Eric Maisel’s new book Making Your Creative Mark promises nine keys to achieving your artistic goals.
That’s a lie.
The book literally chimes and jingles with keys. The last eleven pages alone has 99 of them, for example these 10:
- One of the best ways to help yourself create every day is to craft a starting ritual that you begin to use regularly and routinely. When your ritual becomes habitual you will find yourself moving effortlessly from not creating to creating.
- Reframe discipline as devotion.
- Creativity is your teacher. Pick a creative project whose express purpose is to teach you something about your situation or your nature.
- If you regularly block, what do you think are the sources of your blockage? Do you block only on certain work? Do you block at certain points in the process? Do you block at certain times of the year? Become your own expert on blockage!
- Learn some anxiety management techniques. Anxiety makes us undisciplined. Learn a deep-breathing technique or a relaxation technique to help you stay put. Anxiety is part of the process – learn how to manage it!
- Don’t shrug away the fact that you’re not completing your creative work. Get to the last sentence of the last page of the last revision. Then launch your piece into the marketplace. If you are not completing projects, do not accept that from yourself!
- Do you have a plan to survive the countless rejections that will come your way? Create that plan!
- Create everywhere. Create in the rain. Create buy the side of the road. Create wherever you find yourself!
- Say, “I will astonish myself.” Then you’re bound to astonish others.
- There may be days when the work frustrates you horribly. Maybe you’ll downright hate it. Those are the days to love your work! Remember to love your work especially on the days you hate it.
And it goes on and on. The thing is that it goes on and on in that vein – the vast majority of his ideas are just really good, and not something you’ve already heard over and over again. Take what he says on anxiety. He devotes a whole chapter to stress and anxiety as it relates to the creative process. In it is a subchapter on The Stress of Marketing Art. Isn’t every creative person familiar with that? When I worked at the Alliance for Arts and Culture, advising artists on how to make money without going crazy, that was a topic we talked about a lot (kudos here to Judi Piggott, the patron saint of Vancouver artists, who invented and ran that program for twelve years). So what are the parts of that stress?
- Thinking about selling your art
- Not knowing what to say
- Dealing with people who hold the power and the purse strings
- Feeling pressured to “sell yourself”
- Dealing with people who dismiss you
- Not feeling up to asking
Does any of this feel familiar? Of course. And you may not even be an artist. And over and over he says, if this creates anxiety for you, go and find a way to deal with the anxiety. Don’t give in to it. That in itself is a pretty uplifting message. Maisel doesn’t give you tons of ways to deal with the anxiety; instead he points to one of his other books, such as Mastering Creative Anxiety. Oh yes, he knows how to sell his own stuff, so he knows what he’s talking about. And he has a lot of stuff – almost 40 books, seven of them fiction. And some meditation decks. And a home study course. And he’s a coach and a therapist with a PhD.
Honestly, I think every creative person should own at least one of his books. This man knows what he’s talking about.