Creating and sustaining a creative life is tough for two major reasons. First, it requires daily consciousness of what the heck you are doing, where you want to go, and focus on what to do next. This feels so different than the other parts of our life that require no brains. Think of how it is no sweat to do things unconsciously such as drive a car, find your way to work, grab the same old lunch day after day, or take your dog for a walk. Although all of those things took some sweat (full on awareness) earlier in your life, they are habits now. Habits are tracks of thought that you just fall into and off you go.

Working to stay unstuck takes sweat with muscle. Muscle comes from: 1.) doing the work and 2.) having the discipline to do your creative work better or longer today than you did last week.

Develop your core activities with the intent of turning them from something hard to do to something that becomes a creative work habit. Start off small (i.e. a small word count, small canvas, small amount of time). Add more, steadily. Don’t fall prey to your inner pusher who wants everything now (impossible). Instead, recognize that you will tackle practice and projects steadily building muscle, building habits.

The second reason all of this is tough is because you are endeavoring to do one of the hardest things in the world—change. The old Mark Twain quip comes in here to remind us of this challenge: “Quitting smoking is easy, I have done it thousand times.” Change, what it is and how to do it, still challenges psychologists to understand what it is, let alone understand how to make it happen. Make no mistake about it, change is tough.

Yes, becoming unstuck is tough but if we go into this work knowing:

Change frequently hurts (requires focus and discipline)

Change means sometimes we succeed and frequently means we will fail until change becomes habit

Change is low down on the list of things we want to do (pleasure comes first, followed by comfort zone stuff, last comes hard work)

Once these truisms are known and accepted, we know it is best to steer into the daily challenges of our creative lives. We accept that in the beginning we will have to push hard and our muscles will ache, but with small, regular efforts, in the face of the pains of change, we can take on the demands of our craft as we expand our presence in that craft.