Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Making Your Creative Mark by Eric Maisel

Creativity coach Eric Maisel has been featured on this blog a couple of times, first when he visited as part of a blog tour for his book, The Van Gogh Blues, and again for inspiring my posts about 15 Minutes of Foolery. Now he has a new book out for artists and creative types called Making Your Creative Mark: Nine Keys To Achieving Your Creative Goals.

This new book functions as a “user's manual” for artists and draws from Maisel's 30 years of working with creative people as coach and therapist. The material will be familiar to anyone who has read Maisel's other books, and effectively provides a companion piece to his book, Creativity for Life, by focusing the main points into the 9 keys and bringing them to life with stories from his clients.
“Most people are not able to create a successful life in the arts. The problems are Darwinian and concern supply and demand. There aren't enough slices of the pie for all the people who want to act, dance, write, paint, sing, and direct. Whether it is one person in a hundred who makes it in your discipline or one in ten thousand, you want to be that one. You are free to try to prove the exception and be that one.” (p. 67)
Choosing a life in the arts can be foolish. Not only are the odds of success against you, but artists' strong imaginations can work against their happiness, their success, and their own creativity. Maisel points out that artists often think in ways that hurt their process and careers, but he also provides techniques for those same artists, some of which, in the spirit of this blog, might appear foolish, like making big mistakes and messes:
Q: I’d like you to chat a bit about what you call the “freedom key.” What sort of freedom are you talking about?
Maisel: Many different sorts—let’s look at just one, the freedom not be perfect; or, to put it slightly differently, the freedom to make big mistakes and messes. Not so long ago I got an email from a painter in Rhode Island. She wrote, “I'm a perfectionist and I want my artwork to be perfect. Sometimes this prevents me from getting started on a new project or from finishing the one I’m currently working on. I think to myself: If it's not going to be the best, why bother to do it? How do I move past these feelings?” One way to get out of this trap is to move from a purely intellectual understanding that messes are part of the creative process to a genuine visceral understanding of that truth. You need to feel that freedom in your body. As an intellectual matter, every artist knows that some percentage of her work will prove less than stellar, especially if she is taking risks with subject matter or technique. But accepting that obvious truth on a feeling level eludes far too many creative and would-be creative people. They want to “perfect” things in their head before turning to the canvas or the computer screen and a result they stay in their head and never get started. You have to feel free to show up and make a big mess—only then will good things start happening!
(From an Interview with Eric Maisel).
Making Your Creative Mark should be handed out at graduation for art and theatre majors–or even first day of school–but truthfully, artists at any stage of their career would benefit. Us fools need all the help we can get!

Come back tomorrow for an excerpt from Making Your Creative Mark.
Eric Maisel is the author of Making Your Creative Mark and twenty other creativity titles including Mastering Creative Anxiety, Brainstorm, Creativity for Life, and Coaching the Artist Within. America’s foremost creativity coach, he is widely known as a creativity expert who coaches individuals and trains creativity coaches through workshops and keynotes nationally and internationally. He has blogs on the Huffington Post and Psychology Today and writes a column for Professional Artist Magazine. Visit him online at http://www.ericmaisel.com.

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