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Coaching the Artist Within: Advice for Writers, Actors, Visual Artists, and Musicians from America's Foremost Creativity Coach

Coaching the Artist Within: Advice for Writers, Actors, Visual Artists, and Musicians from America's Foremost Creativity Coach

Автором Eric Maisel

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Coaching the Artist Within: Advice for Writers, Actors, Visual Artists, and Musicians from America's Foremost Creativity Coach

Автором Eric Maisel

4/5 (37 оценки)
255 pages
3 hours
Sep 24, 2010


Have you ever wished you had a professional coach who could encourage your creative pursuits, help structure your efforts, and cheer you on?

Coaching the Artist Within is the first book to explain the techniques that creativity coaches use to help their clients survive and thrive in the arts. Designed to help any person become more creative, this book offers a complete program for developing the habits that make creating an everyday routine. The book’s twelve lessons and numerous exercises are at once inspiring, practical, and fun. To spice up the lessons, Eric Maisel shares anecdotes about his clients, including painters, actors, screenwriters, novelists, dancers, and poets. Best of all, Coaching the Artist Within will teach you to be your own coach, and the results will transform your relationship with the creative process.

Sep 24, 2010

Об авторе

Eric Maisel, Ph.D., is the author of more than 50 books in the areas of creativity, psychology, coaching, mental health, and cultural trends. He is a psychotherapist and the founder of the creativity coach profession, regularly working with lawyers, doctors, scientists, writers, painters, businesspeople, and folks from every walk of life. They include folks settled in a profession as well as folks struggling to find an outlet for their intelligence and looking for work that will allow them to be as smart as they are. They include individuals who are successful in their careers and those who, because of the realities of the marketplace, struggle to achieve success. And through his books, they could include you. Sought after as an expert in his field, Dr. Maisel regularly contributes to Mad in America, writes a monthly print column for Professional Artist Magazine, and writes the "Rethinking Mental Health" blog for Psychology Today. He has been the keynote speaker at a many conferences and leads Deep Writing workshops worldwide. Dr. Maisel currently resides in Walnut Creek, California. Visit him at www.ericmaisel.com.

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Coaching the Artist Within - Eric Maisel




The ability to effectively coach yourself hinges on your having enough space to positively influence yourself, to openly communicate with yourself, to carefully monitor yourself, and to regularly chat with yourself. This mindful and ultimately courageous way of being requires that you get some distance from yourself, becoming a witness to your own life, birthing someone who compassionately but unflinchingly notices your antics and your defensive maneuvers and who, from the vantage point of an observer who has a little cultivated distance, motivates you, congratulates you, chides you when you need chiding, and loves you when you need loving.

This is the first skill we’ll practice, separating yourself into two parts, your ordinary self (with which you are very familiar) and your inner creativity coach (which may prove a revelation). To that end, please try your hand at the following exercise.


Get two kitchen chairs and position them so that they are facing each other. You are about to have a chat with yourself. When you sit in chair one you are going to be you. When you sit in chair two you are going to be your inner creativity coach. It’s as simple as that. Pick an issue that’s been on your mind such as:

•   not finishing your novel

•   hating your day job but seeing no way out

•   having doubts about your paintings’ subject matter

•   wanting to perform but suffering from performance anxiety

•   tackling your anorexia

•   being deeply, pervasively bored

•   wanting to make documentary films but not feeling up to the challenge

I think you can see that this first step is magnificent and profound — finding the courage to confess to a real problem. We do this only rarely. We may suffer the fleeting thought I am not finishing my novel fifty times a day without once stopping to acknowledge or confess to the problem. We refuse to stop because we believe that stopping would make us incredibly anxious and ultimately result in a blow to our self-esteem.

We fear that if we stopped to confess we would drown in despair and self-loathing. So we needle and belittle ourselves while simultaneously doing nothing to solve the problem. What we must do is to fearlessly acknowledge the problem. This is what you do in chair one. You sit there and say to your coach, I am not working on my novel. There. I’ve said it.

Then you move to chair two and play the role of coach. What do you reply as your own coach? It can be something in the spirit of inquiry, something obvious like, Why aren’t you writing? You claim that your novel is damned important to you, so what’s going on? This inquiry is a vital second step in the process. You-as-coachare interested in the why of the matter, just as an inventor is interested in knowing what filament works best in a lightbulb. You sit the reprepared to figure out what’s going on. You are going to bring everything you know about human nature and the realities of living to the encounter for the sake of getting to the bottom of the matter and finding a way out.

Now you return to chair one, since a question is pending. Reseated in chair one, you mutter, Why? Because the novel is shit. Now you must return to chair two instantly! If you don’t, you’ll wallow in that characterization, hate yourself and your novel, and be at exactly the same place you usually find yourself, paralyzed and without hope.

Back in chair two you continue: So you say it’s no good. First we need to figure out what that means. Is the novel’s conception faulty? Is it really as boring and undramatic as you fear? Or does it just need more drafts and revisions? Golly, we certainly know how many revisions a novel might require! Have we forgotten that? — or do we think that we should be spared the task of revising? Or is it that it must be radically redone? — yes, I know how much work that would be! First of all, is your appraisal even correct? Do we need to show bits of it to Mike and Jane and see what other people think? We’ve certainly been avoiding doing that. What do you think?

You can see that the basic requirements for becoming a coach are courage and common sense. As your own coach you ask yourself the most obvious questions and then try to answer them. You enter into real dialogue, you scratch your head, you try things out, you bat the issue back and forth. Virtually no one does this, even though it is clearly one of the best ways to proceed How many times have you entered into real dialogue with the part of you that could coach you out of your difficulties? Today, if you are willing to do this exercise, the answer is, at least once.

Continue moving between the two chairs until you can honestly say that you’ve faithfully examined the issue you broached. Let an hour or two pass and then try the exercise again, this time without the chairs. Present an issue to your coach and coach yourself to an answer. Begin an everlasting coaching partnership with this simple exercise.

When you can’t step away from yourself to observe, when you are boxed into yourself, your sight is myopic and your thinking repetitive and stereotypic. You can’t see answers; in fact, you can’t even see questions. Those thoughts and behaviors that do not serve you — calling yourself bad names, not creating, wresting illusory control by bingeing and purging or running marathons — become the only thoughts and behaviors available to you. You become a one-note wonder and the largeness of the universe cannot manifest itself in you. In this very common state you can’t carry on a simple conversation with yourself, a conversation that might begin, Eric, you haven’t been writing recently. Let’s chat about that without getting all anxious and defensive.

Acquiring this coach-inside, this compassionate witness, this round-the-clock friendly companion and taskmaster, is important beyond reckoning. Without this coach-inside, you are three-quarters blind. You make decisions only because you are feeling anxious and need to decide something. You spend years neither articulating nor fulfilling your life mission. You remain stubbornly uncoachable, someone who takes pride in his or her own small, faulty ways of doing things. It is one thing to reject the coaching of others — that can certainly be wise. But to reject your own counsel? That has to be very close to cowardice.

The first self-coaching skill you must acquire is the willingness to bravely become your own coach. If you are not willing to take a radical new stance, to have conversations with yourself rather than shutting your mind to your own good thoughts — out of fear, doubt, and anxiety — you will not be able to master the other eleven skills I want to teach you. You don’t need to take a formal coaching course — you already know everything you need to know. What you need is the willingness to coach

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  • (5/5)
    There is no greater Creativity Coach than Eric Maisel, who understands that we are all our own reasons for not being more productive. Eric is an accomplished and revered psychiatrist, and offers real solutions and activities to help us stay on our best behavior. His centering exercise aids me at my worst of times...but it only works because I refuse not to make meaning in my life due to fear. Eric taught me that!
  • (1/5)
    The author mostly talks about how great he is at coaching other people. However, he speaks relatively little about how we can coach ourselves. I was disappointed by this book.
  • (5/5)
    Great advice!
  • (1/5)
    Review reflects the abridged version!

    I was expecting a Ya-Ya Sisterhood kind of story about four sisters forced to spend 3 months together at the family cottage. It started out that way, then suddenly became a cheesy romance. Horrible abridgement: for most of the middle the sisters are barely mentioned as the plot focusses on the romance (that had no real surprises). Characters had conflicting characteristics, random events (like finding two dead bodies and moving them to a park???). It started off fine, but then got ridiculous.