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Thank goodness we have size fear. Imagine visiting the beach for the first time and deciding to swim across the ocean. Imagine looking in a pastry shop window and deciding to eat everything in the display. Thank goodness we have something in us that says “Whoa! Wait. You can’t tangle with that.” Without size fear/respect we would be in big trouble from big things. Megalophobia is the diagnostic term used in psychotherapy for fear of the big. Those who suffer with it often report being overwhelmed with anxiety in the presence of big objects or open spaces. How different is…

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“If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.”- That’s the original from Epictetus (55 AD to 135 AD) Here are some possible updates: “If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid by those parts of yourself who are afraid to go against _______________” “If you want to be creative beyond your day-job, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.” “If you want to explore and experiment in your area of creativity using money you should spend on what others think you should, be content to be thought foolish and…

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Quietly, below the surface, from ancient times to the present there has been a vein of creative energy running through select Creatives. In the East this has manifested in the Living National Treasures of Japan, for instance, or the tea ceremony, or zen archery. In the West, the lore of Edison and Steve Jobs as models of persistence/perfection, the grand masters of painting, fine crafts, high level sports/adventure, and the movie Groundhog Day, are a few examples. The distinguishing features of this vein is the emphasis on practice, not the other two “P”s, process or product.  Practice is calm, travels at…

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Seriously. Just as soon as you can, go produce a pile of crap. Give your best shot at: writing the worst page of fiction/non-fiction/poetry in the history of the world. Go hit a canvas with the worst materials, horrible colors, and ugly brush strokes ever cursing the eyes of humanity. Or, if photography is your thing, zero in on the most boring-assed subject, with the most boring-assed composition, with the most ineffective lighting you can find. Paper arts, fiber arts, music….no problem. Go and suck at what you do. Sit, stand, recline and do what you do but it must…

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Since the 1990s, Julia Cameron has dominated the bookshelves, bookstores, and church basements with her “The Artist Way” series of writings. At the center of each work is Cameron’s two regular exercises for Creatives—the artist date and morning pages. The artist date is not a date with an artist, though that would be good too, but a weekly visit to a creative place such as a gallery, bookstore, creative group, etc. The morning pages, what we will consider here, are 750 handwritten words Cameron wants a Creative to write each morning to kick off the day. Cameron points to the…

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Everyone talks about visions and goals. Each is tremendously important for anyone who wants to move forward towards a goal. But lurking right under our nose, not off in some vision of the future or long list of goals is something else. Here are some clues to its identity. It is: something that runs on its own, something that once it gets going is hard to stop; something that can serve us well; and something we don’t have to fuss with. Something that, if designed right, will get our creative work done and will make us masters of our craft. A…

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Sure, we have New Year’s resolutions but what about mid-year declarations? Try making these and others of your own devising, your declaration of independence: I declare that I will begin again, this coming week, in small ways to more fully develop my commitment to myself to bring my creativity into the world. I will start small because I enjoy discovering how my creative work can expand, piece-by-piece, in my life. I declare that I have something to offer to the world, may that be an idea, a product, a reason to go on, help to my fellow creatives, a smile…

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Regardless of who we are or what our project is, we will get “no!” as an answer more often than “yes!”. Right now, sit back and consider how many nos you are likely to face about your work. Be honest and be in reality. Twenty? Fifty? More? Now double that number. Got 20? You got 40. Got a 100? Now you got 200 nos. Write this number down and put it somewhere where you will see it next month, next year, and beyond. Next, go for a walk and repeat the total nos you calculated silently and without fanfare (don’t…

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The downside of not losing weight is having excess weight. Hard to hide that. The visible downside of not stopping smoking is smoking and worse. Can’t hide that. Visible and even dire downsides  can be motivating. Worrying and painful, but motivating nonetheless. Most people reading this post are working on creative projects outside the daily requirements of work, family, friends, pets, commuting, etc. Optional projects just don’t have the power of presence that bad habits and nasty conditions. If you have a bad habit or a nasty condition, you know and everyone knows it. If you have an optional project…

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Some rights reserved by Peter Alfred Hess
There are two types of roads: narrow and wide. The narrow road assumes that your journey will require little sideways movement or much movement at all other than straight ahead. A narrow road is fine for that, getting a person from point A to point B. We all want the fast way to our envisioned goal. No deviations, just straight onward. That’s fine for our ambitions but reality is not likely to give us anything like a narrow and straight road. Most people’s paths are filled with deviations…

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If we show up to our work space and if we show up consistently and if we make an earnest effort while there, something happens. A hook appears. The hook is a special type of motivating power that people who don’t consistently show up fail to experience.They never dream that it is there. One hook but it has several different ways it can dig into us. Which ever way it digs into us, the effects linger. Not forever, but for long enough for us to change our work and for us to be changed as creatives. If it digs in…

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If you are just getting started or stalled out, find a blueprint and run with it. Blueprint?  Yes, look for a blueprint that covers the next steps for you. For instance, if you want to write your first novel, get one of those books that tell people how to write a novel in 30 days, 90 days, a year, or every evening, whatever.  Don’t overly worry about if you have found the absolute best blueprint in the world. What you need is a plan for moving. If the blueprint looks reasonable, get it and carry it everywhere. In your back pack,…

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Painful. Beginner’s mind is painful. We are swamped with self-doubt, uncertainty if we are doing things right, uncertain if we even know what to do next. But that is just the way things go. Being a beginner is being a beginner. We feel out of sorts most of the time, whether we are doing things right or wrong. Everything in our body and mind tells us: “If things feel odd and feel wrong, things must be wrong. Stop!” Don’t believe your mind, it is lying to you. It is not your friend. Discomfort, fear, and doubt are there but it…

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I learned recently from Suzy, a student in one of my The Stuck Creative classes, that all quilters try to push the thought of U.F.O.s out of their minds. Otherwise, going on would just be too disturbing. U.F.O.s , as quilters know them, are Un Finished Objects. Yes, unfinished objects can truly haunt us. There they are in a closet, drawer, a things-to-do box, on a book shelf, in the garage, or some other safe place where they can’t escape. “What to do? What to do?” is the question that plays through our head like Poe’s tell-tale heart thumping away….

We all face a host of inner troublemakers that include: The Inner Critic The Inner Type A Personality Self-Doubt Low Frustration Tolerance Fear Worry Psychotherapy gives us a method to get a grip on these guys when they come up and stop us from working: Take a deep belly breath – That’s right (how simple), breathe into your belly and make it balloon out a bit. Breathe in for a count of 5, hold things naturally for a few seconds and breathe out for a count of 5. Repeat about 6 times and you will find the edge of the…