How To Be a Perfect Artist

perfectionism, artist, creative, stagnate, procrastinate,

perfectionism, artist, creative, stagnate, procrastinate, You might be a perfectionist if you clicked on this article because of the title.

While loss of interest is one major reason for procrastination, perfectionism is also a huge show stopper for many creatives.  You feel like anything less than the best is not worthy of being displayed.  Nothing short of the finished products will be accepted by the public.

Perfectionism is a cruel enemy of the creative mind.  It says, “You will never be good enough.  Keep trying.  No one will like it.  Are you sure you want to be known for that??  It’s too rough.”

What ends up happening to you because of a perfectionist mindset, is you polish and polish and polish until there is only a vague idea of what the original looked like.  Like rubbing the face off a penny.  For the perfectionist, there are no rough drafts, no version 1.0, no rough sketch, no outlines, no doodles or ditties. There are only masterpieces, number 1 hits, and best-sellers.

Except there aren’t.  

Because a perfectionist doesn’t stop editing long enough to publish.  Or they procrastinate or lose interest in a project because they can’t get it perfect.  Or they never start in the first place for fear of not being able to conquer the task in its entirety.

Or, if by chance if they’ve finally polished enough, there’s nothing left of the art to resonate with an audience and the work flops.

Some creatives hold on to perfectionism as if it’s a heavy cross to bear.  They appear humble and contrite and want others to believe it’s a burden to be a perfectionist.  But, perfectionism isn’t a sign of humility.  It’s a sign of egotism.

You’re worried about what others will think of you.  How it will affect their view of you.  You’re concerned about your reputation as a painter, singer, writer, playwright, dancer.  You don’t want to look like you’re still learning.  You worry someone will find your work mediocre and dismiss you as an artist.  It’s all about you.

The wonderful thing about art is that it stands alone.  It is a free expression of things that can’t be expressed otherwise.  There are no right or wrong ways to create art.  There may be techniques and styles, but there are no laws in art.

Your art may not appeal to everyone.  That’s good.  If you create something for everyone, then it’s really for no one.  People are different.  They have different backgrounds, different dreams, different struggles.  Your art will resonate with those who believe, feel, and dream like you. If you let it.

If you struggle with perfectionism, you have to do something to break that habit or it will stagnate your creative mind.  What are some things that you’ve been wanting to do, but haven’t for fear of not doing it right or well initially?  What about karaoke?  Periscope? Online teaching? Acting?  You’ll never know if you’re could be good at it if you don’t try.

Nothing is perfect.  And art should never be perfect. It should be real.  Why not let the brush take the next stroke and stop trying to force your ideas onto the canvas?

Try these exercises to overcome perfectionism.  Some are not permanent and so there is no pressure to perform.  Others, consider publishing somewhere as rough drafts and get some feedback on it. You’ll be surprised.

  • Abstract art
  • Free form poetry
  • Random photography
  • Doodle
  • Draw in the sand
  • Record a demo
  • Film your first Scope
  • Publish the outline of your next book
  • Create a collage from pictures clipped from magazines
  • Decorate a cake

In what ways has perfectionism held you back or stagnated your creativity?  What are 3 things you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t because of your perfectionism?  I’d love to hear your comments!  I’ll go first.

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Beat Procrastination with Work That Matters – Words of Wisdom

work that matters, procrastination, motivation, complete, finish

work that matters, procrastination, motivation, complete, finish

Unfinished projects. It’s a common theme among creatives.  You have grand ideas, longing desires, spikes of energy, but often fail to finish.  Something comes up.  Doubt creeps in.  The enthusiasm leaves.  The project is left hanging in a state of limbo like so many others in your past.

We often blame our lack of drive on procrastination.  It’s a big word that seems to cover a multitude of inner struggles.  It also lets us off the hook mentally.  After all, some people are just born organized.  Some poor souls are procrastinators by nature.

Procrastination happens due to a variety of factors.  Being “born that way” isn’t one of them.  Most often, it’s a lack of motivation.  The reason to finish isn’t there anymore.  You’ve lost interest.  You don’t care about it as much as you told yourself.

When you don’t have a big enough reason to finish, you won’t.  Now, your reason may be different than someone else’s, but whatever gets you fired up and puts you in motion is reason enough.  Maybe it’s money.  Maybe it’s freedom.  Maybe it’s the thought of making a difference or becoming famous.  There is no right or wrong reason to be creative.  Whatever your motivation is, it’s yours.

However, you may talk yourself into a motivating reason that’s not right for you.  If you’ve tried to convince yourself that money is the reason you must work on a project, but really what you want is fulfilling work, money will never be enough to get you through to the end.

Don’t talk yourself into a reason that doesn’t ring true with you. Stay true to yourself.  No matter what.

We all have a boxes, files, or attics full of unfinished works.  Creative skeletons in our closet.  It wouldn’t hurt to go through them one more time and figure out why you put it down. What was the hang-up?  If you find a project just don’t resonate with you, let it go, find a new home for it, paint over it, or toss it out.

Don’t let unfinished projects make you feel guilty or take up space in your mind or studio anymore.  Work on the things that set you on fire and put you in motion.  Because that’s what you’re supposed to be doing anyway.

What sort of work sets you on fire and gives you enough motivation to finish?  What projects are you going to let go?  I’d love for you to share in the comments.


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Don’t Drown. Stand Up.

stand, overwhelm, forward, life, dreams

stand, overwhelm, forward, life, dreams Some people have a fear of water.  Just getting near water gives them anxiety.  They can’t swim and they fear drowning.

That’s a healthy fear, if you can’t swim.  And you’re in deep water.

If you’re jumping over a puddle or crossing a creek or wading in a kiddie pool, the fear is unnecessary.  While it’s true that a person can drown in a small amount of water, it’s impossible to drown as long as your head remains above the water.  Water can only enter your lungs through your nose and mouth.

Life can be overwhelmingly heavy.  We get bogged down with schedules, responsibilities, expectations, chores, jobs, and side-hustles. Not to mention people, politics, money, relationships, and emotions. That’s a lot to lay on one person’s shoulders.  Yet every one of us have these loads to carry.

We have our individual ways of carrying our loads.  Some like to carry it in their arms so they can keep their hands on everything all at once.  They want to feel in control of everything but often feel out of control while they juggle it all at once.

Others will sling their loads on their backs so they can stay focused on moving forward.  The projects aren’t managed the best (Out of sight, out of mind.) but they get where they want to be.

And some are forever dropping their load or trying to get someone else to take responsibility for it.  They don’t want to be bothered with carrying it at all.  They feel it’s their right to be free of their responsibilities.

We all get to carry the same loads. It’s our responsibility as human beings.  Yes, it gets heavy sometimes and you have to take a break.  That’s fine. But don’t sit down.  Sitting down is called giving up. 

Most adults can stand in a 4-foot pool and be completely safe from the possibility of drowning.  But if you decide to sit down, that’s when the danger happens.  Suddenly, the amount of water that was safe is now overwhelming.

The difference between standing and sitting in life is a change of mind.  Just one decision.  But the effects of that decision have critical consequences.

While sitting down might seem restful, it puts you in danger.  Your head goes underwater and your ability to get to dry land disappears.  Your decision to fold your legs takes away your hope of survival.

Don’t give up on life.  Don’t give up on your dreams.  Don’t sit down no matter how overwhelmed you feel.  Don’t drown when you can make the one decision to stand up.  

If you feel like your drowning, check your position.  Are you taking life standing up or sitting down?  Stand up.  Put one leg in front of the other and keep moving forward.  You’re going to make it.

Are you struggling to stay standing?  How do you cope when your load gets heavy?  You can share your responses here. 

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When You’re In The Desert, Make Sandcastles

dry, spell, creative, art, juice, sandcastles, idea, flow

dry, spell, creative, art, juice, sandcastles, idea, flowSchool is back in session in my house.  

Homeschooling is more than just safety and shelter for us.  It’s about teaching my children to use their creative abilities to learn and process the world around them.  We use very little out-of-the-box curriculum.  Instead, we choose from a variety of sources from which to learn.  We spend a lot of time learning together.  We read, write, travel, engage, and discuss.  It’s a lot of fun, and a lot of work.

This is my first year homeschooling a high-school student.  The game plan is the same but the stakes just got higher.  Working up subject goals, scheduling field trips, answering questions, grading papers, and tracking progress uses up a lot of my creative time and energy.  Some days, after the school books are put away, I feel drained.

I often sit with my laptop open and stare at the screen.  Trying to squeeze one last drop of creative juice out of my brain.  It’s a struggle.  I feel dried up.  Like the flow of inspiration has run out and the ground is cracked and dry.

Perhaps you feel the same way after spending all day at work or in classes, you come home with your reserves empty.  You give your best to someone else and then fight to come up with something original for yourself.

Instead of waiting for the rain to fall and some new idea strike you, just work with what you’ve got.  Art can still be made from the driest of places.

Here are some ways to get the ideas flowing again in a creative desert.

  1. Re-hash some old ideas.
  2. Consider ways to improve some previous projects.
  3. Start a gratitude list of things that you’re thankful for.
  4. Jot down some notes from a book that changed your life.
  5. Read some quotes.
  6. Draw Whinnie the Pooh or some other cartoon character.
  7. Create blackout poetry.
  8. Teach someone a portion of what you do.
  9. Clean your creative space.
  10. Take yourself on an artist’s date.

There’s no use getting frustrated over the creative dry spells.  In fact, frustration with yourself only makes it worse.  Instead, enjoy and appreciate your past successes and let your inner artist take a break.

Life is hard.  We can’t always have the best in life, but we can make the best of life. When things go sour, make lemonade.  When things go dry, make sandcastles.

What things in your life are creatively draining?  How can you give your inner artist a break?  Share your ideas here. 

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You Don’t Need the Want-To, You Just Need the Right Reason

reason, goal, dream, motivation, marathon

reason, goal, dream, motivation, marathonYou’ve heard it, I’m sure.  Someone comes along and tries to motivate you by pumping up your enthusiasm to do the work quicker and more effectively.  “You gotta have the want-to,” they say.  “You need to be motivated, turned on, set on fire.”

Motivation is good.  Enthusiasm is helpful. But it’s not everything and it often grows cold. It’s hard to stay excited when things aren’t going well.  It’s hard to be enthusiastic if you’re having a really bad day or just not feeling well.

Motivation is the nitro in your engine.  The espresso shot in your coffee.  The supercharge that moves you.  It’s great when you have some.  It feels incredible.  But it doesn’t make more creative.  And it doesn’t prepare you for the long road ahead.

If the guy’s an idiot and you motivate him, now you’ve got a motivated idiot. – Jim Rohn

Going after something meaningful is like running a marathon. The process isn’t all fun and games.  There are weeks of training.  Miles of ground you cover that nobody counts. Rainy days. Hot days. Muscle aches. Joint pains. Blisters. Sweat.

Sure, there are some great runs when you feel like you’re on top of your game, but that’s not enough to motivate you do it again tomorrow.  Tomorrow’s another day, with it’s own set of hurdles, weather patterns, and other surprises.

So, if it’s not motivation, what is it that pushes a runner to complete a marathon?  

It’s not the destination either.  It’s not like the finish line is in the garden of Eden or Paradise Island.  It’s just a ribbon down the street.  Probably a street you’ve already been down before. There’s nothing special there that’s going to make you feel like you’ve finally arrived.

It’s not even the journey or process of getting there. Although there are plenty of lessons to learn along the way.  Those lessons are actually more important that the destination itself. But no one runs a marathon to take in the scenery.  Towards the last few miles, you’re not even aware of anything outside of your breathing and footfalls.

The reason we run marathons, chase dreams, and set goals is to press ourselves to become more.  More of ourselves.  A bigger, clearer version of who you are inside. It unlocks the potential in you. In becoming more, you give yourself a higher spring board to the next big possibility.

After you’ve run the last mile and crossed that finish line, you are now a victor. A winner. A finisher. You are someone who sets their mind to something and completes it. You now have the “been there, done that” t-shirt. There were witnesses and celebrations.

And then the question.  What next?

You have gained skills and work habits and relationships and training hacks that will help propel you to the next big thing.   Your reason for completing a big audacious goal is the next big audacious goal.  The goals are the stepping stones to the best version of yourself.   That best version of yourself.  The strong, healthy, creative, happy, rested, peaceful, fulfilled version of you.

Want to meet that person?  Put in the hours, motivated or not, and get another step closer to an introduction.

What does the best version of you look like?  What are you doing to get there?  Leave your comment here. 

If you’d like to fuel your motivation, join my email list for some monthly inspiration direct to your inbox. 

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Schedule Some Awesome In Your Day

time management, schedule, discipline, yoga, multi-task, mono-task, work, focus

time management, schedule, discipline, yoga, multi-task, mono-task, work, focusTime is something that no one has enough of.  I’ve found myself, daily, lamenting the lack of time to get everything done on my  to-do list.  Between family, work, projects, school, events, and household chores, it seems I just get further behind.

People have many modes of operation when it comes to using there time.  Here are just a few variations I’ve witnessed recently.

Squirrels – There are some people who are busy all the time.  It seems like they run in circles, always in a rush and never really getting anywhere.

Loafers – There are others who focus on the wrong things and the important items get left undone.  Those unfinished tasks build up into catastrophe.  Read this article on putting the big rocks first.

Sergeants – Then there are some highly efficient people who get stuff done.  No frills.  No excuses.  No sense waiting around when it can be done now.

Creatives – Finally, there are highly motivated people who write out the most sophisticated schedules in elegant planners and then spend all there time creating little beauties, dreaming grand schemes, and admiring the works of others.

Oh, boy. 

Confession: I totally binge crocheted for at least 3-4 hours a day for the last 3 days.  My blog post was late today.  The things I wanted to do last Monday, haven’t been done yet. I have some super cute dolls to list in my Etsy store.

It doesn’t take a genius to see it’s not a time management thing.  Time doesn’t have to be managed.  You can’t tell the clock when it can strike the hours.  You can’t hold off 3 o’clock just because you’re not done with 2 o’clock yet.  Time ticks along without any help.  Just like always.

You don’t manage your time.  You manage yourself.  Ouch.

It’s not easy.  Let me just say that first.  I like to relax.  I don’t like to be rushed.  I want the events of my day to be evenly spaced out.  I also need my days to be balanced between stress and social interaction vs. quiet and solo projects.  My introvert battery has to stay charged. 

Keeping that balance is where it gets tricky.

So to help me and to help you, I’ve found some ideas to try.

1. Mono-task.
I learned this from yoga practice.  Focus on one thing at a time.  Start it, complete it.  Then move on.  Yoga does a lot with balance.  You have to stay focused or else you fall over. You breathe easy and deep and keep your mind focused on maintaining your balance.

Multi-tasking only keeps you from doing your best work because you can’t devote all of your mind and efforts to one thing.  Mono-tasking will get the job done, and get it done in a timely manner.  Big projects don’t have to be completed all at once, but block off time to work on it.  Then focus on that one project for that specific block of time.

2. Use a simple to-do list.
Grand schedules and beautiful planners only make you feel like a failure when you can’t keep up.  I just started using an app called Todoist to keep track of my tasks.  I’ve only scratched the surface of what it can do, but my favorite thing is that it’s so easy to move your tasks from day to day.  I can move things that just didn’t get done today to tomorrow or another day in the week.  It stays on my list and doesn’t get forgotten.

3. Breathe easy.
Being in a rush is the quickest way to get behind.  Whatever you are currently working on, let yourself focus on just that.  The rest of the things will still be there when you’re done with your project.  There’s no use wasting worry or anxiety on it when that emotional steam could be fueling your best work that very moment.

4. Create a space.
Yoga happens on the mat.  Most yogis will tell you that the hardest thing about yoga is getting on the mat.  It’s getting yourself to the place where the work can take place.  That’s called discipline.  Yes, I said the nasty D-word. Unrolling that mat gets your mind prepared to focus and body ready to work.

Having a space to do the work you need to do will help you mentally prepare to get stuff done.  It doesn’t have to be an office downtown or even a spare room in your house.  It could be a comfy corner of the couch or a nook with your tools in it.  Just have a space where you can work.

So, I’m obviously no guru.  I’m trying to get myself in shape and my life in order just like you.  Feel free to share with me some “time-management” ideas or personal disciplines you use to keep up with life here in the comments.

If you want to get some more tips and inspiration in your inbox then join my email list!  I look forward to writing to my email friends every month.

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4 Reasons Why Taking a Break Will Make You More Productive

Productivity, rest, relax, recharge, reflect, resetSleepless Superheroes

Have you noticed that we revere and applaud people who are continually busy?  We pride ourselves on how little down time we have.  We brag over the hours of over time we worked or how little we slept.  Like being too busy to sleep or relax is something to be cheered and dark circles under your eyes are a badge of honor.

Have you ever heard someone say, If you want a task done, give it to a busy person?  We say this because it’s easy to spot the people that get stuff done.  They are proactive with their life.  They are always in forward motion.  They are intentional about not spinning their wheels or stagnating.  What you don’t realize, is that the people that are the most productive are also intentional about rest.  It’s part of the plan of success.

More Rest = More Productivity

While productivity is the goal, neglecting our need for rest is a big inhibitor.  When you accept your need for some down time, you’ll gain strength, clarity, and focus for what you need to do next.

Resting may mean getting enough sleep at night.  Or it might mean taking an afternoon nap.  For some people, like me, it means having time alone.  Time without expectations and drama.  It might even mean a few days away.

There are four main reasons why rest is so important.  If you’re someone who feels caught in the rat wheel, always running but never seeming to get anywhere, maybe you need to take a close look at this case for rest.

Fatigue is the common enemy of us all – so slow down, rest up, replenish and refill. – Jeffrey Holland

1. Recharge

Our bodies need sleep. Period.  Some of us need more sleep than others but everyone needs enough to recharge.  Without enough sleep, you aren’t working at full capacity.  You may still be working but your productivity and efficiency will be way down.

According to, fatigue can result in impaired reaction time, judgment and vision.  You will have problems processing information and experience short-term memory loss.  Having too little rest will cause a decrease in your performance, vigilance and your motivation.  Also, you can lose control of your emotions and become moody or overly aggressive.

Without rest, you may still be moving, but it’s harder to maintain focus and keep your priorities in balance.  And it gets harder to remember why you’re working so hard.

2. Reflect

It’s important to set aside time for reflection.  You might take a few minutes every day to journal.  Maybe you set aside a few hours a week or a day every month to go over your progress.  Some people are able to take a month long sabbatical every year to unwind, relax, and reflect.

Reflection helps you prioritize your life.  When you take the time to go over the day, week, month or year, you have the ability to see what worked well and what didn’t work well.  You can get a clear understanding of where your efforts were in vain and where they were the most productive.  In this way, you can eliminate the unproductive habits or activities and focus your energies in the best things that will continue to give you the momentum to reach your goals.

3. Relax

Take a break.  Remember that you are an essential human being who needs to be cared for.  Not only your body, but your mind and soul too.  All your running and doing and working doesn’t amount to anything if you lose sight of who you are in the process.

Gain some perspective in your life.  You aren’t holding the world up.  No matter what your age is, you’ve only been on the earth for a relatively few years.  The world was spinning before you got here and it will continue spinning whether or not you can keep up.  Do what is necessary.  Do what matters.  Remember where you’re going and why you’re going there.  Let the rest go.  You can’t do it all.  But you can do what matters.

4. Reset

Once you’ve gained some strength, clarity, and perspective, you can reset your goals.  Define what it is you want to accomplish and set in place a new plan to help you get there.  The danger in not taking the time to rest is you might continue running full force down the wrong path.

There will always be something in life that will cause you to slow down.  Illness is the most common problem with people who don’t rest because of the bodies basic need to recoup.  And when you finally slow down and take stock of where you are, you may realize you’re far off course.

It’s better to reset your course on a regular basis than to wake up one day and find out you have to backpedal.  It’s discouraging to see how much time and energy you’ve wasted running in the wrong direction and know that you’ll have to spend more time and energy to get back on track.  Make a new course of action regularly, based on what you’ve learned in your times of rest.

The best six doctors anywhere and no one can deny it are sunshine, water, rest, air, exercise and diet. – Wayne Fields

Should you take a break?

Yes! And often.

Take care of your body by getting enough sleep.  Clarify what is working for you and what isn’t.  Focus your mind by keeping your life in perspective and remembering why you’re working so hard. Constantly revise your plans to keep you on track to reaching your goals.

How productive you are is a direct result of how rested you are.

What’s your favorite way to unwind and rest?  How often do you take time to recharge?  What are some things that you need to take a break from often?  Share your answer in the comments

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