The Artist's Hierarchy of Needs

I love this thoughtful list authored by writing coach Cynthia Morris. It’s a good one to revisit when your creative process is faltering. Take a look at each of these needs and see which one you may need to be paying more attention to in your artistic life.

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“Need for creative space: as Virginia Woolf called a ‘room of one’s own’. Depending on what you’re creating, you may not need as big a space as you think you do. Write or draw out your ideal space and then assess how you have elements of that in place now.”

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“When you’re on the edge of creativity, you need other creative people who understand the risks you’re taking and who encourage them. We need creative peers to talk, share, spark insights and ideas and to encourage us. Commit to connecting with people who ‘get’ you more often.”

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“In her book The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron calls this need ‘filling the well’.” What fills your creative well and how can you incorporate more of that into your everyday life?

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”This is different than physical space. It’s the time we need for noodling, doodling, wandering, and gathering thoughts. While it appears to be the antithesis of productivity, it’s actually vital to a productive creative cycle. Don’t pack every moment full of activity.”

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“We’re out in the ethers most of the time, us artists. We need to remember to take good care of our bodies by walking, dancing, practicing yoga, playing tennis, or whatever moves you regularly.”

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“Solving problems, pushing boundaries, developing something new is at the heart of the creative process. Rather than despair about how difficult it is, embrace the challenge of your craft.”

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“When we’re making something from nothing, we need to be able to rely on faith and belief in ourselves and our work. Without this, we can operate from despair and give up before our work is complete. Tap into your belief that you are on the right track, and do it often.”

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We can’t create in a vacuum. We need the opportunity for our work to be seen and responded to—by friends, partners, peers, and even strangers. The work doesn’t quite exist until that moment.

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“Have some rootedness so you can be creatively ‘out there’ as much as you need to.”

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“Make choices that allow time for your art. The laundry, your e-mail, your garden will all be there an hour later, after you have spent time with your art.”