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Re-Entering a Project with Beth Pickens



Beth Pickens is a Los Angeles-based consultant for artists and arts organizations and the author of Make Your Art No Matter What: Moving Beyond Creative Hurdles (Chronicle Books, 2021) and Your Art Will Save Your Life (Feminist Press, 2018).  To offer your own advice, call Zak @ 844-935-BEST


TRANSCRIPT:

ZAK: I love a specialist. That's how I'd describe Beth Pickens.

BETH: So, I essentially counsel artists. I went to school to be a therapist. I only work with artists and I've been talking recently with artists about how to re-enter a project or something that you have been avoiding for a long time. And you have a lot of fear about. It's a thing that comes up for artists when somebody has like a durational project, a book or an album, or some big thing that they're doing. Sometimes, you know, after the honeymoon phase wears off, it can be hard to sustain that marathon nature to keep going through it. Especially if you don't have somebody waiting for it, if you don't have a deadline or accountability. Um, and so, what will happen is a person maybe will retreat from the long durational project. And then it will start to build into something in their mind that they become afraid of, but they can't get back to, and it becomes this big mental block about, I want to finish that. I'm afraid of it. I don't know how. It's impossible. It becomes this sort of cycle of self-defeat. And so I will often work with clients to help them re-enter, kind of tiptoe back into the water of a big project that they've lost the honeymoon limerence feelings for, but they really are committed to.

ZAK: How do you tip toe back?

BETH: We start really simple. You start with just like 15, 20 minutes. Just planning to be in the project for 15 or 20 minutes. And I'll often recommend that people actually just kind of go into the world they're creating and turn the lights on. So if it's a manuscript, for example, or if it's a body of music to go first and just inhabit it, read everything they have. listen to everything that they have and do that about four or five times, just for 15 minute increments, maybe once a week, maybe a few times a week, to first just to re-inhabit the universe and let it come alive in your subconscious. Because so often for a big project, the solutions that artists come up with happen when they're not sitting in front of the computer, when they're in the midst of it, it's like when they're on a walk, when they're washing the dishes, when they're doing something else, they can have an idea of, this is where I can go next. Not necessarily a breakthrough, it doesn't have to be that big, but it can be just an indication of this is a next step. So we start with really tiny increments and then celebrating that as an achievement, like telling an artist friend right before you do it and then telling them right after you do it and celebrating, just re-entering, tip-toeing back into the water. And that sort of breaks the myth that seal of I can't do it. It's impossible. There's no way back in. It's just by slowly reentering and not doing it with a ton of pressure that I have to go in and finish it or figure it out. Cause I think that's not realistic. And it's a mean thing to expect of oneself.

ZAK: Yeah. I love this two-part process.

BETH: Oh yeah. Having somebody outside be like that big congratulations. You can do it again, but for today you're done. You don't have to do that again today.

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