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Never Too Late

The joke runs like this: Question: Do you know how old I will be by the time I learn to play the piano? Answer: The same age you’ll be if you don’t. I posted on Facebook recently that it was never too late to be a beginner. A flood of “likes” came back to me. […]


“Enough” Time

The hot, dry westerly winds are blowing through New Mexico. Along the highways, hundred-foot-high dust devils spin the hazy air. The heat creates an illusion: Time itself seems to be cooking in the hot summer air. Time is a primary concern in dealing with creative blocks. Most of us think, “If only I had more […]


We Do Not Outgrow Our Dreams

Most blocked creatives have an active addiction to anxiety. They play the game of “What if…” What if I commit creativity and it is ill-received? Note that this thinking indulges only in negative fantasy. It does not fantasize, “What if I commit creativity and it is well-received?” “I’ll look like a fool,” the beginning artist […]


Humility

When I am asked what is the biggest block to creativity, I find myself answering, “a lack of humility.” Dreams remain dreams, nothing more, when we insist on their being fulfilled instantly and perfectly. We measure ourselves against masters and we tell ourselves that we will never achieve our dreams. But masters began as beginners, […]


The Drought of Self-Doubt

It is important to remember, when we are suffering, that we are not alone. Every person experiences self-doubt at one time or another. In the throes of it, the prospects look dismal. We are in what feels like a drought, crawling forward, hoping for water, seeing nothing promising the horizon. If we give in to […]


Follow Your Bliss

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The late, great mythologist and teacher Joseph Campbell advised his students to “follow their bliss.” He told them to expect synchronicity, which he defined as “helping hands.” “Follow your bliss,” he taught, “and the Universe will open doors for you.” An octogenarian when he became famed as a teacher, he had decades of teaching experience […]


Perfectionism is the Ego’s Wicked Demand

Perfectionism is the enemy, not the friend of creativity. When we try to get something “right”— meaning perfect— we create a debilitating loop, as we focus only on fixing what we see as wrong and are blind to what is right. The perfectionist re-draws the chin line until there is a hole in the paper. […]


In the moment of creation, we are ageless

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In the moment of creation, we are ageless. We feel both young at heart and old and wise. “Artists work until the end,” my photographer friend Robert said to me yesterday. Yes, they do. This is why retirement from one career— even if it is our major career— is not, by any means, “the end.” […]


The Wish to be Original

The root of the word “original” is origin. We are the origin of our work. It is the ego’s demand that our work be totally original-— as if such a thing were possible. All work is influenced by other work. All people are influenced by other people. No man is an island and no piece […]


Enthusiasm over Discipline

“It must take so much discipline to be an artist,” we are often told by well-meaning people who are not artists but wish they were. What a temptation. What a seduction. They’re inviting us to preen before an admiring audience, to act out the image that is so heroic and Spartan– and false. As artists, […]