Every Field Must Lay Fallow

Every Field Must Lay Fallow

Maybe you are in the middle of a dry spell so severe your lips are parched.

I’m sorry. I know that feeling — that sinking, empty, aching feeling — and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

But I know that eventually it will end. And you will live through it. I’m sorry I can’t say how long “eventually” will be, but I do know that you will get your mojo back.

You are an artist.

And sometimes artists endure extended periods during which it seems as if nothing’s happening.

It ’s called acedia, meaning “spiritual torpor and apathy; ennui” or “anomie in societies or individuals, a condition of instability resulting from a breakdown of standards and values or from a lack of purpose or ideals.”

And it doesn’t mean you’re dead inside.

It just means that you’ve temporarily lost the ability to feel joy in your work. Which is sad.

But if you accept this dry spell as a stage in the artistic process, feeling fully confident that no one and nothing can ever take away your identity as an artist (after all, they haven’t been able to make it go away yet, have they?), you just might survive.

Maybe this is the time to pursue some of those other things you always say you want to do. Volunteer more. Have lunch with friends.

Take a temporary job in a field that ’s of interest to you. Spend more time with children. Read all those books you’ve got piled up. Plan a trip. Sit on the couch with the television off.

Whatever happens, don’t give up on yourself.

Eventually you will get a little tickle. An idea will whisper to you. You’ll catch yourself thinking, “I wonder if . . .” and you’ll be off to the races again, productive, happy, and rejoicing in the renewal of your vibrant, creative voice.

Are You Freaking Out Yet?

Are You Freaking Out Yet?

Taking a big step in the direction of your dreams seems like it should be easy, right?

After all – isn’t this what you’ve always wanted?

So then why do I get emails like this:

Hi Sam —

I just wanted to put it out there that I am feeling rather nervous and scared about coming to The Big Yes.

The old feelings of ‘lack’ and ‘scarcity’ and ‘putting everyone else’s needs ahead of my own’ keep popping up. Initiating changes has stirred things up – money considerations, etc. are causing doubts and guilt. Yikes!

Stuff at work is unsettled, some family stuff has come up…. (I could go on and on, but I won’t).

Any thoughts or words of wisdom to share?


Do you know the feeling?

Yep. Me, too.

So I wrote back:


Dear M —


HOORAY for you for noticing the old patterns that keep you stuck!

Because, honey — that’s it. And know that this is ALL you need to move forward: the knowledge that all that old crap — all those doubts and fears — are just an express elevator to hell.

Your FUTURE is on the other side of all this discomfort.

Learn to welcome the discomfort.
It means you are trying something new.
It means you are growing.
It means you are just ONE DEGREE away from being exactly where you want to be.

The trouble is that this uncomfortable moment you are in right now is where most people quit.

The pressure is too much.

The money-thing seems so real. (SO real!)

The family thing flares up.

The monsters under the bed somehow double in population and – hey – who gave my Mom’s voice the megaphone???

Take it from me, babe – it’s all an illusion.

The money thing is an illusion (you know it will work out. it always does.)

The family thing is an illusion (you know they will be just fine no matter what and you staying stuck doesn’t help them one bit)

The monster thing is an illusion (you’ve known that forever)

So…deep breath.
Welcome to your future.

Time for some comforting reading (Harry Potter, anyone? Annie Lamott?), extra kleenex, get a lot of sleep and maybe buy a cute new outfit or get your hair done.

Call a supportive friend.
Be here now.

You can do it!!!

All this fear and anxiety is just the SIGN you’ve been waiting for that you MUST do it.

Think of this as stage fright: you’re about to start starring in your own life.

It’s perfectly natural to have jitters.
And still — the show must go on.

(Can you imagine if you stopped the show now, just because you got scared? The audience sent away…the sets torn down…the chorus girls taking off their make-up…. it’s too sad to even contemplate. You MUST go on!)

HOORAY for you!

And HOORAY for you reaching out and admitting the TRUTH!

I can’t WAIT to see what happens next.



And if you’re interested in YOUR future, then please join me for a LIVE encore of one of the most popular free webinars I’ve ever done:

The Real Reason You’re Not Making Money from Your Creativity (it’s not what you think)

—> click here to register now

Wednesday, May 14
5pm PT/8pm ET/1am GMT
(check your timezone here: www.TimeZoneCheck.com)

We’ll send you the link ahead of time – all you need is a computer and good, fast internet connection.

—> click here to register now

The recording will be available afterwards, but there’s a very special offer that’s going to be made, and you’ll want to be there live. I’m not trying to be all hype-y, I’m just saying that I think you’ll be mad at yourself if you miss this opportunity.

If you have any questions, thoughts or comments please email us at Leonore@TheOrganizedArtistCompany.com or give us a call at (805) 881-3699.

Thank you so much for being a part of my circle….

And please do tell me how it goes for you, OK? I’m always interested to hear about your projects.

You inspire me.


Time To Put On The Rock Star Coat

Wondering how to balance a global mission and a humble heart?
How to handle all those pesky compliments?
What to do when you don’t really believe you’re all that great but you still need to promote yourself?

Yep. Me, too.

Plus I got this inquiry the other day:

Hi Sam,

Thanks for yesterday’s call – it was really inspiring.

You said that your big challenge had been visibility, and “putting on your rock star coat” (I loved that image). That’s exactly what I struggle with – coming out from hiding.

I’d love to hear more about how you stepped out into the light – if there’s specific steps you took, how you coped with the emotional backlash of being more seen etc. Also the spiritual tension of humility v reaching for the stars…

Thanks again!

Best wishes,


So I created the following call — please feel free to listen, download and share it — no registration required.

You’ll find out why you must:

1) Be a unicorn.

2) Be a rose.

3) Be gracious.

4) Be the department store Santa

5) Be 1% more present.

6) Be YOU.

7) Be an open, spiritually-centered vessel for money, success and praise.


“Just what I needed to hear today as I prep for the BIG YES! Thanks. You mentioned so many things that shoot right to the heart of my worries.” – G.A.

“Hi Sam! This was a GREAT call.  Thank you for sharing your knowledge!” – R.C.


So…what do you think?

Are you willing to start using your magical powers for good?


P.S. I make a few references to my upcoming event

The Big Yes: How To Overcome Procrastination, Perfectionism and Self-Doubt and Make Money from Your Creativity
June 20-23, 2013
San Diego, CA

and there’s still a few tickets available — if you’re interested you can find out more here: www.BigYesRevolution.com — Thanks!


Fear Of Failure Is Perfectly Reasonable

Fear Of Failure Is Perfectly Reasonable

Dear Sam:

I have a question. The book that I want to write…I am wondering if it will be useful or if anyone would want to read it.

What do I do with this feeling of ‘who cares about your work, all the effort you put in is useless….’

If you could help I would be grateful.



Dear A.,
Every single person throughout human history suffers from self-doubt, secretly believes they are a fraud and wonders if anyone will care about their work.


You are not alone.

In fact, your doubts may be part of what makes you an artist.  I’ve heard it said that only dilettantes and amateurs never doubt their talent.

And I’ve noticed that the more daring the creative idea, the more vicious and violent those critical inner voices can become.

So over time, I’ve learned this:

the louder & meaner the voices in my head are, the greater the probability that I’ve just had a really juicy idea.

Think of it this way: the voices in your head are trying to keep you safe. They don’t want you to put yourself in a vulnerable position. They try to scare you into inaction by telling you that no one will care about your work. Or worse, that people will judge you harshly.

But art is about making yourself vulnerable.

That’s kind of the point.

Or at least part of the point.

And let’s face facts – it’s possible that you will create something that other people don’t care for.

Fear of failure is entirely reasonable. But it’s no reason not to do your work.

As long as your work remains unwritten in your head, it has no effect on anyone. Except you. And then not in a good way.

Once you let your idea out of the hermetically sealed vault of your brain and out into the fresh air, the idea will immediately start to evolve. The minute you get it down on a piece of paper, it will change.

And then, once you let it out of the house – once someone else gets to experience it – then you are all changed.

You are changed.
The project is changed.
The audience is changed.

That’s the alchemy of art.

And here’s a real-life example:

Nedi, a 365 Club Member, worked with her son to compose a song about Autism. She finally got the courage to get it mastered, and she posted it online. She started getting emails and responses – including one from Kate Winslet’s Golden Hat foundation (http://www.goldenhatfoundation.org/) and now she’s created a Kickstarter Project to move the project into its next phase: http://kck.st/NBCsLo

Here’s what Nedi herself said:

Before three weeks ago, I thought to myself “Who cares if I do my 15 minutes?” But THEN a little voice said to me, “Samantha would care.”

So, on the off chance that the voice was right, and to keep myself on track: I will tell you that I completed 30 min. the first week, 60 the next, and since yesterday’s call – 90 min!

Much Gratitude and Affection,

Inspiring, right?


Those critical voices will always be with you. I’ve never met an artist who didn’t struggle against them. Me included.

It’s up to you to decide if they get to run the show.

I can’t guarantee you that getting your work out there will always lead to success.
I can guarantee you that not getting your work out there will always lead to feelings of failure.


If you would like a very inexpensive way to get some additional encouragement and support, you might enjoy participating in the extremely groovy membership club I’ve started — we’re having a blast!


Please let me know how it goes for you.


Remember: The World Needs Your Art.

Nearly Miraculous Daily Habit

“…Because you told me I was a stuntwoman and I believed you…” Painting by Lesley Perdomo
Allot Fifteen Minutes a Day to Your Project

If I could actually make you do stuff, the first thing I would get you to do is to spend fifteen minutes each and every day working on your project.

As it happens, you are the agent of change in your life, and I can’t really make you do anything.

But I strongly urge you to make this daily commitment to your project.

Do fifteen minutes every morning
— before you check your email, before you check your email, before you check your email…working on your project.

You will need an iron will to resist the siren call of the Internet, but it’s worth it.

Whatever’s out there can wait while you put yourself first for just a few minutes.

So get out your kitchen timer, or use the timer on your cell phone (in which case you can select an alert sound that you particularly enjoy), and even if you just sit still for fifteen minutes, you will profit.

I’ve heard from my students with attention deficit disorders that using a timer is an especially useful focusing ritual.

You will be amazed by how much work you can get done in fifteen minutes. You will be flat-out astonished by how much progress you make by putting in fifteen minutes a day, seven days a week, for a week, for a month, for three months, for a year.

Intellectually, this makes perfect sense. You know that if you practiced guitar every day for fifteen minutes, before long you’d be a better guitar player.

If you spend fifteen minutes a day writing a novel, eventually you will have written a novel.

If you spend fifteen minutes a day working on your abs, pretty soon you’ll have strengthened your core.

But emotionally this strategy doesn’t feel like it will work. It feels too small and too half-baked.

It may also trigger some feelings of rebellion, anger, despair, or fatigue. Sometimes those feelings show up right when you’re on the verge of a breakthrough.

You might want to think of this as your Daily Fifteen Minutes of Fame.
It ’s your chance to treat yourself like a famous artist for fifteen minutes every day.

After all, would a famous artist have any trouble claiming this small amount of time for herself ? Of course not.

Maybe you’re thinking, “Okay, Sam, but how do I go about this fifteen-minute thing?” Here ’s what I recommend:

Your Daily Fifteen Minutes of Fame — the Why

Quickly — without pondering — close your eyes for a moment and ask yourself, “What does this project represent for me? What value of mine does it represent?” and just let the answer bubble up from inside.

Maybe your answer will be “freedom” or “joy” or “self- expression” or “love” or “escape from the cubicle” or “to prove everybody wrong” — whatever word or phrase brings a little smile to your face is the right one.

You might even make yourself a little sign with your word or phrase on it and post it on or near your timer. (You could even grab a paint pen and decorate your kitchen timer if you were so inclined — a bit of glitter and glue, anyone?)

Your Daily Fifteen Minutes of Fame — the What

Working swiftly, brainstorm a list of fifteen-minute tasks.

Include a wide variety, since some days you might wake up feeling bold and want to tackle something brave such as “entering poetry contest,” and on others you’ll feel quiet and shy and want to do something simple like doodling or daydreaming. With this list at hand, you can quickly select the task that matches your mood.

For example, if I were writing a play called Romeo and Juliet, my list of fifteen-minute tasks might look something like this:

• Write a quickie character sketch of the nurse.
• Research poisons and sleeping draughts.
• Work on the balcony scene.
• Call agent.
• Brainstorm titles (Capulet vs. Montague, Why Fifteen-Year-Old
Girls Should Not Be Allowed to Go Dancing Unchaperoned )
• Write an author’s bio for the back cover.
• Double-check penalties for dueling.
• Write a blog post about doing the wrong thing for the right reasons.
• Research whether a rose by any other name really would
smell as sweet.

Your Daily Fifteen Minutes of Fame — the When

I usually suggest working in the morning, just because getting stuff out of the way first thing seems to work for a lot of people, including myself, but you might find that working after school works well (family homework time?) or just before bedtime.

Some people like to work in the middle of the night. Experiment.


My friend Emilie Beck is an award-winning playwright and theater director, and once she wrote a play (two plays, actually) in twenty-minute increments.

She had two small boys at home and a very demanding full-time job, and twenty minutes each day during her lunch hour was truly the only time she had.

It was not her preferred method of working, to be sure, but she made the best of it.

She found not only that she was able to do some great work but also that the action of writing every day helped remind her of her life goals, and kept her in touch with her artist-self, which was, I imagine, in danger of getting temporarily swallowed up by her mommy-self and her executive-self.

LESLEY’S STORY (In her own words)

I will be honest, I didn’t believe you at first. You were so adamant about how only fifteen minutes a day can help you complete a project. “Yeah, right,” kept sounding in my head. It was that same voice that always held me back from starting a project because I never knew where to start.

Whether I was starting a necklace or a painting, I always felt that if I started it, then I would have to finish it right then and there. That is a lot of pressure, so I would sometimes just shrug off some great ideas.

I figured I had nothing to lose by following your advice. I set the timer on my cell phone and started a neck- lace right away. It took me three fifteen-minute sessions to complete one, but by the end of the week, I had three more necklaces than I had anticipated.

I filled in my fifteen minutes with production, and I started to value what fifteen minutes can bring you in a day, a week, and a month! So I decided to transfer this wisdom to my paintings.

Sometimes I would feel inspired to go longer than fifteen minutes. However, if I had only fifteen minutes to give to a project, I was okay with it.

What I am sharing with you today is a painting that I started in February 2011 and finally completed it August 2011. This painting is very meaningful to me and expresses the journey that I have embarked on since starting the fifteen-minutes-a-day process.

The background is a tile collage of different tattoo images that I found in various tattoo magazines (during my fifteen minutes a day I would skim through magazines and cut out my favorite images). Soon I had collected enough to fill up the canvas (again, in different fifteen-minute segments, I glued them to every quadrant of that canvas).

Once the canvas was filled, I started painting the woman. (In those fifteen-minute segments I learned how to get the skin tones I liked, and I played with shadow.)

I will be honest: sometimes during my fifteen-minute segments I would just stare at the canvas and try to figure out what my next move would be. But those fifteen minutes of thought are what helped bring about the spiderweb, the filigree, and the crystals, all of which helped me complete this painting.

I call this painting the Stuntwoman, which is something you once called me. I have found balance in my life, in my career, by just appreciating fifteen minutes every day.

By the way, I gave Lesley the stuntwoman idea because once as she was talking to me about feeling overwhelmed by her schedule, I suggested that she consider the idea of being busy without buying into the story that busy equals being stressed out:

“Think about being busy in the same way that a surgeon is busy during an operation,” I told her. “Be busy like a trapeze artist flying through the air, or like a stuntwoman — just cleanly moving through each task with great clarity, concentration, and grace.”

There’s No Such Thing as a Single-Discipline Creative

I’ve never met a single-discipline creative.

Every creative person I know says things like, “Well, I’m a writer. But I also sing in a choir and play bass guitar and drums and embroider and do needlepoint, but I don’t do counted cross-stitch anymore, and of course everyone in my family loves to cook, and did I mention that I also clog dance?”

Like I said, you’re good at a lot of things.

And then there’s the artistry that you bring to your everyday life.

Take a look at the list of creative activities below. This list was created and then added to over the years by hundreds of students and clients. As you’ll see, some of the activities on the list are a bit outside-the-box.

Maybe you, too, have some skills that you never thought of as creative, or dare I say… artistic?

The A-B-C’s of Creative Endeavors

Acro-Yoga, Acting, Acupuncture
ADR (Additional DialogueSplitShire_TORINO_1377
Agenda Planning, All Things Mac, Alphabetizing, Animal Husbandry
Animation, Assembling Things, Awesome Salad Making

Baking, Bargain Hunting, Beadwork, Bear Hugging
Big-Picture Thinking, Biking, Bodhran (Irish Drum) Playing
Bomb-Diggity Smoothie Making, Boot Camp Sergeanting
Building Junk, Buying Presents

Cake Decorating, Calculated Risk Taking, Calligraphy
Camerawork, Caregiving, Cartooning
Chameleon-like Ability to Blend In, Choreography
Clothing Design, Coffee Making, Complimenting Others
Creative Listening, Creative Space-Making (for Others’ Art)

Dancing: Ballet, Dancing: Boogie-Oogie-Oogie, Dancing: Modern
Decoupage, Detail Designing (the devil is in the details), Doll Making, Doodling
Dream-Board Making.Driving in Los Angeles, Drumming

Editing, Emoting. Empathizing, Encouraging
Entrepreneurship, Event Planning, Expressing Myself Honestly without Being Cruel

Facebook, Fashionistaing, Faux Painting, Film Critiquing
Filmmaking, Finding Order in Chaos, Fixing Things
Flute Playing, Foley Working, Footwear Design, Furniture Making

Gardening, Gift Wrapping, Going to the Mat, Grant Writing
Graphic Design, Guitar Playing: Electric, Guitar Playing: Folk/Acoustic

Handmade Card Making, for Prisoners, Home Cooking, Home Decorating
Honesty about Self (with Wit, Sometimes), Horseback Riding

Idea Formation, Improvising, Information Sharing
Interior Design, Internet Marketing, Invoking

Jewelry Making, Joke Writing, Juggling

Kissing, Kite Making

Life Coaching, Lighting Design, Listening and Giving Advice
Logistics, Long Car Trips, Lovemaking, Lucid Dreaming

Makeup application, Making Others Comfortable with Themselves, Making Fairy Houses Marketing, Massage, Mediating, Mind-Body-Soul Coaching Motivational Speaking, Music Producing:Stage and Studio

Needlework: Crocheting, Needlework: Embroidering, Needlework: Hand Sewing, Needlework: Knitting, Needlework: needlepoint, Networking, Nursing

Ocarina Playing, Organizing Painting

Painting by Number, Party Throwing, Personal Training, Philosophy, Photography, Piano: Rudimentary, Playwriting,
Poetry: Limericks, Poetry of the Obscene,Poetry: Romantic Poetry: Memorizing
Poster making, Producing, Public Speaking
Pulling Business Concepts out of My Butt (a.k.a.Entrepreneurship?)

Quad Riding

Raw Food Juicing, Reading, Reading Aloud, Reading to Oneself, Reciting
Recorder Playing, Recovery (12-Stepping), Rollerblading, Roller-Skating

Sales, Saying No, Scabbard Making, Scenic Design, Scrapbooking, Screenwriting, Script Coverage, Sculpey-Clay Bead-Making, Set Designing,Sewing, Shopping, Show Producing: Multiple Genres, Shrinky-Dink Making, Silk Screening, Singing, Singing: Classical Music, Singing: Gospel, Snowboarding, Soap Making, Social Media, Software Design, Spiritual Leadership, Stand-Up Comedy, Staying in Touch, Studying/Being a Student, Stunt Fighting/Stage Combat Stunts

T-Shirt Design, Talking to Animals, Teaching, Technological Geekery
Theater: Avant-Garde, Theater: Classical, Theater: Clowning,Theater:Directing
Theater: Improvisation, Theater: Industrial/Business, Theater: Mime,Theater: Musical Comedy
Theater: Shakespeare Theater: Sketch Comedy, Throwing Theme Parties, Tomboyishness
Toy Making, Traveling, Tree Hugging, Tweeting

Urban Living

Vegan Baking, Video Blogging, Video Gaming

Exercise: How Many Kinds of Artist Are You?

Take a sheet of paper and divide it into two columns.

In the first column, write down any of the skills or talents from the list above that you possess. Add to the list any additional skills you have mastered that you might think of as an art.

Gift giving? Coffee brewing? Comforting people when they’re upset? Daydreaming?

In the second column, make a note about how that talent might help you to solve a current issue in your life in a unique way.

For example, remembering how good you are at throwing parties might inspire you to make your next boring meeting more festive.

Calling to mind your puzzle-solving genius might suggest a fun, new way to approach your blog.

It drives me crazy when I hear an artist say, “Oh, I could never get a real job because I’m only good at one thing.”


Spending a lifetime in the arts helps you develop all kinds of valuable skill sets: listening, reading body language, using your keen intuition; a love of history; good rhythm; the ability to present in front of a group; a sense of shape, color, and design; the ability to accept criticism; a knack for collaboration and teamwork (we usually call it “ensemble”); and most of all, the ability to think of a new idea and work hard until it’s done.

I’m not saying that you have to get a real job if you don’t want one.

I just want you to notice how many skills and art forms you bring into every room you grace.

Water Skiing
Web Design
Whitewater River Guiding
Woodcut-Print Making
Wrapping Presents
Writing Love Notes
Writing Meditations

Once you are done noticing your own unusual art forms, you might want to take a moment to notice someone else’s.

People feel very seen and cared about when you take the time to praise the way they walk in the world.

A heartfelt compliment such as “I notice that you are always very considerate in your remarks when we have
these meetings — thank you for that” can do a lot for a strained work environment.

And I will tell you from experience that writing a kindly, observant thank-you note can win you a friend for life.

Select three of your special talents, and make a note about how these gifts might be useful to you in moving your project forward.

Would love to know what you came up with, leave a comment below if you feel like sharing.

Unusual Marketing for Creative People

Your work is you.

Your creative work is an expression of your soul, of your perspective, of your innermost self. It’s completely unique to you.

So there is no “template” you can follow, because no one has ever done what you’re doing before.

And any time you start to try to adopt someone else’s “six-figure” system, or try to abide by “conventional wisdom” you get all itchy.

And then you procrastinate and you tell yourself all kinds of stories about how no one would ever pay you to do this and how there’s no market for it and how you’re probably not that good at it anyway and how the technology sort of freaks you out and what if you succeed and someone steals your idea or what if someone calls you a fraud and then you start criticizing yourself about your low self-esteem and how you never finish anything and maybe you should just forget this crazy dream of making money from your creativity once and for all.


Like that’s gonna happen.

You can’t give up on your dreams because your dreams never give up on you.

They keep haunting you.
Pulling at your sleeve.

And then you see some no-talent-hack succeed and you think, “I could do that!”

You’re right.

You can.

And maybe this is your year to try.