Autonomous Creative

Do it now.

Published 10 months ago • 4 min read

The bad news is: You think you can learn yourself out of this bind. You can’t.

The good news is: You already have what you need.

Here are three lessons I’ve learned as a coach, from my awesome clients.

1. Things don’t have to be hard to be worthwhile

It’s the nature of scarcity to make us value things that are rare. (Think gold. Sure, it’s pretty, but if it weren’t rare it wouldn’t be worth much.)

The flipside of scarcity-based value is that we devalue things that are plentiful. You’re probably not feeling deeply grateful for toothbrushes or, like, carrots. But day to day, they do a lot more to make your life better than gold does!

OK, that’s silliness, I know.

But when you’re looking at your own life, what you’ve learned and done, you’re more likely to value skills and abilities that are really a stretch, or things you’re still learning, than what you’ve already mastered, or what comes naturally to you.

So today, I encourage you to pay attention to what you’re awesome at, what people love to ask your help with, what feels simple and yet makes people (including you) happy.

I bet you dismiss those things as “easy”—and thus unimportant. But sometimes they’re the key to finding a direction with your creative life where things start to click into place rather than feeling like you’re fighting the tide.

This lesson comes from someone who was working towards a goal that felt inspiring, but that ironically caused him to devalue what he was already doing, and enjoying, and getting really super good at.

The ostensible goal felt hard and was blocked at every turn, because he was facing building up a whole new network and years of new experience to achieve his vision.

But as soon as he turned his focus to the life he’d actually built while he was reaching for the new thing, the dam broke and everything started to feel easy and fall into place.

2. Let your freak flag fly

…Because that’s the banner about which your people will gather.

We spend a ton of time trying to polish off the rough edges, to present a shiny, perfected self via social media.

We stop ourselves from sharing and publishing and even finishing because we’re afraid of what people will think, or that we’ll be pigeonholed or diminished.

It’s super hard to share work that reveals anything about you, but if, on the other hand, you manage to create work that doesn’t, that’s generic enough that anyone with the technical skills could make it…

…congratulations, you’ve just made yourself into a cog.

Hireable, but utterly replaceable.

But if you’re like most people and you’re not able to grind your creative work to a fine, standardized sheen, and fit in like a cog in a machine, that’s a good thing.

The specificity of your experience and your perspective is what makes your work compelling. It’s what makes it unique.

Specific, unique, compelling work may appeal to fewer people…but they’re going to love it a LOT more.

This lesson comes from someone who felt her authentic self would be judged and found wanting, and so she tried to fit into the mold.

Until she realized that the only way she becomes the star she’s meant to be is by tapping into her own story, and showing up as herself.

3. Imperfect action beats perfection every time

I learn this one and teach it over and over.

I was teaching a workshop recently to 50 or so people that was supposed to be about how to put time for making their dream projects on the calendar. However, the questions I got were much more about overcoming fear and perfectionism.

If it feels risky to finish and publish, you’re in good company. Most people feel this way.

The fear is real. But the true risks, the negative results that could actually result from starting something, are (usually) not that dangerous. If you boil it down to specifics, you may find you fear negative comments, or a rejection letter. Painful, but not all that serious.

On the other hand, if you let your fear stop you from finishing and publishing and moving on to the next thing, the risk is much greater.

The risk is that you’ll never do the thing you envision so fiercely.

Weigh those risks.

Facing the possibility of embarrassment or disappointment versus living out your life, never becoming that person who does the thing you dream of doing.

It’s your choice.

This lesson comes from someone who’s a member of a community of other artists. The community was incredibly important to her, but she felt like a perpetual student learning at the feet of these more experienced artists.

She wanted to contribute more, but didn’t know how.

She realized that although her experience wasn’t extensive, she’d been doing a type of project that no one else had tried, and she was able to plan a workshop where she’d be able to contribute to the group’s educational mission—not in a few years, after she’d studied and worked and mastered some new, undefined level, but NOW. With just a few weeks of simple prep.

It’s a simple, small step.

It’s not what she imagines doing in the future, when she’ll have finished many more projects and be able to lead complex trainings at a high level.

But her immediate, imperfect action will start helping younger artists right away. It will help her pay it forward now, not in some misty distant future that may never arrive.

Do it now—you’ve got what it takes!



P.S. If you feel the pull of an amazing project, but you’re unable to gain traction, I’ve got GREAT news! I’m planning a flash sale of the Creative Focus Workshop, where you’ll master the art of finishing hard things that are on no one’s agenda but your own, with an unbeatable price for the course plus awesome bonuses, starting May 11!

AND if you know doing an online course (even one as effective as the CFW) just isn’t where you’re at right now, I’ve got even better news! I’m developing a LIVE program to get the benefits of the CFW in record time, with my help all along the way. Not ready to drop details yet, but I hope you will be as excited as I am!

Want to be the first to hear when we’ve got the info ready? Click here!

DON’T want to hear another peep about getting your ambitious, inspiring projects finished and shipped? 🚫Click here and we’ll pause you until Mid-May.🚫 Thanks for sharing your preferences!

Autonomous Creative

With Jessica Abel

For creative iconoclasts who want to pay their bills AND do the work they love, get insights, ideas, and next steps from a graphic novelist, author, & business coach. Find out how to build a balanced and productive creative life, and to thrive financially with simple, sustainable business foundations—without creative compromise.

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