I want to share something that I find absolutely inspiring. It’s a TED Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, on nurturing creativity. I know that it’s been around for a couple of years, so some of you may already be familiar with it. But, I think that the message she delivers about the creative expectations that artists place upon themselves (and that the world places upon them) is worth repeated viewings. In fact, I think it should be required viewing for anyone pursuing a career in the arts.

I’m going to let the video itself do most of the talking, especially since Ms. Gilbert puts it far more eloquently than I could hope to. But, let me say that I’m not sharing this just to inspire you – there’s a fundamental lesson to be learned here, especially if you want to keep the creative pipeline free of the messy build-up that can stop forward progress dead in its tracks. It’s important to nurture your creative process in a way that’s not fear-based – in other words, without anxiety over how good your work is or how others will respond to it. Such concerns are a surefire way to self-sabotage and will keep you from doing what matters most: showing up every day to do your job.

So, here’s an assignment for you. Regardless of where you are in your creative process or what you have going on in your life, whether today is a good day or bad day, and no matter what mood you happen to be in, I challenge you to see this through.

  1. Take 20 minutes of uninterrupted time within the next 24 hours to watch this video (even if you’ve already seen it – trust me, I’ve watched it more than a few times and it never loses its impact).
  2. Take notes as you watch. What lines/ideas resonate MOST with you based on where you are in your creative process right now?
  3. Come back here and tell me in the comments what you took away from the video. What was the most important thing you got from watching this?
  4. And, finally, what’s ONE thing you will commit to doing TODAY to do your job more fully? Whatever it is, I want you to do it. No excuses.

Because we believe wholeheartedly that nurturing your creativity is such a crucial part of artistic success, we’re going to make things interesting: out of everyone that completes the assignment and reports back here in the comments by 12pm EST on Thursday, November 10th, five people will be randomly selected to receive the Artists In Action Inner Balance package (valued at $77), so that you can continue working on what you start here. My hope is that this assignment is just the beginning, and that nurturing your creativity becomes a natural extension of your life.

Now, get out there and do your job!