When people say they want to live ‘the writer’s life’, I suspect it’s a romanticized, abstract concept of what that means. My first book, Create Your Writer’s Life, was my effort to help people actually build a solid structure around writing so that the joy and satisfaction of writing infuses the rest of our lives.
Everyone’s ideal of their artist or writer life will be unique to them. You don’t have to run off to Paris or Bali to achieve your sense of living your writer or artist life. You can access this on a daily or weekly basis.
As I prepare for my upcoming two-month Paris trip, I’m thinking about this a lot. The focus of this trip is to live in Paris as an artist. That sounded a bit pretentious to me. So I challenged myself to go beyond the stereotypes to ask myself what I mean by ‘live as an artist’.
Going beyond the Hemingway/Picasso/Stein fantasy of sitting around in cafes gabbing with fellow artists all day, here’s what I came up with.
Flip the ratio of screen time and real-world time
The focus of my days will be on what I am making. When I am in the home office in Denver, my days are focused on working with my students and clients. I spend the bulk of my day in the office at my computer, and the remainder of my day in the studio or out capturing the WOW in my city.
Living the artist life in Paris means I will spend only a few hours a day online and the bulk of my days making art or exploring.
WAY: What about you? How could you tweak your screen time and real world ratio to feel more satisfaction as a writer or artist?
Shift the input
In the home office, much of the input I take in relates to being a better coach, businesswoman and writer. I seek support to develop better systems and ways to better serve my clients. This is how-to mode.
When I am in artist mode, my input shifts from how-to to inspirational. Input includes visits to museums and galleries, long walks of discovery, visits to boutiques and expos and coffee with friends and acquaintances.
The ratio of ‘known to new’ shifts and I take in a lot more new ideas or insights. This is vital for an artist or writer to keep ‘filling the well’.
WAY: What about you? What new input might serve you this summer?
Of course, ‘life as an artist’ means that your primary focus is making art. Even if you have other priorities like a day job or family, your extra bandwidth side devoted to making works of art or writing.
As a coach, author and teacher, my emphasis is on serving my people. My activities are geared toward helping them achieve their creative, personal and professional goals.
When I am in artist mode, my emphasis is on making, not serving. I am in maker mode and I take the inspiration I receive and process it in my art. The emphasis is on originality and on developing my art skills.
For my upcoming trip to Paris, I’ve outlined several projects. I will be making daily Paris WOW videos. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel.
I’m also participating in The 100 Day Project this year (starts April 19th) and my focus for that is the Daily WOW. I will be painting the things that move me to awe each and every day. My Paris paintings will build on what I’ve learned in the last few years about subject, color, line and emotion.
I will share behind-the-scenes peeks of the daily WOW on my Instagram channel. Follow me there.
With these parameters for creating, it’s easier to have an emphasis on making.
WAY: What about you? What creative projects are on your plate now?
Ditch efficiency mode
When I am in the home office, I am focused on getting a ton of stuff done. My orientation is toward efficiency and on maximizing my time and efforts. I LOVE this work mode. Full work days that feel like I’ve accomplished something give me great satisfaction.
Artist mode is much less about getting stuff done. When I am away from the home office, I am removed from a lot of my usual obligations. I have fewer appointments and thus more space. With more space, I am able to reduce my agenda for effectiveness and open to serendipity more. When I am in Europe, I feel a shift away from my usual American drive. This is one of the reasons I like to go to Europe.
WAY: What about you? Where in your week can you make some space to be less efficient and more open?
Related to more space is pace. When in the home office, I am often moving from task to task at a brisk clip. There’s a sense of urgency and engagement that I really love.
Outside the home office, this sense of urgency is reduced. I can slow down. I can wander. I remove the efficiency imperative. This is when serendipity happens and really fell the magic in life.
WAY: What about you? Which pace does your artist appreciate most?
Your artist’s life
Your idea of your creative life could look very different than mine. Here’s some homework for you if you choose to explore this. Free-write on this prompt:
These days, my writer/artist life looks like….
Free-write for 15 minutes, including as much detail as possible. What will you make? Who will you hang out with? What fuels you?
Wherever you are, whether it’s on an extended trip or sailing along the routine of your life at home, you can feel like you are living the artist or writer life you have dreamed of. It doesn’t have to an escape from the life you live now, but an integration of your artist and writer into your daily rhythms.
This trip will be different than any other I’ve taken. I will be with my friend Carl and we will focus our days on our art-making and well-filling.
I’m at a new creative edge where I want to push my painting further. I will challenge myself and be open to new associations and ways of making art. I’m excited and I admit, a bit nervous.
If you loved this article and are inspired to travel as an artist, you’ll want to get a copy of my e-book, Visit Paris Like an Artist. Lavishly illustrated and full of ways to experience Paris with your artist in the lead, this guide is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.
For the price of a coffee and pastry in Paris, get your copy now.