It's no news that your passionate creative work can take over your life.
Anyone who’s ever had a big dream, from being a famous actor to writing a bestseller, knows the feeling. You’re driven by a deep inner drive to achieve that dream at all costs.
But what does that really mean - “at all costs?” Are you willing to sacrifice intimate relationships, family harmony, and even your physical health?
Sadly, sometimes we feel like we don’t have a choice. We live by the identity that chose us: Singer. Actress. Drummer. Author.
It feels like, in order to do this Big Thing, we need to let all else fall by the wayside. We’ve been sold a bill of goods about “having it all,” but it soon becomes obvious that, without an onsite staff, it’s not easily done.
Fortunately, it’s really not necessary to give up your life in order to create. One of my writing clients, who joined my group program because she wanted to write about the work she does, shared this epiphany after several weeks of being guided to write her book:
“I can actually do this!” she told me. “I thought I had to somehow make myself into a writer - I had being an author up on a pedestal, far removed from who I am in my daily life.”
We think that we have to become a performer or a writer. We think we have to “do our time,” suffer for our art, and be a starving artist, in it for the long haul.
But we can actually integrate our art into our lives, even when the drive to succeed threatens to take over.
Your creative passion is not your entire identity. What you do is not the only thing you are. It's just one part of it.
Your muses don’t want you to give up the little pleasures of life. Rather than starving yourself, literally or figuratively, you can integrate your art into your life in a way that allows you to thrive.
My big passion in life is writing. But I have other creative endeavors that feed my soul, including playing percussion. I’m also a Mom. I belonged to a performance troupe for several years, when my teenagers were still at home. It was important to me to balance the various aspects of my life.
As our Vaudeville-style troupe began to get more gigs, I was careful to pick and choose which ones I would participate in. This approach got me some strange looks from my fellow performers. Not taking every single gig you can get? Weird, right?
Granted, performing wasn’t my primary creative passion. But even with writing, I’m determined to pace myself. Yes, there are certainly weeks when I’m burning the candle at both ends, pouring everything into a manuscript. But it’s not every week.
I swim, I do yoga, I play games with my family, I walk on the beach with my friends. The muses don’t get to steal my life away. I’m determined to live a joyful and balanced life.
No, you haven’t seen my books on the New York Times bestseller list - yet. I know I’ll get there. But I’ll do it on my terms, with a smile on my face, hand in hand with my muses.
So how can you have some of this blissful balance for yourself? Here are my top three tips for crafting a life of balanced creativity:
Learn to love who you are.
We’re most tempted to put too much into a particular passion when we’re not convinced of our basic worth. We’re trying to prove something to the world. When you learn to love yourself unconditionally, you create because it’s enjoyable. You do it because you love it, not in order to be loved. When you love yourself, you’re also less likely to ignore your body’s basic needs.
Set up a sacred container.
We creative types often rebel against structure, but I’ve learned to lean on it, instead. Having a daily calendar - I use a bullet journal, as it’s flexible and customizable - fosters balance. I set aside time for movement, healthy meals, and plenty of sleep. I make sure I schedule creative time, but also time to read and visit family members. Nope, I don’t always follow my schedule to the last detail, but having it as a guideline is invaluable.
The best thing I’ve done as I’ve built my life as a Thriving Artist is to find other creatives who are also devoted to living a balanced, healthy lifestyle. I have a lovely circle of creative sisters. We remind one another of what’s truly important in life. When one of us gets carried away by creative passion - in a way that is unsustainable - the others ask the right questions. We keep one another on track. We share the ups and downs. We encourage and support one another, in work and in life.
The thing is, you can have it all - but not one someone else’s timeline or in our celebrity-obsessed culture’s narrow mold. Did you know that those top-level celebrities do have an onsite staff helping them look put-together?
You can be a success in your chosen field, surfing the waves of your creative passion, and feel rested and well when you get up in the morning. It’s your life. You get to live it in a way that feels good.
You deserve to be a Thriving Artist.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.