How To Honor The Process

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we our own worst enemies.

Whether the narrative in our heads continually reminds us that as artists we aren’t any good (so, why bother anyway).

Or, we have tons of enthusiasm when starting a new project or taking a new course and the minute something goes wrong and the masterpiece isn’t created right away, we completely invalidate the process.

Resignation sets in. You hate your art. You can’t gain any traction. You feel like you are staying in the messy, chaotic adolescent stage way longer than necessary.



So, what do you do?

You just end the class  (aka throwing your money away) and start a new one.

Serial e-course dating is what I like to call it.

Has this ever happened to you?



(If you are nodding your head yes, don’t worry, I can’t see you. It does feel good to come clean, though, doesn’t it?) Especially in the virtual landscape!

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes we take a class and the instructor just doesn’t work for us; he/she has no right being an e-course instructor and working with fragile adults, or you thought the content was something completely different than advertised.

I am not talking about you. You get the pass.

I am going to teach you a fabulous secret that I am sure will make its way into a future e-course, but for now….I am giving it away for free.

Become your own self coach.

That’s right. Start to have intelligent, intellectual, and purposeful self-coaching talks with yourself. Tell the gremlin that resides in your head – you know that one that is always telling you that you can’t do something, to go take a hike. Or, as I told my students the other day….tie him to a chair and put a sock in his mouth AND then put him in another room.

Replace that gremlin with another version of yourself – your own self coach – and you can very quickly stop being your own worst enemy.

Sometimes hating your art or hating your first draft of your novel or hating your draft of your dissertation (LOL – that was clearly written for me – sorry) is necessary and part of the bigger picture.


Not the product – but the PROCESS.

When I was a teacher in elementary and middle school, this was something I taught over and over again to my students. I didn’t care about the shiny finished product. I cared about their process. What they learned. How they got to the end. What worked. What didn’t. How did learning the process help them in the future? My students reflected more about the process of writing their essays than the actual essay.

And, they still loved me!

It isn’t any different for adult learners.

And, you have a choice as an adult because you do know better.

Instead of picking up your toys and going away, you can play the self-coach and tell yourself that this is just part of the process. It is the truth in creating anything. You make mistakes and from those mistakes, you learn to tweak, you revise, you uncover gems, you keep at it – polishing it until you realize how important the process really is.

You may want the process to be different. You might want fairy dust to be sprinkled on your piece so that it looks fabulous without you doing the work. You might just wait it out hoping for the creative muse to stop by and stay for a while.



My advice?




Embrace the messy stuff. The mud that you are making. The lack of composition in your piece. You can just simply say, “Boy, I am making some lousy art today, but this is all part of the process. I am not worried about the product – YET). And, boy do we know about the power of yet, people.

And, realize that by acknowledging what is happening, you are really honoring the process of creating art.

The next time you see someone’s art that you really like, why not write her and ask her how long it took for her to perfect her talent (which, she would probably tell you she is still working on). I doubt anyone will say, “Oh, I just tried out these alcohol inks a few times and created these gorgeous pieces and now I make my entire living from selling my art”. Not going to happen.

You need to set a doable goal for yourself.

This is what I encounter all of the time in my classes. Students want to try just one technique a few times and when they can’t get it, they move on. They make the technique wrong or themselves wrong, not the fact that they haven’t practiced enough to understand the process. If it is not perfect right away, they immediately throw in the towel.

This is not honoring the process of painting. It is actually dishonoring the process of painting.



Maybe you want to write out the answers to these questions and post them around your art studio:

How did I honor the process of painting?

How did I dishonor the process of painting?

The next time I feel stuck or frustrated or blocked, what can I do to change my past pattern and gets me back on track?



You have now achieved a goal-oriented process and you, only you are the master of control. You are becoming more and self aware and gaining courage. According to Maisel (2005) “finding the willingness to become your own coach really means finding the willingness to be truthful and objective about your situation and then doing whatever your situation requires, including things you don’t want to do”.

Often, very often, this means sticking with an art practice in one medium before moving on to another “easier” medium.

If you want to achieve your full creative potential and start living your creative dreams, you really do need to honor the process of painting. All parts of the process. Especially the messy parts! And, that’s the secret to becoming your own self coach.