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An Art-Committed Life: The Xanadu You’re Looking For

Before I bring down the mood with too much talk of sucky unfriendly conditions for creativity, I want to give you a vision of their opposite ~ conditions that nourish and give ample space for writing and art-making.

Here’s how I would define an art-committed life:

Your life revolves around
your identity and work as an artist.

Imagine that:

Your best energy goes to your creative endeavours ~ you feel rested and raring to go whenever you enter the studio.

You have all the time you need to develop your ideas and improve your craft.

There’s room in your head to play with problems and find innovative ways to push your work forward.

You are crystal clear on what supports your art and what detracts from it ~ and you take action to cultivate the former and minimize the latter.

To paraphrase Rilke, “. . . what [you] do flows from [you] like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.”

Doesn’t that sound like the bees knees? Aren’t you salivating at the thought?

There’s more:

Your activities outside the studio (non-art stuff) both stimulate your imagination and keep you grounded in reality.

You know how to manage your moods and emotions so they foster rather than interfere with your art-making.

Money issues do not stand in the way of your creative work.

Your relationships are a source of inspiration, comfort and confidence.

To every one of you writers and artists out there reading this and aching for what I’ve just described:

This is the life I want for you.

Yes, it may sound like a mythical Xanadu.

But I’m here to tell you it’s real and within your reach.

Perhaps not overnight, but . . .

When your life revolves around your identity and work as an artist, you are on the trajectory to arrive at that Xanadu.

I have a way to take you an important early step on that trajectory.

Claim Your Artistic License: Give yourself permission for a lifetime commitment to art

I developed a class for all writers and artists who know that, for them, 15 minutes a day doesn’t cut it anymore.

You get instant access to Claim Your Artistic License when you sign up for my mailing list, so make sure you get on it!

P.S. The term “art-committed life” was coined by author and creativity coach Eric Maisel in his book Creativity for Life:

[An art-committed life] means that a person can spend a lifetime creating in a particular domain to which she decides to devote herself.

You want to be creative in a particular area because you feel love there, because you want to express yourself there, and perhaps because you consider it your most important meaning-making avenue.

I’m indebted to Dr. Maisel for putting words to the kind of life I’ve always wanted.


{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Abby Kerr March 14, 2011, 8:43 pm

    Alison —

    I’m so excited for Wednesday’s teleclass and will be there with bells on. Thanks for offering it!

  • N April 3, 2013, 6:10 am

    I am crying too much to write but will write later. Its like I finally heard a voice in a pitch black soundless room. Somebody sees. Somebody knows. I am not lazy or crazy.

    Well, (sniffing back tears and giggling a little) not lazy, because you do have to be crazy to be an artist.

  • Joseph August 2, 2016, 9:35 pm

    I sometimes get walking depression, definitely. But what if my situation is actually sort of the opposite? What if I’m depressed BECAUSE I’m a writer? Writing is so alienating and isolating for a variety of reasons. There’s the amount of time you have to spend alone, of course. But there’s also the fact that so few people read these days, there’s no real literary culture. So the more time you spend writing and focusing on literature, the less time you spend focusing on things that could help you relate to people – music, TV, movies, etc. Add a full time job and then you have basically NO time to do these things. I suppose the answer would be to reach out to other writers or go somewhere that has a literary scene (like NYC) but I’m skeptical of that. It seems like even if you do meet other writers, the chances that they’ll understand what you’re going for, have the same influences and same cultural reference points, is rather slim. So what should I do? Do I give up my dream, the thing that gives my life meaning? (Or at least, I think it does.)

  • KJ January 10, 2019, 4:32 pm

    I can relate to walking depression. I can’t relate to a life where “Money issues don’t stand in the way.” My reality is working a soul-sucking, energy-zapping, mind-numbing near-minimum wage job with no other prospects, not middle or upper class comfort. Money does stand in the way, often and in many ways, and the life described in this post is a nice fiction I could dream of if I wanted to frustrate myself even more. If I manage to create anything at all, it is within in the framework of the reality I live with.

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