Book Introduction

From the Introduction to "Kick-Ass Creativity" --

You have somehow found yourself here because you are ready to take your art and creativity to a new level, a greater place in your life. This is exciting and significant. You are already further along in your creative journey than you were just moments ago! Get ready and hold on tight, ’cause it’s gonna be a rockin’ trip. We’re going to have fun. You’re going to be shocked at what you can accomplish and how quickly the sense of forward motion will start feeling like a regular part of your art and life.
     You may have suspected that there’s more to your abilities and creative impact than you’ve been able to demonstrate, which is why there’s that nagging ache to devote more time, more page, more thought to the sparks of inspiration that touch you. You know you have contributions to make, innovations to birth, light to shine. You sense there’s a kick-ass artist/adventurer/discoverer inside of you, and it’s dying to get out. I agree! Let’s not waste a single second. Let’s set that sucker free! There’s amazing work to be done, inventions to be released, delight to find in both process and result. You are a big, wild, fantastic powerhouse with important work to do! And in case you’re concerned, please trust that you already have everything you need to get exactly where you want to go. (You’ve actually had it all along—remember those wise words from the Good Witch of Oz?) It may be that you just need a little reminding, a little guidance here and there, to nudge you onto the gorgeous currents of the creative jet stream that’s right there waiting for you. Let’s build enough momentum to lift you off the ground and up into the big creative flow where you can really fly.

[Excerpted from Kick-Ass Creativity: An Energy Makeover for Artists, Explorers, and Creative Professionals. Copyright © 2010 by Mary Beth Maziarz. Excerpted by permission of Hampton Roads Publishing, a division of Red Wheel Weiser / Conari Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.]

Excerpt: "Big Creative"

From pages 31-35 of "Kick-Ass Creativity"...
Being part of a piece coming to life--participating in its journey from the spark of an idea into form--offers one of life’s most exciting (and possibly addictive) sensory and psychologically rewarding experiences. You’ve felt it, right? That fantastic, sparkly rush in your gut, the whole-body shower of goose bumps, the smile that won’t leave your face as you realize: Something is happening here! I like this piece—it’s working! This is going to be really cool! When we’re in that gorgeous moment of certainty, of confident creating, we are true believers. We are on fire, connected, grounded and flying at once.
     Other times, we feel a million miles away from inspiration or brilliance. We’re certain we’ve never done anything significant, and worse yet, we never will. We wonder at the time we’ve already wasted on the whole thing.
     Or maybe we think we’re onto something exciting, and we suddenly fall flat. We discover that our most recent brilliant idea is already in progress in someone else’s artistic life. (Google and I have had some heartbreaking moments with that one.) A wayward word from a confidante leaves us deflated. Or it’s less obvious than that, more internal, as if our unfolding inspiration somehow got cut off and abruptly the line to inspiration was lost. We feel cold, flailing, awkward, doubtful. Worried. Alone.
     How do we get off this roller coaster? Is it possible to nurture a more resilient connection to that highest creative state? How can we strengthen our resolve for a lifetime, not just the next project (or this afternoon’s session)? How do we fill our energy reserves with the real stuff, not just temporary fixes or hopped-up highs that leave us quickly crashing and depleted again?
     It’s tempting to believe we can muscle our way to insane levels of discipline, to force ourselves by sheer will into models of productivity and inspiration, but let’s be honest. Haven’t we already tried this method? Haven’t we jacked ourselves up on whatever we thought might work in the past and found that it still let us down? All the caffeine, sugar, alcohol, drugs, schedules, deadlines, inspiring quotes, goal sheets, and artist groups in the world can’t keep us going indefinitely.
Some people seem to always be creating; they’re having a blast, doing great work, allowing one project to lead beautifully and organically to the next, and all with a spring in their step. They mention amazing coincidences and fun synergy. Their processes look easy, almost effortless; statements like, “I just had an idea, and I did it” come up frequently (much to the chagrin of those struggling at the moment). Furthermore, they gather rewards and attention that so many of us crave.
     What’s their secret? There must be something more, something really special, that invigorates and strengthens these models of kick-ass creativity we admire and envy and aspire to be. Were they born this way, into a charmed artistic existence? Did they have all kinds of advantages growing up that allowed their full potential to come to life? Do they have some secret habits or tools (special vitamins? a qi gong master? a supersweet, lightning-fast laptop?) that keeps them on this higher creative plane?
     Maybe you’ve gotten close to breaking through to this powerhouse kind of energy, but feel you’ve still missed the mark. You may have gotten to the point where you can bop out of your seat with physical vitality, feel mentally sharp as a tack, and know you’ve got great friends and a wonderfully centered, content existence, yet still sense that there is something critically important missing in your life, pulsing somewhere deep beneath the day-to-day maintenance and pleasantries. This is the call of our fullest potential, and I think most of us desperately want to embody it, as frightening as that path might sometimes seem.
     The path of finding this potential asks that we open up and connect our intimate, immediate self with our highest one. We can find that elusive “something more” and expand it into something huge and thrilling in our very own lives. We can start listening, and honor the call of Big Creative.

The Fountainhead of Inspiration
Within each of us is a consciousness that is both human and divine: this is the energy of the soul. We are more than tumbling atomic particles, more than instinct and evolution in action. We are awake to our being, which makes us rich with both possibility and responsibility. We hold the ability to plan, to design, to imagine, to intend. We can feel. We can choose. And we can focus, directing our attention to that which we seek and allowing the rest to fall aside. We can invite the higher power of our choice--and understanding--to journey with us or come to our aid.
     When we’re open to this higher power, this source, we become channels to great brilliance, to ideas beyond our own scope. It’s here that our spirits are fueled and that energy takes on both a distinctly personal and universal tone. One might call this source God, the Universe, our Expanded Self, the Great Creator, even just Source with a special capital S--anything you want, really. Use any term or understanding that feels right for you and go with it in a way that hopefully leaves you free of any baggage or unproductive associations. (This is about connecting with your highest, best self, not any certain philosophy or dogma.)
     I believe that the real adventure of art-making, that intricate combination of leap and surrender, begins on a wondrous tide of energy and ideas that springs eternal from the Great Source, the river of radiant potential. It’s larger than life, grander than us, yet we have access to it anytime we chose: it’s Big Creative. Big Creative is the massive current of inspiration that is available to us anytime, anywhere. Big Creative gushes with thrilling ideas, moving art, and brave new innovation. Big Creative welcomes us to dip in with hefty cups, take a deep drink, bathe in it, love in it, delight in it.
     When we are in open contact with Big Creative, we are meditation in action--wakeful and calm, but with our hands or mouths or whole bodies knowing what to do. Our spirits lift, and we bump up against the divine, bridging the gap between the world of ideas and the world of the physical. Often the result of this meeting of worlds is brilliance.
     Big Creative fills our tanks like no other fuel imaginable. And the best part is that there’s no lack, no competition--there’s plenty of everything for everyone. There’s not even a skills or worthiness requirement before one is allowed to tap on into Big Creative. There need only be a few things, and they’re already parts of our everyday lives.
The first is focus.

WTF? (“What’s the Focus?” That Is)
What does it mean to focus?
     For our purposes, it means putting our awareness and attention squarely on what we want, whether for our creative projects, the world, or ourselves. It means consciously choosing not to linger on what we don’t want, or to spend our time and energy on worry, blame, or anything else that makes us feel like crap. It also means getting honest and noticing what’s not working so we can start moving toward what we do want, since it’s positive focus that opens us up to Big Creative and keeps us connected to the highest sources of inspiration and energy.
     Next we’ll want to bring in desire, feelings, alignment, and allowing.
You know how desire basically works, right? It starts with a feeling. You decide (often subconsciously) that you want a certain feeling, and then you direct your actions toward getting the thing, person, or experience you imagine will bring you that feeling. Desire is like our destination--it’s where we’ve decided we want to go.
Feelings act as our compass as we move in the direction of our desire. They’re like a GPS device guiding us to what we want, and they’re calibrated by the qualities of our emotions, good and bad. Feelings give us immediate feedback on how we’re progressing. Good feelings tell us we’re getting warmer--that we’re hot on the trail toward the things and experiences we want. Bad feelings, unfortunately (but helpfully), tell us just the opposite. Along with the specifics of the sadness, anger, or frustration we might be feeling, negativity also indicates that we’re moving away from that which will bring our deepest joy.
     Alignment is like fuel for our journey; it’s what gets things moving fast and powerfully. How do we align ourselves with what we want? What do we do to get aligned with Big Creative in our lives? We find real alignment when we get into the full feeling state of our desires, creating really fun buzz and excitement as we imagine the sensory sides of what we want.
     Allowing is the state of relaxation and disengagement that asks us to step back for the sake (not detriment) of our desires. In our little journey metaphor, allowing would be the wisdom that pries our cramped hands off the wheel and lets our partner drive for awhile, so we can make better time and get there safely. It’s the trust that we don’t need to do everything ourselves in order to get where we want to go.
These five elements--focus, desire, feelings, alignment, and allowing--are the most powerful tools we have for making over our energy. They can be the best energy amplifiers and most daunting drains, so we’ll need to use them properly and skillfully. We’ll look at each one in depth, along with some other helpful techniques, in the next several chapters.
     With these tools, we’ll navigate the roar and thrust of Big Creative, which will allow it to carry us to places we could never reach on our own, even if we were to paddle diligently for years. Regularly connecting with this awesome Source will get you more of what you want out of all your creative endeavors. As with any powerful force, it helps if we work with the current rather than against it, so let’s explore the dynamics that govern Big Creative . . . 

[Excerpted from Kick-Ass Creativity: An Energy Makeover for Artists, Explorers, and Creative Professionals. Copyright © 2010 by Mary Beth Maziarz.  Excerpted by permission of Hampton Roads Publishing, a division of Red Wheel Weiser / Conari Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.]

Listen to Interviews

...on Queen of Dreams Radio with Tina Ferguson
That was so much fun!  Thanks, Tina!
We had a great talk about committing to a creative take on things,
figuring out when your 'detours' in life are instructive or cop outs,
and lots of other great topics.  

Listen to recent interviews with Mary Beth
via iTunes (Dr. Marlene Siersema -- Show 149 on "Amazing Women: Brains, Beauty, and Style"),
 (Diego Mulligan on "The Journey Home," Santa Fe Public Radio 101.1 FM)