How These Daily Practices Have Helped Me Find My Inner Artist, And Why I Think They’ll Help You Find Yours
The more comfortable I have become with stepping out into the world every day as a self-identified creative, the more I have started to notice that women are coming up to me in person and asking for advice on how I have made the transition from following a traditional communications career to exploring a more artistic path.
These conversations always have a pattern: my new friends tell me that they feel their creativity might be buried, but that it’s ready to be unlocked; they just are unsure of what steps to take to explore it. I then offer up the tale of my journey to date (and how I was in their shoes two years ago), in the hopes that they find a tip or two to interpret and take into their own lives.
It occurred to me this past weekend, after having another conversation just like this at an event with someone who was in the same stage of uncertainty, that maybe sharing a few of the takeaways I have discovered during my career transition might be valuable to this community. I followed my instincts to find what worked for me, but there is no road map for the brave souls who take this leap, and everyone’s process looks different. These are the five daily practices that have helped me shed a shell of fear and comparison and re-shape my persona with peace and authenticity instead:
- Read and work through The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.
This is your gateway and your step one – it takes twelve weeks, but it will change your life forever. I worked through this book in 2016 (read all about it here), and as soon as I did, all of the necessary major shifts in my life began to happen that catapulted me onto my creative path (I even lost my job 13 days after publishing the post – how’s that for the timing of the Universe?). However, I had to put in the daily work to unblock while I still had my former day job.
- Make a creative nest and spend time in it.
Pay attention to what you love when you see it, and what it is that keeps you coming back to something over and over again. Save what speaks to you — rip from magazines, tear from book pages, print photos from the internet — and take a nook in your home (or an entire room, if you have the space) and make it your inspiration station. Collages, photos, rearranged furniture, art – anything that gives you a hug when you are in the space and makes your imagination run wild. Then do steps 3 and 4 in it (and whatever comes after that) every single day, and update the space with new inspiration every few months.
- Journal and meditate.
You will learn how to write morning pages while working through The Artist’s Way. Keep practicing them after you finish the course. When you journal, you become eerily in touch with your subconscious — at least, that’s what happens to me. When I began to journal every day, I realized that I was the only thing standing in my way of my dreams…all of the fears and doubts I would brain dump and blame other people or circumstances for were all just a product of the limiting beliefs I had learned to develop at a younger age. I think this is what holds most of us back from ever taking that leap. Meditation is the same thing — whether it’s only 5 minutes you spend quieting the thoughts in your head, or your hour of power yoga, or the repetition of your daily mantras — when energy moves through you with ease, creative ideas do too.
- Read books and listen to music instead of watching TV.
This was major for me. I didn’t ever read books and I didn’t really listen to anything other than mainstream music for six years during my “9-5 grind.” I loved watching morning television and used to think it was the biggest luxury in the world to be home on a Holiday and flip channels between the major networks to catch all of the banter. After stepping away from life in the mainstream, I realized I actually didn’t want anything to do with watching the news. It’s loud, the stories make me anxious, and I’d much rather read my news in the WSJ because it’s visually and grammatically artistic. It makes for a much calmer and more aesthetically pleasing start to the day. Before I read the WSJ? …I read a book (usually historical fiction). It’s the exercise that wakes up my mind and revs the imagination engine for the day. The music I listen to now? Opera, Jazz, Broadway (for an afternoon pick-me-up), and other easy listening bands like Pink Martini that I find on Spotify. The result: I am always calm and comforted and my creativity oozes with ease.
- Eliminate screen time in the early mornings and late at night.
You cannot produce your best work when you are constantly answering to everyone else. The traditional office environment beats this idea into us that multitasking your day away at lightning speed means you are good at what you do and you’re productive. The work I put out when I was in environments like this was completely unoriginal and uninspired. Nothing was ever a representation of my best. A distracted day begins and ends with our smart phones, and I don’t have time for that anymore. I don’t care who needs me, my phone is on do not disturb until 10am and it’s back that way again by 10pm. (I love do not disturb so much that there are more days than I’d like to admit when I never turn it off). It has caused my productivity and my focus to skyrocket. Most importantly though…it has caused me to overcome my addiction of scrolling through my feeds and comparing myself to others. If you don’t start or end your day doing this, you’d be surprised how your work starts to come from a place of pure magic inside of you, instead of a place of unoriginality trying to keep up with others. The world needs more of your magic — own it and be proud to stand out. When you do, you will begin to attract opportunities and relationships that will get you steps closer to your dreams.