How can meditation feed your vision? What to do when your inner critic holds you back from your dreams? How do you stay creative during the down times?
Check out the transcript of my recent video call with Courtney F;reed, an actor, singer, entrepreneur, creativity coach and producer – or watch the full thing below. Her dramatic cat, Quinn Finnegan, also makes a few appearances.
Jess: Courtney, tell us about your current creative projects
Courtney: Right now I’m acting in a play and musical, which is the first show since having a baby, so I feel like a different person. I’m also producing a concert series called Portland Sings, each quarter.
As for coaching, I spent the last year teaching The Artist’s Way, which allows people to discover their inner artist. I love helping people on their journey, having been though it several times myself.
Jess: The Artist’s Way is such a foundational program which everyone should do. It is my bible for creativity. If you are looking to unleash your creativity and in business looking to be more innovative, I highly recommend that program. You can take the course with Courtney, with a local group, or on your own with the book as your guide.
What have you learned about the creative process throughout all of your adventures?
Courtney: The most important thing about any creative project or idea is to remove judgement from the whole equation. Listening to the judge or inner critic will stop any creative project in its tracks. It will kill anything creative. Learn to mute it early on. It won’t go away, but you can choose not to listen to it. This allows for freedom to do whatever you want. Whether or not it’s successful, what is success anyway? It’s really about having an idea and being passionate about it and working on it. When you have judgement about it you’ll never get to the next step. In my 20s I was always shining a light on parts of myself I didn’t think others would like. The older I get the less I care. It’s now about being creative and helping others discover their creativity.
Jess: I hear you saying judgement will be there but you choose not to listen – that resonates with me. I think it’s impossible to believe we’ll never have doubt or fear or periods where we aren’t sure about what we’re doing. But we just make a choice. You take back your power to make a choice to put that fear to the side or in the corner.
I also loved what you said about success. You mentioned success in a creative endeavor is putting your ideas out there. I would say that’s true for business too. How many times do you launch a product and you aren’t sure how it’s going to go? Or as an entrepreneur something like 9 out of 10 businesses never actually make it. And does that mean the experience wasn’t valuable? No. The success is in the trying and the learning and putting things out there.
What tips do you have on how to stay creative and how you feed your own creativity?
Courtney: I remember listening to The Creative Fire by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, and I’m drawing from that work. Within creativity you don’t always have a great new idea or something inspiring you. You learn to be okay when you aren’t being creative – there are peaks and valleys. Being okay when you aren’t being fruitful doesn’t mean you aren’t growing something else. The seedlings you plant have to germinate. You can’t worry or dig up the seeds. You have to trust they are growing. A lot of people I think worry they will never have a good idea or will only have 1 good idea. Being okay during those times when you aren’t necessarily being creative is crucial.
Jess: How do you do that? I agree, there are periods of drought, destruction, crawling into the cave. How do you keep yourself sane and feeling good?
Courtney: Keep up with what you love. If you know you’re an artist and you love art, go to a museum. Or listen to music. Find what it is you love, (read a biography about Elon Musk if you’re an entrepreneur). Keep feeding that passion because you never know where you’re going to find inspiration. It could be in a forest on a walk. Not giving up on yourself as a creative person, or any person – we are all creative – is key. Keep it alive.
Jess: I love what you said about feeding your passion and finding what you love. The antidote is to keep doing what you love. Feeding it reminds me of an animal. An animal eats a meal and spends the energy then has to eat again. We don’t go running and running and never take a pause. We have to replenish ourselves. One of my friends Regi Huc, a film director, has always told me: “Passion is a pet, you have to feed it.” I’m so glad you brought up this idea of nourishing yourself and your creativity when things are stagnant. I had a low month in August, but I reminded myself this is an opportunity for me to hibernate, to feed my creativity and to get ready for the next big wave. And it happened – in September new clients arrived, stagnant projects took off in a new direction and I was able to produce more creative content like my ebook The Creative Executive coming in October.
Courtney: I felt that way when I was pregnant – not acting doesn’t mean I’m not an actor. So I kept up with The Artist’s Way because I needed that inspiration. I needed that reminder of yes, I’m still that person, I’m just not doing it right now. I’m not in action.
Jess: Yes. We get to define ourselves by more than our actions. We get to also define ourselves by our essence, by our intentions and by our inspiration. It’s a good reminder when we get so focused on title, position, accomplishments, and what we’re doing versus who we are being.
Any final reflections?
Courtney: Always keep the vision of what you want. When it comes to creativity, seeing myself doing it, being that person, is helpful. I imagine myself in the place I want to be – visualizing has been key.
Jess: As leaders we come back to the vision of creating better quality products. Or visualize yourself going in and getting the funding you need. Set the vision and keep it. I know we both do a lot of vision boards – is there any other technique you use to keep the vision strong?
Courtney: Meditation. That’s a really helpful tool for me lately. I always thought oh, I love meditation. But I never did it because I thought I didn’t need it. It’s become apparent I am a person who needs mediation. Everyone does. It’s a great tool. I now appreciate it and can tell people it’s helpful because I actually do it.
Jess: We all go through phrases where we put an arms-length between ourselves and our growth, we think we don’t need to practice, or to stay committed to our work (both personal and professional). But we all need that structure and accountability. What prompted you to finally start a meditation practice?
Courtney: I was having trouble sleeping. My mind was racing. Having a racing mind was detrimental to being in the moment; it was taking away from my experience in life. I needed time to myself. Now I use an app called Calm to keep me meditating. Have you seen it?
Jess: I have, I saw it the other day doing market research because I’m working on an Executive Sutra app.
Courtney: I like it has a timer. I use it after I stop driving before I go in somewhere, even if it’s just a few minutes. It helped me in many situations. I especially love that it reminds me to take a deep breath!
Jess: People say they don’t have time to meditate, but we all have 2 minutes in our car. Hire a coach, use Calm or other apps, or check out videos like those on YouTube Executive Sutra.
The tools are out there. You can choose not to listen to the inner critic, to find your own success, to feed your creativity, and to stay committed to your vision and meditating.
Thank you Courtney for sharing your wisdom!
Connect with Courtney at www.FreedCreativeConsulting.com