Find your magic creative place, plunk yourself there, and get into it!  You might find you work best at night or during the day, standing or sitting, at home alone or surrounded by lots of people.  If you're writing, instrumental music can help put you in the mood.  A study found that people exercise 25% longer when they listen to music.  I would bet the same principle works for creative work. 

This is the time for you to create and create and create.  Your inner critic is not needed here.  Everything you need to create is in you now.  

"Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it/ Boldness has genius, power and magic in it."

-Goethe

How to Actually Manifest Your Dream, Part 3 of 7

Friends
Find a daily action partner.  This will be the person who you check in every day with about the plan you made in Part 2. Call them every morning, state what you will do for the day, what might get in your way, and what you will do about it.  Your action partner should be someone you can discuss your logistical issues with as well as emotional issues that may come up in response to the new level you're working on.  Let your action partner know that what you'd like from them is to listen and be supportive and to call you out when you're off-target.  Know that just taking the action to call another person who really gets what you're working toward will bring you strength. 

Each time we move up to a higher level of productivity, creativity, or integrity, the part of us that has been stuck can get scared.  You can address that part of you by actually talking to it, respecting it's concerns, and giving it a voice.  Once you've done that, "mine" what your inner critic has told you.  (Don't bother arguing with it; it's not reasonable!)  Is there anything your critic said that you can use creatively?  Sometimes our greatest treasure is the same thing that holds us back.  If your critic were giving you a gift, what would it be? 

After you've listened to and mined your critic's message, move on.  You can even set a timer for, say, five minutes, to listen to you critic.  When time's up, set it aside and begin your creative work.

"Friendship improves happiness and abates misery, by the doubling of our joy and the dividing of our grief."

-Marcus Tullius Ceicero

How to Actually Manifest Your Dream, Part 2 of 7

Brainstorm
Sometimes
creativity coaching is not so much about the creative part, but the coaching part. 

The first step to making your vision a reality is to create a timeline.  Maybe you've decided to record an album.  Set a date for the album's release.  Perhaps that's one year from now.  Work backwards, setting each date on a giant calendar that you will post in your workspace.  If you don't know what all the steps are in the process are, this is the time to research it.  Set deadlines for each major component, and then break the major components into minor ones, and set dates for those.  Then, break each minor component into simple, single-action steps that you can do each day. 

Your major deadlines might look like this:

  • release date and party: December 1st
  • send album to press: November 1st
  • send tracks for mastering: October 1st
  • complete studio recording: September 1st
  • find musicians for studio work: June 1st
  • complete songwriting: April 1st
  • find artist to design album cover: March 1st
  • create a list of songs you will write: February 1st
  • decide on concept for album: January 1st

In between the major deadlines under "find musicians for studio work," it might look like this:

  • meet with producer, decide which songs need which instruments
  • make a list of instruments needed
  • make a list of musicians
  • ask musician friends
  • put an ad on "performer" website for musicians
  • put an email out to friends to find musicians
  • put an ad on craigslist to find musicians
  • decide on budget for musicians
  • speak with, meet, and audition possible musicians
  • decide on who you will work with

In between these minor deadlines under "put an ad on craigslist to find musicians," it might look like this:

  • write draft of ad
  • have someone proofread it
  • post
  • respond

You will soon have a comprehensive plan of how to get from here to there.

"All great masters are chiefly distinguished by the power of adding a
second, a third, and perhaps a fourth step in a continuous line. Many a
man had taken the first step. With every additional step you enhance
immensely the value of your first."

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Coming up next in Part Three: creating a support network to help you achieve your goal.

Testimonial – Creativity Coaching

"Alicia is a heartfelt, deep, vibrant, and creative soul who brings a new flair to life coaching.   Merging her stand up comedy, her spirituality and her deep wealth of life experience Alicia stands out as life coach ready to dig deep into the heart of the matter, while encouraging you to step beyond your own fears to do what it takes to have the life you love.  

Through coaching with Alicia, I was able to start painting again and got back in touch with my creative side.  She is a deep listener and helped me sort through the chatter in my head giving me focus and clarity around my life path.  

If you're looking to spark your creative side or simply looking for someone to help get you back on track Alicia is a wonderful coach!  I've met a lot of different coaches in my day and I highly recommend her as one that stands out amongst the others."

~Suzette H.

Creating What You Really Want

Woman_standing_at_sea
Do you find yourself repeating behaviors that sabotage your creative work or your enjoyment of life?  Self-sabotage started as a coping mechanism that helped us get through something difficult when we were younger.  When the situation we were protecting ourselves from chages, we no longer need that coping mechanism.  But it can be difficult to see how to let it go. 

Try this meditation: 

  • sit with your back straight, feel your feet on the floor, close your eyes
  • take several deep breaths, sending your breath down through your feet and into the earth
  • when you feel held and supported by the earth, call the part of you who seems to "sabotage" your best efforts, imagine him or her standing in front of you
  • ask gently what their role has been in your life
  • thank them deeply for taking on that role, and let them know you're choosing to respond to stressors in a new way
  • give them a new job: perhaps they are now a witness or an observer for you
  • ask if there's anything else they'd like to tell you, and then send them home
  • notice if you sense any shift in your body, and allow whatever is occuring
  • take several deep breaths, feel yourself connected to the earth, slowly open your eyes

Integrating all parts of our being and overcoming self-sabotage is sometimes a slow, meandering process, sometimes it happens in an instant.  Each of us unfolds in our own unique way, always moving toward freedom and openness, even when it seems the opposite is true.  Be gentle with yourself in this unfolding.

    "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."

    -His Holiness, The Dalai Lama

Taking a Leap of Faith

Cliff
Living a creative life, especially deciding to make a living from your art involves taking a giant leap of faith–of a very big cliff.  It's easy to back off from the cliff when the inner critic starts to pipe up.

Often, artists say things like, "I'm not a very good business person." or "Don't worry if you don't see my show, who knows how good it'll be." or "Maybe I'm
just not ready to hit the big time." Us creative types tend to either downplay or oversell their creative work. Why?  What makes us think our work is less valuable than the paving of a road, or the filing of a dental x-ray, or the programming of a computer? 

Think of the most important moments in your life, those that were inspired, those that brought you to a new level of understanding about what life means to you.  Was art part of that?  Was it something you read in a book or a piece of music your heard?  A film you saw?  Each of the creators of those works pushed past the internal and external voices that said, "Don't bother." 

Not all of us will make a living from the creative work that comes from the core expression of our being, but perhaps there could be more singing road pavers, dental x-ray painters, and authors who program computers.  We can take the myriad of voices who find all the reasons to say "No" and transform them into voices who say, "You do your creative work, and I will support you by thinking logically, planning for the future, and helping you pack the parachute… if you insist on jumping off this cliff!"
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"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence…  Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.  The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."

    -Calvin Coolidge

Find your way, no matter what.

Woodpath
In my creativity coaching practice, I work with all kinds of performers.  A client of mine just told me that she had quit performing for a year because of some unkind words from a booker.  The booker's words had nothing to do with her performance; he was upset about something else.  She knew that, but was so shocked by such treatment that she didn't return to the stage. 

Guess what she did with that yearShe spent it honing her craftShe recorded and watched herself performing over and over again, rehearsed every day, and created a rock-solid repertoire.  (Insert montage sequence with the theme from Rocky here.)  When she worked up the courage to return to the stage, she knew her talent and skill was unquestionable.  And if a booker (or audience member, or anyone) ever speaks unkindly again, she'll know without a doubt that it's because they had a bad day.  And more importantly, she's knows she's earned her self-esteem and her place on stage.  I just saw her perform for the first time, and she's soulful, highly skilled, and beautifully in touch with her heart.

Her commitment to her goals in the face of fear inspires me.

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    "The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor."

    -Vince Lombardi