I recently received a review copy of Eric Maisel’s new book Making Your Creative Mark: Nine Keys to Achieving Your Artistic Goals and I wanted to share with my creative friends. Eric agreed to answer a few questions for me, so be sure to check out his mini-interview at the end of this post. (I also posted some thoughts on this book from a coaching point of view on my other blog.)
One of the things I absolutely loved about this book is that it’s not just full of interesting theory – there is lots of practical advice in it, too. Maisel offers several thinking/writing prompts – including a set of questions at the end of each chapter – to help you interact with the material and make it your own.
Maisel is the author of over 50 books and the father of Creativity Coaching. He understands the creative process – both professionally and personally – and he freely shares what he knows.
Divided into nine sections that Maisel calls “keys” (Mind, Confidence, Passion, Freedom, Stress, Empathy, Relationship, Identity, Societal), the book offers a complete guide for creative and performing artists. Maisel offers advice on dealing with marketplace issues, as well as identity issues, developing a creative practice, and dealing with stress and anxiety (and more!)
Because this book is written to appeal to most any creative, Maisel does not offer specific advice on approaching galleries, finding an agent, etc. Nor does he include information on social networking or creating marketing plans.
What he does talk about, however, more than makes up for what he doesn’t talk about. He goes into the importance of maintaining the right mindset, developing a daily practice, and the importance of the artistic identity. He even includes an “Artistic Plan” that summarizes the book’s content in an easy-to-understand guide that includes daily, monthly, and long-range planning ideas.
I read a lot of books on creativity and this is one of the best, most complete, guides I’ve read in a long time. Typical of the way I read books – I flew through it in about a day and a half. I can’t wait to work my way through it, writing out answers and making hard plans. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me!
As I said at the beginning, I’m thrilled that Eric agreed to answer a few questions for me.
EM: The challenges just don’t go away and there’s so much that needs to be said about how a creative person needs to manage his mind, upgrade his personality, manifest his potential, deal with his particular anxieties and stressors, accept his role in the marketplace, and more. I wanted to provide additional practical tips in all of these areas because each of these challenges can prove so daunting!
CJL: Is there one habit or practice that really makes a difference between getting your creative work done and not getting it done?
EM: Yes, it’s a morning creativity practice, the idea that you get directly to your creative work before your “real day” begins. Most people are too tired by the end of the day to get to their creative work; it’s much smarter to get to it first thing. That way you’ll get a lot of creative work done, you’ll be able to make use of your sleep thinking (the thinking you’ve been doing during the night), and you’ll have the experience of having made some meaning on that day first thing and your day will feel more meaningful. Those are a lot of good reasons to institute a morning creativity practice!
CJL: I know you’re interested in “meaning making.” Can you talk about creativity/art as a meaning making activity?
EM: Creating is one of a score or so of meaning opportunities available to human beings (others are relationships, service, activism, etc.). It isn’t the only way that a person can provoke the psychological experience of meaning but for a creative person it is one of her first choices in that regard. Once you realize that you are obliged to make the shift from seeking meaning or waiting for meaning to arrive to actively making meaning on a daily basis, it follows that you will try to decide what are the best ways for you to make that meaning. For a person with the desire to manifest her potential, use her imagination and her brains, and do something she’s probably loved from childhood, creating amounts to one of her prime meaning opportunities.