Last month I visited friends who live on a wonderful piece of land in Black Mountain, NC. Jessica Klarp, a student of mine in the 90’s (stellar) is a former actor who now feeds her creative flare as a writer, a gardener, and community advocate. Julia Burr, Jessica’s partner, is a gifted sculptor of large iron pieces. These women have carved out a beautiful life, living intimately with and from the land, dedicating themselves to their art, shunning the glib and the glittery ephemera that keeps most of us distracted.
And as I watched them lovingly share their patch of the planet with me, I noticed some qualities that seem vital to living the creative life. They are not distracted. They do not rush. They are calm and grounded. And they are willing and happy to dedicate themselves daily to the work that has to be done in order for their art and their life to emerge.
I asked Julia how she constructs her days, since she works on commission and under no one’s time clock. She has a large studio with machines and blowtorches and all manner of found materials that she shapes into art. And she certainly has the necessary skills to construct her visions. But how, I wondered, does she actually discipline herself to get the work done? To follow through on her ideas while living in physical environment with so many lovely distractions?
“I treat it like a regular job. I get up at a certain time; I go to the studio at a certain time; I have a regular lunch break. It’s a job.”
We’ve heard this before, haven’t we? The creative life is not about waiting for inspiration to strike and then scurrying around to gather the necessary tools to begin to create. Photographer Chuck Close said, “Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work.”
And what is “the work”? It’s the daily practice of showing up, honing skills, embodying habits of mind like attention, focus, presence, and clarifying intentions (over and over). These are the actions that give you the best chance of creating your art.
So, are you doing your “work” in the world? Or are you ignoring it, postponing it, afraid of it? Is your creative life important enough to treat it like a job?
If you’re having trouble setting up a daily practice that allows your creativity to flourish, I would love to work with you individually or in small groups. A little bit of good coaching can go a long way toward finding your creative energy and focus.