What’s on your Plate?: 3 keys to a healthy creative lifestyle

Being a fulfilled artist requires a specialized mental and spiritual diet

Remember when you were a child at the dinner table?

If you had a mother, grandmother or aunt who was old-school, you likely heard these words when you were trying to avoid eating your vegetables – “Finish what’s on your plate.”
In their eyes, not eating your entire meal meant you weren’t getting all the nutrition you needed. It was their way  of ensuring we would continue to be healthy and happy.

Fast forward into our adult lives, and someone who’s busy will often say,  “There’s a lot on my plate.”

That’s probably true about you.  Ideas, projects, family and work responsibilities, marketing and branding yourself, planning for the future – it feels like there’s no way you can finish it all. Your plate is full and your first impulse to push it away and run from the table.
But some items on your plate must be finished no matter what – the vegetables of the creative life, you might call them. Dedicating time to connect with God daily. Being a good spouse, family member and friend. Doing your best creative work.

Here’s the catch – when we were small, our parents and guardians fixed our plates for us. Now, we determine what’s on the menu.

Is a paycheck a prison for artists?

The debate on artists who are employed in other occupations requires a different perspective

“A paycheck is the bribe they give you to give up on your dreams.”

This phrase has been circulating in social media circles recently, and the implication is clear. According to this mindset, those that work for a traditional company with a salary are less likely to explore other options, like being self-employed or attempting to do something more rewarding with their lives.

But is this a true assumption?

Do people who maintain a traditional job sacrifice their dreams simply by being employed?

Seeds of Success: Why creatives must keep cultivating ideas

A personal reminder to artists to stay positive when things aren't growing fast

People who have a talent for growing plants are said to have a ‘green thumb’. If so, my thumbs are the total opposite of green, whatever that is.

Anything I try to grow is doomed to a early demise. I remember with embarrassment when we bought Chia pets for our children, and even those tiny ceramic heads, which only require a little sprinkle of water and sunlight, failed to produce any greenery for our kitchen.

Clearly God was gracious in not making me a farmer.

This is why I’m amazed when I look at at the fresh fruits and vegetables in the produce section of grocery stores. The process of cultivating seeds to maturity,  harvesting the crops, and eventually getting that produce to my plate takes a lot more work than I’ll ever comprehend.
As creatives, we cultivate seeds as well, but in a different form. Our ideas, creative impulses, and visions are much bigger than the Chia pet variety. These seeds have the potential to give millions of people inspiration, encouragement and happiness. But if we see ourselves as ‘brown thumb’ creatives, we’ll never hang on until the harvest comes.

You may have had brown thumb thoughts as you’ve endured seasons where your creative seeds seem dormant. You may have become discouraged, decided that your ideas will never grow, and let the weeds of doubt overtake your artistic field.

Don’t let those negative ideas choke the life out of your creativity.

Keep planting. Keep watering. Keep putting your dreams in the sunlight where they have a chance to flourish.  It’s the only way to see your way to creative success.

You never know which seed will be the one that will feed a generation.

Share your thoughts: How do you avoid getting discouraged when your creative projects seem to be going nowhere? Share your comments below. 

The Applause Addiction: How Audiences Affect Artistry [Encore Post]

The most common addiction for artists isn't for alcohol or drugs - it's for approval.

We pursue them.

We spend lots of time planning for them.

We work hard to make them happy.

They sometimes love us and sometimes don’t. They are our biggest supporters or our toughest critics. They might watch us intently, or they might totally ignore us.

These statements might apply to our family members or spouses. But in this case, we’re talking about artists and our audiences.

While some musicians might enjoy playing in solitude, there’s no substitute for the affirmation that comes from the applause and attention of an audience.  Their support is the backbone of our success. Without people in the seats, there’s very little chance of sustaining a career.concert_crowd_2

However, we also have to acknowledge that audiences can be fickle. What one crowd loves may be totally rejected by another.  That’s not a good feeling for any performer. Some of us respond by changing our style solely for the purpose of getting the audience’s approval. If we aren’t careful, we can become addicted to applause.

The answer to this addiction? Be yourself.

It’s perfectly normal to adjust your performance for your audience. Performing for a group of people is a privilege and we should do our best to meet their expectations.

However, seasoned artists know that every performance won’t be enjoyed by everybody, and they don’t get discouraged when their music falls on deaf ears. Neither do they constantly change their artistic vision to appease the masses. A true artist knows that if they are dedicated to excellence in their craft, the people who appreciate their work will eventually find them.

Applause sounds best when it’s in response to authenticity.

How to promote without being prideful

Being a confident creative requires a proper perspective about humility

“We’re number one!”

“No one else comes close!”

“You won’t find anything better!”

Simply turn on your television or surf the internet for a few seconds, and a commercial will pop up, claiming that a certain product or service is the best thing ever. That’s the standard method of promotion – trying to convince a customer that what you’re selling is better than anything else in the market.

However, every once in a while, a company will take the opposite approach.  One famous example is the insurance company with the “name your price tool.”  Their commercials often mention that their rates are not always the lowest in the industry.

However, the entire point of these ads are to convince you to trust this company. While saying they’re not always the best, they actually want you to believe they are the best.

And that’s how many artists end up trying to handle promotion. We know we’re supposed to strive to be the best – but we’re not supposed to say so. 
This is why some creatives feel awkward when it comes to attracting attention. Some of us have been taught that being humble means keeping our talents to ourselves; that trying to be the best means diminishing others. Worse, some artists actively try to bring other artists down in hopes of making themselves look better.

Is is possible to  promote our work without a prideful spirit? Yes, if we have the right mindset.
Take Jesus’ example. For most of his childhood and young adult life, he avoided the spotlight. But when it was time to share his message, Jesus chose the most accessible and visible places. He went to where the people were, and he told them to let their light shine. His purpose was not to bring glory to himself, but to give others permission to use their own gifts to glorify God and to bless others.
Letting your light shine, in other words, isn’t about being selfish. It’s about serving others. It’s not about competing with others; it’s about competing with yourself and becoming a better artist everyday.
Your excellence and your abilities should advertise themselves – as Proverbs says, it’s best to let someone else praise you – but you also should have a Godly confidence in your craft and sharing your gifts.

Your ultimate goal is not to promote yourself above others.

Your ultimate goal is to offer a glimpse of the Creator who is above everything.

Share your thoughts: Have you ever felt awkward while trying to promote your career? If so, how did you handle it? You can leave a comment by clicking here.