The Project Driven Artistic Life

Aaron Shumaker via Compfight

I can remember where I was when I realized I was a project-driven artist.

My wife and I were having dinner at a local pub-estaurant we love and I was talking about how my day job as a corporate sales trainer was good, but not artistically fulfilling. Sure, I was thankful for the job, the pay and the people I worked with and the trainees I’d helped, but a part of me was needed a little nurturing.

That part wasn’t being fed or watered. I felt it inside me grasping for breath.

My wife mentioned that she thought we were ‘project people’. That is, we like to birth an idea, cultivate it until it can stand on its own and then release it and move onto the next project. Sales training was the opposite of that concept and though I enjoyed several parts of the job, I wanted more.

I wanted to contribute more. I wanted to see the process through. And I wanted it for myself.

That last part…the ‘for myself’ was probably the most difficult to come to peace with for me.

“Why do I need to do something for me? Why am I so individualistic? Am I being selfish?” I thought. Continue reading “The Project Driven Artistic Life”

7 Things My 12-day-old Taught Me About Creativity

1. EnjoyIMG_2612

Relish each moment.

2. Listen

There’s beauty in each little sound.

3. Dream

Don’t despise the day of small beginnings.

4. Experiment

If something doesn’t work, try something else.

5. Simplify

Needs met = happiness all around.

6. Rest

Being is more important than doing. (Tweet it)

7. Laugh

Joy is always found…if we look for it.

She’s pure joy!

Feed your creative beast (and toss in a few coins for her college fund) by checking out Ten Commandments for Creatives on Amazon!

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Jack London to Creatives

I haven’t read any Jack London books, but recently I read an essay of his, and now I want to read more. I had to share a few morsels of goodness with my fellow creatives–I know you’ll enjoy them.

From Mr. London’s article “Getting into Print” was published in 1903 in The Editor. 110 years later and the wisdom proves itself timeless.


“Don’t loaf and invite inspiration; light out after it with a club, and if you don’t get it you will none the less get something that looks remarkably like it.”

Application: be ravenous. Always stay inspired. The minute we stop being inspired is the minute we stop inspiring ourselves and others.


“See that your pores are open and your digestion is good. That is, I am confident, the most important rule of all.”

Application: exercise and eat well to be at your maximum creative peak. Continue reading “Jack London to Creatives”

Vonnegut on Being Artistic

Two minutes of great inspiration from the late Vonnegut:

“Go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”

― Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

vonnegut risk creativity

As we create, make our work sustainable and grow into our next project, we get to enjoy the risk of being artistic.

  • We’re the gutsy ones who put our feelings, thoughts and philosophies out into a sometimes volatile space for others to adopt…or trample on.
  • We’re the rainmakers–taking the invisible and making it real. We put skin on dry bones and make them sing…and not everyone loves the song.
  • We’re the culture-shifters, seeing the future in the present…and that makes others uncomfortable.

The gift of your artistry cannot ever be separated from the risk of sharing it. (Share that on Twitter) Continue reading “Vonnegut on Being Artistic”

Degrading Other Creatives

Anti-Torture Vigil - Week 18
Justin Norman via Compfight
  • She’s a natural. 
  • Everything he does seems to turn to gold.
  • They have “the it” factor.

Slippery slope.

Attributing fellow artists’ accomplishments to anything but work ethic, desire to learn and dedication is a grave mistake for our own creativity.

Yet, it’s easy to fall into this dishonoring thinking pattern.

Would we think/speak this way with any other occupations or hobbies?

  • He’s a natural at building houses. He was born that way.
  • She just knows accounting. I don’t know how but she’s just got that “it factor’.
  • He’s so lucky at writing software and getting it to the market. 

Ridiculous, right? Then why do we sometimes think/speak this way about the work and success of our fellow creatives? Somehow it feels right (or good) for us to downplay the work of others and emphasize luck instead. Continue reading “Degrading Other Creatives”

Childish vs Childlike

When doing creative projects…

Childish: “no one ever helps me. Why doesn’t anyone want my dreams to come true.”

Childlike: “this could be a fun adventure. I hope I make a bunch of mistakes that’ll help me learn and make me a better artist.”

When you have to work a day job to fund your art/projects/fulfilling work…

Childish: “I’d be more creative if I didn’t have my day job. It really stifles me and takes all my time.”

Childlike: “I’m even more creative because I have a day job. I have to be more focused and use my time and resources to the fullest. Plus, I’m grateful to have my needs met. So thankful.”

When being forced to meet a deadline (even when you don’t feel in the ‘creative flow‘)… Continue reading “Childish vs Childlike”

The Plate Spinning Artist

As creatives, we lead project-driven lives. We are the plate-spinners. The task-jugglers. The multiple-hat-wearers.


Currently I’m…

  • Writing a new book with two other friends. I’d say we’re about 63.2% done. (more on that in the months to come!)
  • Launching two social media campaigns for my day job.
  • Learning to be a father…we’re due in about six weeks!
  • Maintaining social media content for one client (with weekly blogging).
  • Posting this blog post.

Lot’s of spinning plates, but if you’re reading this, you’re probably similar as a creative.

We love to see projects through to completion and get frustrated when we hover too long in one place without moving forward. We want we need momentum.

To help us move forward with our projects, I’ve stolen borrowed this stellar list from Robert D. Smith. Continue reading “The Plate Spinning Artist”

Living In Awe



The won’t-let-go-of-you hug.

Favorite things.

As I sit in the quiet of this morning, sharing my heart with a tiny, blinking cursor on a screen in a tiny, beautiful home before anyone else gets up, I am in awe. The rise and fall of my breath and warmth all around reminds me that I have everything I need…and more. Every single need met.


It’s refreshing and astounding how taking one moment at the beginning of the day causes gratitude and thankfulness to well up and spill into the rest of the day. Just by listing those three things at the top of this post, my mind and heart get emboldened, realizing I’m cared for by God and have nothing to worry about. Continue reading “Living In Awe”

The Dichotomy of Focus

As creatives, we’re tasked with the privilege of seeing our creative projects evolve in three basic stages: getting the initial idea, implementing the idea into our medium and then producing the finished work.

Along this path is the dichotomy of focus.

  • We must be open to change, but not get too distracted.
  • We embrace playfulness, yet need to be responsible.
  • We often create in solitude, but we need community and connection.
TodaysArt 2005 - Nederlands Dans Theater
Maurice via Compfight

The dichotomy of focus reminds me of ballet. As many of my acting gigs involved choreography, I wanted to learn the basics of movement, so I signed up for ballet classes.

The teacher would say seemingly incongruent instructions to help us learn the physical and mental demands of the artform.

Elongate. Tuck.

Push. Pull.

Relax. Tighten.

Such a dichotomy of terms that it seemed the teacher was schizophrenic, yet when she demonstrated we saw exactly what she meant.

What ballet taught me to do in all of my creative work was to enjoy several disciplines at once. As the term “focus” implies being intent on only one thing, it’s too narrow a word for our type of work.

I enjoy embracing the whole of the process rather than just a part.

How about you? How do you strike the balance?