Finding your inner artist, day 22: About wasting too much time

Today’s quote:

How we spend our days is how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour and with that one, is what we are doing. ~ Annie Dillard

One of the main culprits that holds many artists back (in my opinion) is the lack of a structured day.

We don’t have “office hours” as such (stupid question: Why?). We often work when we feel like it, and we often don’t when we don’t.

If I discovered one thing over the years it’s that successful artists have structured days. They don’t waste time with watching TV when they could be working on their art and their business. They know their biorhythm pretty well, and they don’t necessarily work against it: If they know they are most creative in the late evening, nothing prevents them from sleeping until noon and working into the small hours. You can work the back- or night-shift, that’s not the point.

It is a very common thing for many artists I know however to postpone work on both their art and their business when something else (more enjoyable) comes up. Oh, the best friend just popped round for a coffee, work can wait. Oh, the weather is so nice, I take the day off. Oh, I’d rather watch a movie just now, sod it…

I am not saying that we shouldn’t grant ourselves time off, and I am also not saying that spontaneity doesn’t go a long way, especially in the creative business.

If you constantly spend your days idling, waiting for inspiration to strike or others to discover you, something isn’t right however. So the next time you find yourself browsing Facebook instead of working the hours you put in your diary, remember Dillard’s quote: It’s what you’re doing.

How you spend your day is how you spend your life…

© Petra Raspel 2013


Finding your inner artist, day 19: About not constantly judging and projecting

Today’s quote:

The lessons you are meant to learn are in your work. To see them, you need only look at the work clearly — without judgment, without need or fear, without wishes or hopes. Without emotional expectations. Ask your work what it needs, not what you need. Then set aside your fears and listen, the way a good parent listens to a child.  (from “Art and Fear” by David Bayles and Ted Orland).

Art & Fear

Art & Fear (Photo credit: alternatePhotography)

Another quote you can understand in many ways…

There’s this singer, let’s call her Charlotte. Charlotte has huge natural talent, but she also has a lot to learn from a technical point of view. So I recommend she records her lessons to monitor her progress. She blocks. “I cannot stand listening to myself”. “Why is that?” I ask. “Because I hear all the mistakes”.

This is not unusual at all. There was a time when I didn’t particularly enjoy listening to my voice, despite other people telling me it sounded good. I could only hear the mistakes, never the good things. Like Charlotte, I had this “zooming in on mistakes” mentality, no matter if 95% of the song sounded great. Can you imagine the frustration if those 5% are all you are able to take in?

It took me years to learn to listen to my singing (sort of) objectively. Without “need or fear” for things to go perfectly, or hitting a bum note; “without wishes or hopes” that this recording would finally be the one without a single mistake. I needed to let go of projecting, insecurities in other areas of life included, because nothing of this would help me to progress and grow – neither as an artist, nor as a person.

Once I learned to see it from that angle, and I just listened without judgement, I could also hear the good things. I could still hear what went wrong as well, but now it was fine.
“Mistakes” started to turn into a compass; through them, I could pinpoint what my art needed to get better. This wasn’t just technical work, even if I had very often thought so in the past:

Little adjustments in my daily “non-artist” life also helped to become a better singer, probably at least as much as working on my voice…

© Petra Raspel 2013

Finding your inner artist, day 18: About looking into the future

Today’s quote:

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. (…) Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Walso Emerson

Ralph Walso Emerson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People often ask me about the difference between personal coaching and counselling.

Coaches help their clients “to take stock”/evaluate the present, to then set and achieve goals. This means looking into the future. We might brush on problems that have arisen in the past to understand why the client is holding on to certain beliefs, but ultimately, we let the past be the past, and the client has to leave it behind as well. If we suspect deeper problems that need addressing, we will suggest the client sees a counsellor, psychologist or psychotherapist. This is why our training also includes a fair amount of psychology, because obviously, we need to be able to spot these problems.

Artists need to allow themselves to be vulnerable, and often reach into the past for this (not all find this necessary, but a fair amount do). We need a different approach however when it comes to organising our daily lives and having a look at the business side of things. This is when past failures that are still too present in our minds can become a real stumbling block. You can learn from them, but ultimately, you need to let them go.

You set your goals, and you go for them with full commitment. That’s looking ahead, not back…

© Petra Raspel 2013

Finding your inner artist, day 16: About U-turns, detours and finally arriving where you need to be

Today’s quote:

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be. ~ Douglas Adams

douglas adams inspired “Hitch hikers guide to the galaxy” H2G2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was a teenager, I just wanted to be a performing musician.

When I finally was a performing musician, I stopped enjoying it. This wasn’t down to the “musician-part” however – I still absolutely love music, singing, composing. It was down to the “performance-part”, and the industry connected to it. I just got this sense of: “This isn’t really me”, and I couldn’t shake it.
So I did something else – I decided to teach singing and coach artists. And I am glad I made that decision, despite being nervous about it first. My 16-year-old-self wouldn’t have been very impressed though…

Life is not linear. You don’t need to stick with something that feels wrong, even if you thought it was right at some point.

You’re not a failure because you found out it isn’t for you.

You need to have the courage though to end it if it makes you unhappy. It’s like an unhappy relationship – you can decide to stay in that relationship, and maybe have the comfort of “better the devil you know”, financial security, whatever. And stay there, always wondering what could (have) be(en).

Or you can end it, get back on your feet again (even if it takes time) and finally have (and do) something that feels right…

© Petra Raspel 2013

Finding your inner artist, day 15: About empty pockets, empty heads and empty hearts

Today’s quote:

Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that. ~ Norman Vincent Peale

Norman Vincent Peale, Christian preacher and a...

Norman Vincent Peale, author of The Power of Positive Thinking (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And another writing challenge:

1. What have you invested into your art lately? Money, time, energy – list everything. Do you feel you can only be creative if you spend money, be it on equipment, workshops, lessons? Or does it work without spending money?

2. How important is it for you to make money with your art? Do you need to be able to earn a living with it? Would you stop being creative if you didn’t?

BALANCE: What are your options? If you feel you don’t have any, what are you doing about it?

© Petra Raspel 2013