How to Be a Thriving Artist

Earlier we took a look at our culture’s myth of the struggling artist. It’s caused many of us to put our creative aspirations on the back burner, or even in the back of the freezer.

Yep, I’m talking to you. Is there a creative pursuit – or maybe even two or three – that calls to your soul? Have you set your art aside?

There are many reasons you might offer for putting your creative dreams on hold: you don’t have time, your day job takes all of your energy, you don’t have the resources, you’re too busy raising a family, you doubt that you have enough talent or skill. The list goes on and on.

What if I told you that you can be creative, even in the midst of a busy life, and that your expanded creativity will enhance all aspects of your experience? It’s true, for me and many others.

Expressing your creativity will help you be happier, more centered, and more fulfilled. It also allows you to share your unique wisdom and stories with those seeking inspiration. You’ll be a role model for others who have repressed their creative side.

Plus, you can be a creative person without struggling endlessly or starving.

Here are some ways to become a Thriving Artist.

A note before we start: in this post I often refer to art and artists, and I want to make it clear that I intend these terms very inclusively. Your art might be writing, music, dancing, or painting, but it could also be knitting, carpentry, raising kids, writing computer programs, cooking, or any number of ways you express your innate creativity. No snobbery here. We are all creative.

Do it your way. Nothing damages your creativity more than trying to fit it into a box that someone else made. I’ve heard many, many stories about how someone’s natural affinity for art was quashed by a teacher, a casual critic, or even a fellow artist. There’s no “wrong” way to be creative. Let me say that again: there’s no “wrong” way to express your creativity.

Manage your expectations. So many people I talk to about writing a book are worried about the end of the process: What will readers think of my book? How will I have it published? What if it’s rejected? These are all useful questions, to some extent – but not at the very beginning of the process.

How can you thrive as an artist when there’s this much pressure on your creations? We recognize the absurdity of worrying about where your newborn child will go to college when she hasn’t even begun to hold her own head up. Why do we think it’s natural to treat our new creations that way? When you act as if your creativity is all about the end product, you’re putting a lot of pressure on the process. Relax.

Change your underlying beliefs. Most of us absorbed the beliefs of our culture, the ones that tell us that being a successful artist is extremely rare. Because of those beliefs, we often don’t feel that our art is good enough. We don’t think we deserve to reach our dreams or to enjoy creating. The good thing about this is that beliefs can be updated. By opening yourself to the idea of being a Thriving Artist, you’re already starting to shift them. When you feel fear or doubt about your abilities, acknowledge these feelings, and then create anyway.

Just begin. The best way to be a Thriving Artist is to create. Do something creative that feels fun. Don’t get caught up in doing it right, or what the end product will look like, or what other people might think. Put your focus on the process. Simply create, or practice, or whatever feels right to you in the moment.

When it stops being fun, you’ve had enough for now. Do it again in a couple of days.

Making the shift from struggling (or secret) artist to Thriving Artist doesn’t have to be hard. Don’t make it a Big Deal. Just get started, and see what unfolds.

Remember, creativity can be easy and fun.

Next time, we’ll talk about why we’re so addicted to struggle, and the value of embracing ease in our creative work – and life in general.


Tell me what you think!