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In the closet

I have friends who self identify as artists. They use the term often and freely–in conversation, in their Instagram names, on their websites where they describe themselves as artists and creatives and all sorts of other deep things disguised amongst the buzzwords.

I, however, have had a long journey to self identifying as an artist, and even now, I would prefer not to use that term. I’m not a reallll artist like them. I would never put it out there so publicly.

I’m sort of a closet artist. I just try to live as creatively as I can each day. And some days that means I give an artful swirl to my peanut butter on toast or I pause for a few seconds to revel in the beauty of the steam lifting off my freshly poured coffee or the way the sun feels just so–which after a record breaking michigan winter (in both length and severity) is certainly something deserving of reveling.

But obviously I hope for the other days too, where I am more like the “real” artists. I love finding this new way of art and creativity in every minute thing because it has given me the freedom to embrace an identity as an artist– one I never thought I needed, but somehow sort of came to find me and camp out like a stray dog refusing to leave until I patted it on the head and said fine, you can stay. You can be mine. I will be an artist.

And secondly, it’s a lot less scary to be an every-moment artist. For your craft to be all those little hidden secret things, and occasionally bigger public things, but only when you feel really good about it. It takes away all the risk and vulnerability.

But maybe it takes away some of the honesty too. And so–I’m working on continuing the baby steps towards leaving my secret artist closet and fulling embracing what it could be to be “real artist”.

One of the books I’m reading right now is “Art and Fear”, and it’s been very helpful in this path of learning so far. Hopefully I can finish it soon and get some notes and quotes up from it.

AND I’ve got something special planned for Foto Friday this week. It should actually even happen on Friday. Woohoo!

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The Accidental Creative

I have already made references to this book in my previous blog posts, but I wanted to type up some of the most profound points I found in Todd Henry’s “The Accidental Creative”. Reading this book was incredibly timely for me, and I learned so much about managing my energy, and not just my time. So, without further ado, please enjoy these quotes and notes!  (And perhaps check the book out for yourself!)

“When the pull between possibilities and pragmatics becomes too strong, the rope is taut, eliminating the peaks and troughs of productivity required to do our best creative work.”

Our best creative work (truly, sustainable creativity) is the result of creative rhythms. 5 elements of creative rhythms are:

  1. Focus – Less wasted time, clear and concrete objectives, and weeding our unimportant activities.
  2. Relationships – Systematically engage with other people to be reminded life is bigger than your immediate problems.
  3. Energy – Energy management, not time management.
  4. Stimuli – Creative nutrition, quality output depends on quality input.
  5. Hours – Ensure the practices that make you an effective creative actually make it onto the calendar.

Producing great work consistently and in a sustainable way is the sum of being prolific + brilliant + healthy.

You need relationships in your life where:

  1. You can be real.
  2. You can learn to risk.
  3. You learn to submit to the wisdom of others.

We think we can fill all available time and have energy for it all if we have the time for it all. But that’s not the case–time and energy are different resources. Each time you give energy to one project (professional or personal), that’s energy that you can’t give somewhere else.

Practice of pruning: “You can have anything you want, but you can’t have everything you want.”

“You cannot live with an ‘always on’ mindset.”

“How you define greatness ultimately will define your life.”

Take no unaccomplished projects, dreams, or ideas to the grave with you. Each and every day, get out of you whatever is of value to others. Die empty.

This is only skimming the surface of the brilliance, the pure gold of this book! I learned so much from reading it, even though I had honestly forgotten about most of the things that it said until re-reading my notes. And the book is full of practices to incorporate into your life to really maintain a healthy creative rhythm. But even if I just revisit these ideas every so often and work on one or two new things each time, I will be improving my creating abilities and endurance. I also just revisited Todd Henry’s website and found that he has written another book on that idea of dying empty, so I’m definitely adding that to my list of books to read! Maybe you’ll get some more Todd Henry in the future.

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