“Eric Maisel has made a career out of helping artists, musicians, dancers, and writers cope with the traumas and troubles that are the price of admission to a creative life.” Intuition magazine
One of my favorite authors has just released a brand new book – and I am very pleased to be part of the blog tour that is introducing it! Making Your Creative Mark is the latest book by Eric Maisel, and it’s a must read for artists who are serious about creating a successful and fulfilling life in the arts.
This is the 13th book by Eric Maisel that I’ve read. Over the years, the insights I’ve discovered in his books have been an enormous help to me in learning how to honor my creative life and how to deal with the daunting challenges that every artist must navigate and negotiate on a daily basis.
In Making Your Creative Mark, Eric Maisel addresses nine issues of vital importance to anyone who creates or wants to create. In the book’s introduction he writes, “Most likely you know how often you stall, block, and give up. Most likely you understand that the art marketplace is a difficult place. Most likely you understand how often time gets away from you, how often you fret about whether what you’re attempting matters to anyone, including yourself, and how often your discipline eludes you. You can name the challenges. But what to do about them? Mastering the nine keys in this book will help you tremendously.”
Here is the first of a two-part interview with Eric Maisel about his new book, Making Your Creative Mark. Enjoy!
An Interview with Eric Maisel, Part 1
Why do you think someone would want to gamble everything on a life in the arts when it’s so hard to make it as an artist?
Human beings crave the psychological experience of meaning. We want that almost more than we want anything else. There are maybe a score of ways that human beings regularly generate that psychological experience: through service, through relationships, by excelling, by seizing new experiences – and by creating. Creating is one of our prime meaning opportunities and for many people the most important. Therefore folks who decide to devote themselves to an art discipline aren’t making some sort of calculation about risk versus reward. What they are doing is honoring their need to make their own meaning. If you look at a life in the arts as a smart career choice it doesn’t make that much sense; if you look at it as a tremendous meaning opportunity, it makes perfect sense.
You’ve organized the book around nine keys. Can you highlight one or two of them for us?
I start with the “mind key” because I believe that getting a grip on our thoughts and doing a better job of thinking thoughts that actually serve us are supremely important skills to master. Most people do a poor job of “minding their mind” and choosing to think in ways that serve them. It is a completely common practice for people to present themselves with thoughts that amount to self-sabotage and to refuse to dispute those thoughts once they arise. If people did a better job of “minding their mind” by noticing what they were thinking and by making an effort to replace defensive and unproductive thoughts with less defensive and more productive thoughts, they would live in less pain and they would give themselves a much better chance of living the life they dream of living. This is doubly true for artists who can doubt their talent, take criticism too seriously, find a hundred ways to avoid the hard working of creating, and more. There’s really nothing more important than getting a grip on your own thoughts!
You present what you call “the stress key.” What are some of your top tips for reducing the stress that a life in the arts produces?
Life produces stress, the artistic personality produces additional stress, creating produces even more stress, and living the artist’s life is the topper! An artist must learn how to deal with all of these stressors—and how to deal with them effectively. There are many tactics an artist can try—the key is actually trying some! You might try “writing your stress away.” Research reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that writing about stressful situations and experiences can reduce your stress levels – and can actually lead to improvements in immune functioning, fewer visits to the doctor, and an increased sense of well-being. You can reframe a given demand as an opportunity, turning your “stressful” upcoming gallery show into a golden opportunity. You can have a fruitful conversation with yourself and answer the following four questions: 1. What are my current stressors? 2. What unhealthy strategies am I currently employing to deal with these stressors? 3. What healthy strategies am I currently employing to deal with these stressors? 4. What new stress management strategies would I like to learn? An artist needs to honor the reality of stress and make plans for dealing with it!
- Eric Maisel is the author of Making Your Creative Mark and twenty other creativity titles. America’s foremost creativity coach, he is widely known as a creativity expert who coaches individuals and trains creativity coaches through workshops and keynotes nationally and internationally. He has blogs on the Huffington Post and Psychology Today and writes a column for Professional Artist Magazine. Visit him online at http://www.ericmaisel.com.