As more of you sign on for our Grow Your Art Challenge this year, I’m keenly aware of the ‘challenge’ part of the project. For me, setting a goal is the fun part. The real challenge begins the morning after. It is now up to us to drag ourselves out of bed, get into the studio, or in front of the computer, and do the work. And there is no magic in that. Or is there?
This week I’ve found great encouragement and tips from the shared struggle of others online, working towards some creative goal and overcoming obstacles to do it. Perhaps you’ll find inspiration in their stories as well. Perhaps you’ll even find some tools for the journey.
Meet Michael Nobbs and Do One Thing Today
Michael Nobbs produces the One Thing Today podcast. Michael Nobbs would tell you that much can be accomplished, over time, by doing just one thing today. He is incredibly right.
Michael Nobbs suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. This means he has very little energy. This means that he rarely ‘feels like’ engaging in creative work (or even play). His website, Sustainably Creative is an inspiration to me, as I often face free time without the energy or drive to use it well.
Here are some tips Nobbs has learned to get push through and build a creative life, regardless of his challenges.
"Slowly, over the past decade or so, as I have built up a creative career I’ve learnt that the way to have a sustainably creative life takes three basic things:
1. Working little and often (perhaps for just 20 minutes or less a day). 2. Focus. 3. Recognising what has been achieved."
You can view an introductory video by Michael Nobbs, read more, buy books and subscribe to resources on his website, http://www.sustainablycreative.com
(I discovered this site thanks to the good folks at 99u.com - you'll notice that's a theme this week)
Meet Joe Gebbia and Start With a Small Single Step
In this 99u Conference talk from one of the founders of AirBnB (the best way to travel, in my opinion), you’ll move through an exercise that helps you visualize your desired future, and then take one small step towards that future. Not a bad way to spend 20 minutes.
Meet Brad and Work Your Strengths
Edmonton is so full of innovative, positive ideas (just consider makesomethingedmonton.ca). It’s one of the reasons I love it here.
Brad is a small business owner in Edmonton. Brad is 25 and has autism. This is a challenge. But Brad is very good at building things. This is a strength. Brad put his strengths to work to start a business assembling furniture. Brad can make your IKEA visits stress free. Something about this whole idea just makes my heart smile.
Find Brad’s business at madebybrad.com
Meet Your Creative Support Group
Another wonderful piece from 99u.com encourages us to find a ‘Creative Support Group’, by reminding us of the Inklings, that magical fellowship including CS Lewis, JRR Tolkein and others.
In How Your Friends Affect Your Creative Work, David Burkus distinguishes between online sharing of work, and face to face sessions with trusted friends. He counsels,
"While we can broadcast our work to the entire world, perhaps we all need to first carve out a space in our life to broadcast on a much smaller scale to a trusted group of folks we respect.”
His brief piece, encouraging us to find valuable critique for our work, is well worth the read here - http://99u.com/articles/21521/in-praise-of-the-creative-support-group
While we’re talking about sharing your work with friends, you are coming to our next Arts Potluck on February 7, right?
Meet Your Self, Three Years Ago
Sometimes it is helpful to look in the mirror of the past and recognize what you have accomplished. We can so easily forget where we’ve been, like the ancient Israelites feeling abandoned by God after he’d parted the sea for their safe passage.
As I’ve been looking ahead to a year of making music and meeting my creative goals, I’ve been reminded of my Tiny Gold Squares. A few years ago, I wanted to paint my bedroom wall gold. It was covered in wallpaper, and that wallpaper was full of a pattern of raised squares, about 2 inches across. I couldn’t find gold wall paint, but I did have gold craft paint, and I thought it’d look pretty cool to paint each of these tiny squares gold, leaving the muted sandy hue behind. I was right, but painting those squares, by hand, took hours. And hours.
The whole project of my wall was overwhelming. Unless I painted it one square at a time. Several squares a day. Over days and weeks. I had to work little bits at a time. I had to be content with that. I had to be patient. And in the end, I finished.
Here is the piece I wrote about the experience upon completion, back in 2011.
So, if you haven’t taken the Grow Your Art Challenge yet, please sign up and join us. And when you do, remember to break things down into small steps, work your strengths and paint at least one Tiny Gold Square today.