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Designing A Creative Life One Step At A Time

Oct 7, 2007
The creative life is somewhat of a paradox. That is, if you define a creative life as a life that produces ample amounts of recognized creative output during its decades of existence. In order to produce plenty of creative output over the sustained period of a lifetime, a large helping of discipline is involved. That and some extremely robust routines.

Here we encounter the paradox, because discipline and routine are not popularly associated with the concept of creativity. They would seem to cut across the very nature of inspiration and imagination. Ideas of a creative life tend to be linked, rather, with the spontaneous freedom of a bohemian existence. And yet those who achieve a level of mastery and artistry in their creative field have, almost without exception, done so through many years of sustained and disciplined effort.

So when you begin to think about designing a creative life for yourself, the grand scale of it can be exciting but often rather daunting. I mean, if you've got a whole glorious life to plan and create, where and how on earth do you start? Will you be able to withstand the degree of sustained discipline and effort required of you? Will you get blocked?

Julia Cameron writes in The Artist's Way: "Blocked creatives like to think they are looking at changing their whole life in one fell swoop. This form of grandiosity is often its own undoing... Fantasizing about pursuing our art full-time, we fail to pursue it part-time - or at all."

Any grand plan, any change of habit always involves taking one step at a time. So while it's important to know the color and flavor of your very own big picture, it's actually just the backdrop for the actions you're going to take today, tomorrow and the day after. Be very careful not to let the sheer scale of your ambitions for the future prevent you from taking the first small steps toward your dreams today.

Taking one step at a time means that you hold the big picture in your imagination as the vision you're moving towards. You need a big picture to make sure that the steps you take on a daily basis are moving you in the right direction. But at the same time you need to be aiming for smaller, short-term, tangible goals consistently. As time passes and you work your way through a series of shorter-term goals, you'll be able to look back and see each small achievement as one in a series of stepping stones, leading you with a hop, skip and a jump to your bigger dream goals.

Julia Cameron, again, advises: "Take one small daily action instead of indulging in the big questions. When we allow ourselves to wallow in the big questions, we fail to find the small answers."
About the Author
If you're brimming with creative ideas but struggling to develop them into tangible output, the practical support of a coach can make all the difference.

Mary McNeil of Create a Space is an experienced, ICF-certified life coach, natural born planner and declutterer extraordinaire! She works with artists, writers and musicians, coaching and supporting them as they make creative output a practical reality.
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