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Anyone who wants to create - writers, visual artists, musicians, etc. - needs to learn how to develop creative habits, overcome anxiety, and focus on what it is they're trying to accomplish. Most creative people can't - and I think actually shouldn't - run off to some isolated place where there will be no interruptions or distractions. Those interruptions and distractions, the things that go on in a well-rounded life, can be managed and used as inspiration.

This book, Coaching the Artist Within, gives Maisel's advice about the skills a creative person needs in order to maintain passion for life and work. Each chapter is a lesson for developing a skill that Maisel thinks is essential for creating consistently. I thought that some of the chapters were brilliant, and others, like the one called "Eliminating Dualistic Thinking," were obvious, but maybe more people are struggling with the "process v. product" dilemma than I thought.

The chapter on "Passionately Making Meaning" was especially useful for me, because I'm in the middle of a change of creative work.

When I was in college, my major was writing. I had always loved writing, especially fiction, but then I learned that I was also very good at art. I veered away from writing into art, and pursued mostly art, with little deviations back into fiction, and it felt like I was always in either "art mind" or "writing mind"; if I was working on one, I couldn't work on the other. Lately I've been thinking about what I get out of each. I will always have an artistic eye, and it will always satisfy me to make something that's visually *right,* but I feel the need to be more involved with ideas. Art can express ideas, yes. Words can do it better. Fiction is something that has kept me interested and made me happy since I was a four-year-old learning to read. Writing it is more of a challenge than art, and it offers the opportunity to do a different kind of thinking, and finding an artistic way to express ideas... it's what I want to do now. I've tried the other things that have interested me, and given them a chance, but I've learned that fiction still calls to me, and I still want to go to it.

Will I still paint? Probably, sometimes. I'm more likely to do a digital drawing than a painting, but I'm willing to bet that painting will always be a part of my life. I will probably tinker around with making jewelry, too. I feel vulnerable and exposed about saying that I'm committing to writing fiction consistently, because some of those who know me have heard me expressing enthusiasm about getting back into it before, but... this is different. I've learned about the need for practice, and I've been doing my (almost) daily writing practice for the last two months. That isn't a tremendously long time, yet, but the more I practice, the more I realize the *value* of consistent practice, and the satisfaction of it, something I never got before, when I could just as easily spend my time at doing something that came easily and provided immediate gratification, like art; now I'm looking for a more interesting challenge, which turns out to come from my first love, after all.

Soooo... yeah, I'd recommend this book. :)

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
roguebitch
May. 5th, 2007 11:44 am (UTC)

"Pen on Fire" is also a good book for helping a busy person find time to nurture their muse.

Stuff like that just makes me feel guilty that I'm not more committed to a process, though...
nayad
May. 5th, 2007 12:38 pm (UTC)
thanks! i could use some help with making the most of my time.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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