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The Faith and Foibles of Strong-Willed Creatives

There’s a certain kind of artist and writer with a tremendously strong will ~ determined, persistent, ambitious, unable to deny the need for self-expression, even when it’s impractical or difficult.

I know. I’m one of them. And most of my clients are too.

As a will-driven artist or writer, you face a couple of problems.

  • You can live too much from your left brain, with its love of the rational and linear, and get cut off from your right-brained intuition and creativity. When you can’t enter flow regularly, you butt up against procrastination. Your art may be lacking dimensionality.
  • Your need for accomplishment makes it hard for you to relax and enjoy life, to fill your tank with Truth and Beauty. This problem can lead to burn-out, depression, or alienation from your muse. It can also manifest as lots of busyness on things you can control and check off, and avoidance of your creative work, which is more messy and unpredictable.

I became a creativity coach because I’ve been there.

Derailed by busyness, depression, and burn-out.

Spinning my wheels in procrastination.

And thanks in part to my stubbornness and unwillingness to settle, and the help of many wise people (including myself), I don’t live in that place any longer. (I visit occasionally, but then I find my way home to flow.)

I am a coach because my gratitude for what I’ve learned compels me to share with others in the same boat.

I’m in love with your creative desire and stick-to-itiveness. I want nothing more than to see you happy, healthy, and producing true and beautiful art with ease. I totally believe that is possible for you, given enough time and support.

Because you have particularly useful strengths, too.

  • You stick with your art. You may sometimes get discouraged by your limitations, but you don’t give up. You keep on wrestling the angel. You’re always getting better.
  • You search out the help you need to improve your craft and your creative process. You’re drawn to reading, exploring, wondering, How do people make this work? and then trying new approaches.

I invite you to Enter the Labyrinth.

For the past year, I’ve been offering short-term coaching packages of four sessions. Conventional wisdom says that packages like this are easier to market and sell. And much can be done in a focused, intense period of coaching. Some of my clients have had amazing breakthroughs in just one conversation.

What I’ve seen, however, is that packaging my offerings this way doesn’t serve clients who need longer-term coaching for wholesale changes, inside and out.

I know from my own experience that when I need support, my tendency is to get the minimum to keep me going, and then strike back out on my own. (What, my tank’s empty? Well, just give me five bucks’ worth, I don’t have time to fill the whole thing.)

When the moment comes and you decide that life is unworkable in its present form, don’t just patch things up and plunge back into the fray alone. Take the time to revamp thoroughly. Engage with your creative life in a deep, sustained way, and develop a strong rapport with your coach over time.

To that end, I’ve created Enter the Labyrinth.
Slow-release coaching for strong-willed creatives.

I’ll be honest, I’m making this change for myself too. I’d much rather work with a few clients over a longer period than many people for a short time. I get absorbed in my clients’ journeys and I want to see their progress. There’s a reason I’m a novelist rather than a short story writer ~ I cherish the long form, the immersive experience.

So. If you want to bring the two halves of your creative personality back into collaboration, come and Enter the Labyrinth.

{ 7 comments… add one }

  • Pat March 21, 2012, 3:39 am

    Dear Alison,

    Your piece about Walking Depression is absolutely excellent. You give so much back to the world and I think you’re an amazing human being 🙂

    One of my favourite jobs was with Canadian Mental Health and now the help for people suffering with something like depression is so limited. Yes, there was a stigma with being a patient in a mental health facility, but at least a person with schizophrenia for instance, was able to stay until recovered. Now I think this limit is 48 hours and you’re put out the door. However, I’ve never been a big fan of psychiatric drugs and that was part of the staying in a hospital package.

    Thanks again and keep up the good work!

    • Alison March 21, 2012, 12:19 pm

      Thank you, Pat! That means a lot to me.

      I would agree with you that not all people with depression are getting the help they need. My experience has mostly been with the milder end of the spectrum, i.e. not suicidal or in need of hospitalization, but with that chronic sadness that I describe in the walking depression post.

      I’m hoping the latest post, on 10 ways to walk away from depression, will point more people in the right direction. I agree that drugs are just one way out and not for everyone:


  • Mary May 5, 2014, 10:14 pm

    All I can really say right now is thank you for your writing. I am in a lot of pain right now and I just feel like I am being called deeper and deeper into it. I am quite young of body and far too concerned for the world and my fellow man than is good for my fragile self. All the love.

  • Connie Diane Phillips September 30, 2014, 11:15 am

    My world consists of wearing a cape for everybody. I had one of those roads that was extremely fast all the time. survival, decisions, friends, family questionable… but now and put in a situation where I can slow down and I’m not needed like that anymore. I used to write, so long

  • Connie Diane Phillips September 30, 2014, 11:26 am

    My world consists of wearing a cape for everybody. I had one of those roads that was extremely fast all the time. survival, decisions, friends, family questionable… but now I am put in a situation where I can slow down and I’m not needed like that anymore. I used to write, sing, poetry, paint, sketch, draw, dream, and read read read…I have not done these things in such a long time. I was/am child like…this was my one little piece of me that had not been corrupted or destroyed, I’m finding it harder and harder to protect her. I’m confused of what my existence means, I used to be so sure, my job was to be the touchable, creative muse that showed others that it was ok to believe in magic and hope. That life was not about money in the bank, perfection of family. Ect…but to be serious you have got to believe in Never land at least a little bit…maybe I’m not making sense. I know I’m still in there somewhere, I feel that sprite every once in a while trying to fly but I never can muster enough energy to ignore the words of others that pound me with the “grow up” and look at “reality” I have been on my own since I was 14 I know what reality is quite well…idk, you struck something in me that made me want to burst into tears, but even that would be childish, so I did not. Thank you though, I feel less insane and alone.

    Diane Aka Free

  • Elaine October 1, 2016, 5:41 pm

    I am experiencing some of these symptoms. As a 26 year old mother of one (age 7) life already has plenty of responsibilities. I work 40 – 50 hours per week as a general manager to a local family reataurant, have a 93 year old grandmother, and a permanently handicapped mother who was left as a quadriplegic following a stroke to care for. Much of my time is devoted to my family, and work leaving no time to focus on myself. I have a great boyfriend and some pretty awesome friends, but i never seem to enjoy anything. The only time i look forward to anything getting ready for bed. I often feel angry or upset for no reason. And frequently cry and get emotionl over small things. Lately i feel lile i serve no purspose and dont know how to handle it. I put up walls with everyone close to be and often want to be alone and have a fear of being in public. I never used to be this way. I was a happy and outgoing person. I want my life back.

  • Rose May 2, 2017, 4:19 am

    Being a strong willed single mum of 14 years – 2 children of my own, mortgage and run down house, 2 dogs and demanding job – I also decided to foster! ( only one child who was then 11) Having coped with breast cancer scare and then cervical cancer treatments and operations whilst still working along with knee operation in the following 10 years after. I then had an accident which rendered I could not work – and became depressed – anxious about going out and having panic attacks. It took a while receiving physio and plus now having remarried after 14 years and in the last year of my employment before the accident – being still size 8, vibrant plus felt much stronger managing to secure full time work position for nearly 5 years.
    Then we moved, house fire destroyed a lot including wedding photos, plus my husband was riddled with debt which I did not know at the time and now I had to become nurse and driver while he had multiple operations so I had to be strong whether I wanted to be or not. People had been so unkind in the previous years – we had moved due incredibly noisy neighbours having been settled and happy family for 20 plus years. They turned nasty and I lost some of my confidence. The law let us down. It also let us down with the house fire and losses for items we could not get back through insurance.
    My children have moved to the ends of the country – I do get to see them on occasion, but it is a lot of effort on our part travelling to them or organising events. It was tiring supporting them when they were in their 20’s when they were at home. However – with secession of jobs since the move where my female bosses have been nothing apart from bitchy or down right nasty – I have left employment as not wanted to listen to the faff and garbage that spews from their mouths – plus trying to put the painful short times behind me. I feel I am pretty much a recluse – I kinda like it that way – I dont enjoy going out paying for over inflated food restaurants and we dont have money to splash with me not working. I guess I am afraid of being hurt again. I am a polite and kind person and will help anyone I meet but fail to engage the people I meet. I had thought it was down to becoming invisible at 50! My husband has gone off the boil despite my efforts to keep a smile on my face, put dinner on the table, keep tidy and looking vibrant (new hair and new clothes) I have continued with gardening which I do find helps being outside. People have been very unkind over the years, my ex mother in law has always put others before me despite lifts and continued visits and trying to be a great ex daughter in law – my step daughter went back to her mother though no argument and she refused to make contact over 6 years ago at 14 years old. My sister in law who was a witness at our wedding cut us off and my elderly mother at 82 needs my help so I have no one to turn to.
    I would rather not be hurt again especially putting in all the hard work to be friends and make an effort which seems never to be reciprocated – redecorating spare rooms for my daughter to stay, new bed linen and duvets for her to decide to stay with a friend at the very last minute. I dont want to live in a bubble and aksed my husband to look at his part in out relationship as he rather do DIY every weekend rather than any spend time with me. Thing is – we dont row and we get on which is a bonus considering my first marriage where my ex husband spent most of his time beating me up! I dont feel worthless but I do feel this modern life is very hard, awkward and that I dont fit in. I dont Facebook plus not bitchy or spiteful person and I dont see why people ahve to be that way – although do feel those who have hurt me, been rude and cut me out should look at their own lives and hope what ‘goes around comes around’ to be honest I be happy not to see any of them that caused hurt & pain and been so spiteful.
    I want to find me under all the layers of peeling paint and paper, repair my own cracks and carve out some definition for my latter years – I certainly dont want to continue to be invisible or only the whipping boy for the remainder of my life – so what is there to do? Start again with folk or be a recluse and not get hurt? I find I am better in the evening and at nighttime rather than first thing but I have been that way since I was 14 – I have deffinately lent on alcohol although I have not been ill so I havent been able to go to work because of it. I am strong willed and dont see the need to be unkind, rude or use others, and I am not money orientated. I should have the good life but failing to find what makes me happy – everything seems to be a such a chore.

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