I wrote this list it to talk through with new coaching clients as a way to cut to the chase and find out what's keeping them from feeling fulfilled. The 16 Hallmarks are distilled from an ideal world where being an artist is the easiest possible thing you can be, which is a world most of us don't live in (otherwise there would be no need for artist coaches!).
If you’ve been an artist for a long time, you might find that a lot of these Hallmarks are things you’ve grappled with and perhaps already mastered, probably without even being aware of how important they are. It’s worth it to look the list over and congratulate yourself for achieving any of them.
My explanatory notes for each Hallmark are intentionally brief. I'm presenting this to you as food for thought, and invite you to journal your reactions to each point.
1) I have secure sources of food, shelter, and companionship. My basic needs are well taken care of.
You might not want to acknowledge that basic needs are necessary for a healthy art practice if you were brought up with the myth of the Starving Artist as an ideal. I invite you to envision a new ideal of an artist who is thriving, not just surviving. Yes, working a day job is OK. Yes, it's important to figure out why your romantic life is a mess. Don't be a stereotype.
2) My health and personal care are at the best I can achieve. I get adequate rest and nutrition, my personal hygiene is great, and I attend to health problems as they arise
Let's envision a balanced person, who inhabits their body with respect for its limits. If you do this work there's a good chance you can be practicing art into your old age with grace. Addictions and depression need to be addressed. There needs to be room in your schedule for exercise. "The Tortured Artist" isn't some special class of genius, it's a person who's suffering, who also happens to be an artist.
3) The people closest to me are very supportive of my creative work. I have unconditional respect and encouragement to be creative from the people in my life whose opinions matter to me
If you don't have the support of your closest people, it's likely one of your most pressing challenges. If you do, hopefully you realize how important it is and how lucky you are.
4) I can easily find time for creative work. I know how much time I need in order to be my most creative and I have my schedule arranged so I can have that time.
Easier said than done, right? The whole reason for the classic “Artist’s Retreat” is to give artists a respite from things like running errands, attending social functions, paying the bills, etc. But retreats are by their nature, rare and special privileges. Most of the time we’re facing a to-do list, and it can take careful planning to balance priorities, budget time, fulfill day-to-day obligations, and still be able to pan back, zoom out, and tune in to the muse. Seeing time as a finite resource can be both terrifying and liberating—but necessary so you can learn to hold boundaries around your artistic practice and face the ticking clock with maturity.
5) I have the physical space I need to do the creative work I want to do. I have a space that's dedicated to creative work that I can access whenever I need it.
Before I found my current lovely studio, I had a variety of creative work spaces that were, at best, compromises of space. At worst, they were restrictive and frustrating. Finding a good creative studio is a worthy pursuit if you’ve learned to make do with what you have. At the very least it gives what you do dignity. Doctors and lawyers have offices, teachers have classrooms, athletes have gyms…Every artist should have a studio of some kind where you don’t have to clear away your paints in order to make dinner. If the perfect space isn’t within reach at the moment, any dedicated space is better than a transient one. If that’s not possible either, then performing a small, simple ritual to mark the transition into using a space for creativity can make a big difference in terms of having that dignity.
6) I can easily lose myself in creative work. I can access the "flow state" where I can effortlessly create without self-awareness or sense of the passing of time.
Accessing the flow state is 1) really good for your emotional and psychological well-being, and 2) an indicator that you’re performing a task you’ve practiced and are skilled at. Most people are aware that they enjoy doing things they’re good at doing, but probably aren’t aware of why that is. Being in “flow” is both relaxing and energizing. Your brain is flooded with motivating dopamine giving you steady feedback that everything’s okay. You might be performing a very complicated task, but find that it requires only light concentration.
Of course when you’re new at doing something, those behavioral pathways that eventually turn into a skill will need to be more travelled before the stress of making mistakes is lifted. Until then, it’s best to limit distractions, make notes, take lots of breaks, and stop when you get tired or too frustrated. This is the part where you’re cultivating persistence and patience, and compassion for yourself.
7) I can easily access inspiration for creative work. I've fully developed the ability to start a new project with a rich source of ideas that delight and excite me.
Creativity takes practice. Some people are surprised to find out that you don’t have to be born an artist in order to have a constant flow of creativity. This flow of ideas can wax and wane and can be disrupted by mundane events, so it’s good to have a list of your favorite ways to be inspired if you’re in a dry spell. Mood boards, journals and sketch books are a few simple ways to keep track, and can in turn make the ideas flow more readily. This is an important subject that I'll definitely address in more depth in the future.
8) When inspiration strikes, I’m able to drop everything and act on it. I give top priority to creative projects and can create during demanding life circumstances.
This one is tricky for people who are trying to turn a hobby into a full-time pursuit. If you’ve learned that art is something you do after all of the “important” things are completed, you’ll need to un-learn that and flip it on its head. Remember, you’re the only one who can create the art you have in you to make.
9) I feel fully satisfied with the results of my creative work. I have a good relationship with my inner critic and a good sense of what "good art" means to me. My work aligns well with this.
The idea of “good art” is contentious, and you can spend your whole life without ever knowing what it means. Not only that, you can also spend your whole life never achieving perfection with your work, and simply learn to accept that as a part of being an artist. A happy artist, then, is ok with the ambiguity and can still enjoy their results, even though every finished piece leaves them wanting to try again!
10) I can easily access emotional support from other creatives. I have a network, either virtually or in real life, of creative people I communicate with regularly or when I need to.
Yes, art-making requires solitude (See #15 below!), but it also requires community. Those commonalities you find with other artists will get you through blocks and problems with so much less time and effort than if you faced them alone. Your art-mates will be there for commiseration and collaboration and are essential to keeping your heart light when you face your empty studio.
11) The quality of my creative work is the highest I can achieve. I've been practicing my chosen medium for a long enough time that I'm successful and fulfilled with almost every project.
What can I say, I'm a bit of a fox. Hopefully you don't agree 100% with this statement--I imagine that it might make your work feel a little stale. But conversely if you're looking at the work you've accomplished so far and are feeling like it doesn't measure up I would invite you to enjoy that feeling, or at least accept it as the propellent in your artistic engine. Quality, like we saw in #6, is not so easily defined, and is largely subjective. Your job as the artist is to simply keep making art. And if you've been working with the same means of expression for so long that everything that comes out of your studio is great, well, how would you feel about trying something new?
12) I feel like my work has a purpose that’s connected to something larger than myself. I’m secure in the feeling that my art is an important contribution to the world.
Any career or vocation you choose can be an important contribution if you approach the work with commitment and joy, and in that way you're ensured a feeling of worth in your community. For an artist, you have the option to choose your level of involvement--from making a few people feel delight, all the way to striving to awaken the world to cultural and societal issues. What's important is that you've chosen to make it matter. Others may agree in its importance, but they may not. Does that change its value to you?
Many artists feel that their work is a spiritual practice and that their creativity connects them to an ineffable energy. Homo Sapiens have been making art for millennia, so participating in such a lineage can be seen as connecting to ancestral spirits. In a way, their spirits live on through you.
13) I use critical feedback from others to help guide my creative vision. I can take criticism without feeling hurt or insulted and can both assess the value of the feedback and apply it constructively
I've written at length about criticism in my 08.09.2022 article and I encourage you to read it. Criticism is part of your dialogue with the world. Being successful in that dialogue is an important skill to master, and invaluable for an artist's spirit. The things people say about your art will probably change the way you see it. Learn to welcome that change.
14) I’m able to enjoy the work of other artists in my field without envy or feelings of inadequacy. I get excited and inspired by other artists and can enjoy it for its own sake without fear of it detracting from my sense of personal fulfillment
Art doesn't have to be a competition. Most people become artists because art is a source of joy. When being an artist starts to feel like a chore, like when you're faced with financial challenges or other constraints on your practice, then it's time to indulge your heart's longing for the simple pleasure of connecting with someone else's work. Or, if those envious feelings you're getting from other artists becomes too much, it's okay to seclude yourself for awhile--Turn off social media, leave the newsletters unread. Put a time limit on it, and use that seclusion to throw yourself deeper into your practice and regain your sense of self esteem.
15) I am comfortable with lots of solitude. I can easily judge, and then access, the amount of solitude I need to be creative, and I know how to deal with loneliness
Most artists I've talked to about solitude are comfortable spending lots of time by themselves, but sometimes solitude is a fleeting resource. Though some art practices, like music and dance, require collaboration, real connection with your personal artistic core is best done when you're free to let your mind wander and let yourself goof around. For some people this becomes a practice in setting boundaries and learning to say "no" to other peoples' demands for our attention. Relationships are hard work, and the relationship we have with ourselves is the most important one to work on. The good news is, it gets easier the more you practice, and the rewards are immense.
16) I have a wealth of experience and training in the creative field I’m most interested in. I have formal training and know where to go to train further in my field AND/OR I've been practicing my chosen medium for a long time.
Taking a class, ANY class, that boosts your knowledge base will add to your self-esteem, enlarge your community, add to your value in the established art world, etc. There's plenty of room in the world for more self-taught artists, but be aware that it may be an isolating, difficult path.
The main thing is that you keep going. Be resilient. Be persistent and intentional. Learn to be those things if you feel like you're not. The key words of this final hallmark are “Wealth of Experience”. Every day of art making adds to the wealth. The world is lucky to see itself through your eyes.
This article was a challenging one to write. Beyond suggesting some form of balm or resolution, I wanted to reassure you that you are seen. Artists are not the only people who suffer from fears of success and failure, but our journeys can be so daunting in so many unique ways. I’m hoping to relieve you of some of the pressure you may feel to be somebody and make something of yourself. Because I get it. I’m really intimate with that feeling too.
I started showing a precocious aptitude for drawing and writing in grade school. I was singled out, given awards, and expected, in a nebulous way, to go on to do great things with my talents. My family was working class: my father, an Italian immigrant, worked in construction and didn’t finish high school. My mother was a stay-at-home from a working class Canadian-Italian family of 10. They didn’t lack a sense of culture. Both had some appreciation for some forms of fine art. What they didn’t have, that I can’t blame them for not having, was scope. They didn’t know what to do with me and my art skills. My mother, especially, was pretty certain I’d follow in her footsteps. My father, being most familiar with a patriarchal model, only knew how to encourage my brothers to succeed.
It may have been this lack of concrete expectations that lead me to forge my own path. I developed a burning need to succeed in spite of those key figures being only vaguely encouraging. As a fledgling artist, I was groping in the dark until I arrived in California and things started to take off. Once here, I sacrificed a lot to stay—family, financial security, a sense of familiarity and rootedness. Things have not always gone smoothly, and at times I felt overwhelmed by the feeling that if I couldn't make a go of it, I'd be betraying everything and everyone I'd left behind, proving that I'd taken a selfish and foolhardy risk. When faced with tremendous pressure to do something easier and more practical, it would feel like the paralyzing stare of a serpent.
The reality is widely known: There’s only a tiny handful of wildly famous and wealthy artists compared to the vast number who are simply not. Based on this, it’s easier for people (including ourselves) to expect failure than it is to imagine success in the arts. The difficulties of making a living as an artist are legendary, and it’s hard to imagine persisting in the face of that. Many give up on their creative ambitions because of it. I often get the feeling that onlookers feel a morbid satisfaction when artists fail, because it validates a dreadful but common world view—that art is frivolous, that conventional choices are the smarter ones, and that those who choose to be artists, are fools.
There's another side to this, where being an artist elevates you to hero status, and you end up on a pedestal. People in our lives who harbor frustrated creative urges might seek vicarious success and will push us well beyond reasonable expectations. Think of the so-called "dance mom" who turns a child's innocent artistic curiosity into their own narcissistic source of pleasure. Drunk on the applause for their child's hard won victories, they might not even notice the child's misery at having to perform under the stress of their parent's demands. Limits are tested and goals are continually moved outward in the attempt to claim a victory for something they themselves gave up on or are too afraid to do. And, yes, our spouses and teachers can be guilty of this as well.
For an artist in that situation, succeeding might end up being equated with suffering, or with feeling like a puppet. There's a feeling that the harder you work and the more skilled you become, the more your autonomy is threatened. Dropping out of the game would bring relief, so sometimes an artistic practice will come to an end just as it's on the verge of blossoming into something beautiful. The age-old story of Self-Sabotage comes to mind.
These examples help illustrate the classic dynamics of "Fear of Failure" and "Fear of Success". But I don’t want you, dear reader, to get comfortable in the victim role. Maybe these fears that drive us came from somewhere in our histories and were planted by others, but they belong to us now. And who knows, maybe they’re of our own making entirely.
No matter who the instigator is, it seems to come down to how success is measured. Maybe it's based on the number of Instagram or Twitter followers, the number of awards, or the number of mentions in the press. Inevitably, because money is how we measure the value of most things, it will come to that. It’s easy to measure success in dollars if you want to. Getting gigs, contracts, grants, paychecks and stipends, they’re tangible reinforcement and undeniably important since they translate into freedom and agency. And a little bit of fame goes a long way when it comes to getting that bread. But keep in mind that money and art are most often paired through sheer force of luck. There are artists with little skill or talent who are obscenely wealthy, and artistic geniuses who never escape poverty. Should you be looking to them as role models?
What's important to notice about those common measures of success is that they're quantifiers. People will often set a number value to reach for with the dream of feeling some sort of magical orgasm when they reach that number. How does that usually work out, do you think? If you're miserable and fearful the whole time you're slogging away, do you think reaching a magical number of success widgets will transform those feelings?
I realized some time ago that I was starting to finally appreciate how far I've come, and that whatever image I once had in my head of what it would look like to succeed had completely shifted. When I'm at my best, my own vision of success is aligned with my core values, some of which are Excellence, Intelligence, and Enjoyment. I tend to reassess the definitions of them regularly, but I strive towards a reflection from the world that my life and my art are embodiments of those values. It’s likely I’ll never reach any sort of summit with such un-quantifiable goals, but the striving is its own reward. Holding my values dear is a noble enough purpose on its own, and I'm able to do it with passion. Fame and fortune are encompassed, but not inherent—Possible side-benefits that I wouldn’t snub! But they’re not what get me out of bed in the morning.
I challenge you to define success for yourself as mindfully as possible without regard for the standards of others, and without quantifiers or success widgets. Defining your core values is a great first step, which I help people do in my practice. It will sharpen your focus and help you make key decisions. Try and get as clear an image as you can of a successful artist, then practice placing yourself in those shoes. How would you be feeling? Where would you be living, and with whom? Would you still be making art? What kind? It's not a unique exercise, but a powerful one.
Above all I’m advocating for the supreme measure of success to be achieving a state of abiding peace and contentment. I’ve found that any other definition can always be distilled down to that. It certainly pays to notice moments during our day-to-days when peace is out of reach. That’s a big clue to try something different, or at least reassess your motivations. It also pays to notice contentment’s subtle presence and take a moment to feel grateful for it. Notice your surroundings, your activities, your company. And do more of that.
So saying, you have permission to let it go. If being an artist is the thing that stands in the way of your ultimate peace and contentment, then stop. All the fear and pressure would fall away. There’s no shame in it if it will bring you closer to peace.
By the same token, if quitting your art practice would leave you forever tortured with regret, then what choice do you have?
Criticism takes us out of our comfortable little studio cocoon and reminds us that a work of art is complete when it has an audience, and facing the reaction of the world is part of the work. Since so much of art-making happens in solitude, it can be painful to deal with the inevitable second pair of eyes. Fear of criticism is never welcome or helpful. Stage fright is an extremely difficult challenge. Let’s see if we can very gently pick apart this particularly sticky web.
When the pure act of creating is happening, when the artist enters the flow state, there is no audience, or “otherness”. The ego of the artist isn’t even there. It’s a participation in being and becoming, an unfolding of newness and a channeling from a soul’s longing. It’s an intrinsically motivated act—the reward is in the doing itself.
It’s no wonder, then, that coming out of that bubble of solitary soul-channeling can make us feel vulnerable. A creator feels protective of the creation, and the bond with the work is often described as feeling maternal. But let’s try not to slip too easily into that analogy. What’s needed here is an understanding of personal motivation and purpose.
All too often artists fall into the trap of being pleasers. The thrill of creating something that is praised by others is a powerful experience that we may end up seeking out over and over again, and unconsciously (or sometimes consciously) picking up on the aspects of our work that others are most titillated by and using them to get more of that praise. Over time we may lose touch with the intrinsic motivation, having replaced it with positive feedback from others. It might also come in the form of money, social status, or prestigious awards.
If we look with compassion on this dynamic, we see a need for love and a story that love must be earned. Simply put, we have learned the idea that creating makes us worthy of love. Any core wounds around self-worth can be ignored or dismissed because the antidote is to keep creating and feeding off of praise. The motivation becomes extrinsic.
Can you sense the sticky web that’s being spun? When an artist’s self-worth hinges on praise, a badly timed word of criticism can send them reeling.
Not only that, but being alone in the studio with the voices of praise and criticism nattering away in the background can make connecting with the flow state stressful at best, or torture at worst. The core drive for achieving mastery of the craft can get sidelined for years by defaulting to creating what’s most pleasing to others, and is criticized the least.
This situation is made even worse by the pressure of wanting to make a living as a professional artist. When praise translates to food on the table, how can anyone be faulted for being a bit of a whore?
When you get right down to it though, whether it’s running from criticism or chasing an Oscar, extrinsic motivation has an expiration date. Eventually the feeling that it leaves us with is that we’re being used and controlled. At that point art is no longer the antidote to a lack of self-worth, it’s the source.
I want to both acknowledge how complicated this is and how seemingly simplistic the solution can be—namely the application of a thick coating of protective self-adoration. I know this can be a life-long challenge for many people, as the roots of self-worth injuries can be very deep, so let’s start with a reframing.
I came up with the concept of "being your own biggest fan". In this fan club with a membership of one, everything you do is praised and your endeavors are never doubted. You don’t have to show your work to anyone else and you don’t have to accept criticism when it’s offered. The only person you need to please is you. Though this isn't a suitable end-goal for a professional, this is the first step towards bringing your motivation back into balance.
Allow yourself ample time to enjoy your own work before putting it out to other people. Stare at your drawing for hours. Listen to your completed music piece over and over, thoroughly soaking up the satisfaction until you’re absolutely detached from the piece. The craving for outside praise can be hard to resist at first. But see how long you can really indulge in admiring the work as if it were created just for you.
Spend some time thinking and writing about why you started creating art in the first place. Do some time travel and go back as far as you can remember. You may have started creating in early childhood. What motivated you back then? See if you can recall the feeling of creating when you first discovered your voice. Your work has probably changed a lot over time. See if you can find the common thread throughout all of your work.
That common thread, the vision that has motivated you all along, is the essential, unique element about your work that you bring to the world. Regardless of others’ praise or criticism, that essence has value simply because it comes from you and you alone. Striving to perfect the expression of that vision is to be in service of it. That’s the intrinsic contract. Getting to that realization will reconnect you to the source of the flow and free you from the extrinsic hamster wheel.
So now that you’re armed with your core motivation and your "fan club-of-one" has your back unconditionally, you can approach the task of presenting your work. Let’s just say for the moment that you already know who your best audience is (that’s a topic for another day!). There are some key things to keep in mind.
1) Not everyone knows how to give constructive feedback.
2) Everyone has their own thing going on.
3) it’s not always about the work itself.
4) Valuable feedback resonates with your core purpose.
Being able to discern between useful feedback and nonconstructive noise is a skill worth cultivating. It's a good practice to weigh your incoming commentary for its actual value. Your sources of criticism and praise can be held up to the light of judgement, and measured against your personal values and motivations.
Not everyone knows how to give constructive feedback
Only a small percentage of the feedback you get on your work comes from people who are literally qualified to give it. Those people usually include: Professional critics, art historians and professors, senior artists in your chosen medium, seasoned collectors and curators, successful producers and publishers, etc. You get the idea...I'm sure you can think of a few more. They might have useful things to say that you could learn from and use to fuel your motivation and improve your skills. It's good to be able to appreciate and integrate the gift of their knowledge. But beware, they're not infallible! Which brings me to my next point.
Everyone has their own thing going on
Even a professional is not always going to give you their undivided attention when you present your work. They could very well be in the middle of a personal crisis, be distracted by current events or, heck, indigestion. You never know. Although you might be really caught up in what they have to say, they may not be nearly as invested when they say it. If feedback seems careless or ill considered, maybe that's because it is. Even positive feedback from a trusted source might be the product of someone's good mood at the time, in fact it might be completely arbitrary. So a grain of salt is a worthwhile addition.
It’s not always about the work itself
This point is especially important when you're getting feedback from friends and family, a spouse, even other artists--there's always a chance they're not so much giving you feedback on the work as trying to be nice to get on your good side, or conversely, take you down a peg. There's nothing wrong with trying to be nice, in fact it shows that someone likes you and potentially wants to cultivate a friendship, or just make you feel good. But does it help strengthen your purpose? That should always be carefully weighed. If not, thank them, put it on the pile of nonconstructive criticism, and go have dinner with them. When someone says, "I love your work", and you suspect it's just a nicety, test it by asking, "what do you love about it?".
Hopefully you don't often encounter the sort of feedback that's meant to make you feel inadequate or like a failure, but it does happen. In that case make a note to not show your work to them again and try not to take it to heart. Art often provokes. That's a feature, not a bug.
Valuable feedback resonates with your core purpose
When you're secure in your artistic purpose and your fan club is cheering you on, even good criticism won't matter a whole lot. You'll pick and choose what to take to heart. When someone deeply connects with your work and tells you as much, it can be elating. You'll feel seen in a way that only artists experience, and it's a special gift. That moment of genuine reward completes the intrinsic contract with your vision and reinforces your successful service.
The main takeaway I want to give to you is that your self-worth is inherent, not contingent. Go ahead and put your gold trophies on the shelf, you deserve it. Feel free to turn your back on detractors. You have more important things to do, however, than to dwell on it.
Welcome to my brand new website, and to this, my introductory article. I have a huge list of things I want to write about but I had to pick something to start with. That was tough, but a client I met with recently had such a textbook example of this dynamic going on that it brought it to the forefront. I've been dealing with it for quite some time as well, and it even helped inspire the name of my coaching business. This is for artists who find they don't have the time to make art.
Cinderella. You know the story: She has an evil step mother who gives her all the chores to do and when the opportunity to go to a dance party comes up, step mom says, "Sure you can go! Just as soon as you finish all of your chores." She then proceeds to give poor Cinderella so many tasks that by the times she's finished them all, it's too late to go.
Artists love to play Cinderella as an unconscious excuse to avoid creative work. The long list of chores, tasks and appointments are all really important, and there's usually a promise mixed in of "I can paint/write/play music when all the important things are completed".
There are a few different fantasies or self-deceptions going on here. One is that the list of chores CAN be completed. Another is that there is some possible salvation in completing the chores—The idea that the step mother will be appeased and that this brings rewards in the form of art making. The latter needs to be unpacked.
Most of us who had a conventional education were taught from a very young age that art is a fun activity that is a special privilege to practice. Like Cinderella's dance party, it's a luxury. Recreation. Play time. First come STEM subjects, then somewhere way down the list after PhysEd, there's art class. When school budgets require cutbacks, art is often the first thing hit. For this reason, people who are drawn to the arts in later years are often seen as making a frivolous choice.
The partial truth of this is that art is indeed a luxury in the strict sense that you can't eat it, it won't keep you warm in winter, and you can't make babies with it. But is it really "fun"? For those that dive into the deep end of the artist's pool, the practice is loaded with a lot of tedium, risk, failure, financial burden, emotional stress, etc. When you look at it that way, making art starts to align less with fun and more with "work"—Work that sometimes happens to be fun.
It's no wonder that we're compelled to avoid it, especially when we believe it should be fun and it turns out not to be!
(If you keep reading my articles or work with me you'll quickly find out how I feel about the word "should".)
Playing Cinderella means we're failing to hold boundaries around our creative time and giving it a lower status in our lives. The advice I've heard often for blocked artists is to make a schedule for creative time and stick to it. This can be very effective! But as long as we hold on to the mythology of "art is fun", that schedule will quickly fall apart.
On a deeper level, the satisfaction of completing tasks can be addictive, and can manifest as busywork or people pleasing. Activities with a quick turnaround are given priority because they quickly lead to a pleasant charge—even more so when we're rewarded with another person's gratitude, or avoiding another's disappointment.
The need for a quick charge of satisfaction will always be there, as well as the tedium of the work of making art. The best place to start in learning to cope is to practice acceptance and self-awareness of these issues, then try shifting the focus of the quick-charge tasks into the studio or writing space. See if there are some short-term rewards to be gained in busywork that's geared towards art making. You could shop for and buy some new software for production, or a new lamp for the work table. You could find and hang one new image for your mood board. I will often sweep the studio floor when I need that quick fix. You will eventually find yourself drawn to creative tasks that have more long-term reward. Each brief encounter with the creative space is a little investment, each dose of proximity adds to familiarity, which leads to more and more commitment over time.
So what about the fairy godmother, the prince and all that? Is there an analogy there for blocked artists, too? As is often the case with fairy tales, the happy ending is the part that's most removed from reality. There's no outside force that you can count on to sweep aside all your other chores so you can make art. In the case of the evil stepmother, she's not an outside force either. The agency we have in our own lives, the existential fact of our freedom of choice needs to be looked at. In my coaching sessions I'll go through a client's life with a fine tooth comb to find the chunks of time that are hiding behind the myth of the evil stepmother, and find ways to free it up, shifting it into the studio.
Most importantly, the inherent dignity of making art and being an artist has to be acknowledged internally and then asserted, because very few people will hold your work and your time as sacred as you do.
So make that schedule. And stick to it.