Money? Who needs money?

“I cannot afford to waste my time making money.”–Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz

Creativity TEST
Taz made this cool meme from a creativity test in the book.

I’m speaking tomorrow at Marc Allen’s Summer Writing Workshop.  To prepare, I re-read my 2017 book, Art & Soul, Reloaded. It was Taz’s favorite of my 20 books and, in fact, I dedicated it to: “Taz, the most creative person I know.”

One of the sections details the many myths about being a writer, the first of which seemed like a fitting excerpt for a rainy Monday morning. Enjoy!

I am forever grateful I never ran across the famous French novel Scènes de la vie de Bohème by Henri Murger.

I’d have probably loved the novel that was wildly popular in the mid-19th century. Revolving around a group of impoverished artists who lived in the bohemian quarter of Paris, this bestseller spawned Giacomo Puccini’s 1895 opera La Bohème and is widely credited as being the catalyst for the now-household term starving artist. Like Rocky and Bullwinkle, pancakes and syrup, the words starving and artist have been joined at the hip ever since. How many posters have you seen for starving artist shows or starving artist sales?

But it’s an exceedingly dangerous belief for any artist to subscribe. And it’s the first of our list to meet the chopping block. Using these words, even as a joke, perpetuates an energy field that does none of us any good. It cements an antiquated belief that (a) you can’t make art without money (so untrue, it’s preposterous), and (b) if you’re an artist, you’ll always be broke.

Luckily for me, I didn’t buy either maxim.

I was naïve enough to believe I could make a living as a writer. Without a trust fund. Without a bunch of savings in the bank. Without really anything but my own fool imagination.

You might have noticed my last name is not Rockefeller. Not only did I grow up with a glaring lack of silver spoons, but my father was a poorly paid Methodist minister in a tiny town in Kansas.

It was very clear to me that if I was going to reach my dream of being an author, of inspiring the masses with my words, I would have to rely on a different kind of capital. I would have to amass creative capital.

This unique retirement plan has been my saving grace, especially since I didn’t fare exceptionally well in the ranks of corporate America. Even after securing a college degree, my one concession to the normal paradigm, I bristled at thoughts of a “real job.” Even a semicorporate job (a theme park that, at the time, was owned by Lamar Hunt, the guy who owned the Kansas City Chiefs) frowned on my choice of footwear and my “let’s throw it out there and see what happens” attitude.

I’ve never felt the need for surveys, market research, and prescribed plans that, sure, might work for someone, but offer no guarantees for me. I prefer traipsing to the well of the unknown, the river of infinite potentiality, the field of the brand-new.

That’s not to say I always believed in myself. That would be like saying van Gogh didn’t suffer mental illness.

But between bouts of lying in bed and staring at my ceiling fan, I found the wherewithal to believe I could create work that someone might enjoy. Between thoughts of unworthiness and self-pity, I believed I could devise creative capital with nothing but a good idea.

I was able to self-publish not one, but two books. I put them out there even though I was a single mom with a three-year-old (for the first one) and a seven-year-old (during the production of the second one).

It’s one thing to call myself a freelance writer when it was just me, sharing homes with friends, trotting around the globe. But when I became a parent, it was expected I would settle down, be realistic, get a real job.

I am very grateful I didn’t listen to the conventional paradigm.

Because here’s the thing. You don’t need money to be an artist. You need but one thing. Persistence to keep getting up off the floor where you sometimes lie (or at least I did) with your face pressed against the cold concrete, moaning, “What was I thinking?” You just keep getting up and taking the next step.

When you have no budget, you’re forced to get creative. You have to find new and interesting ways to get things done. Like collaborating with others, like trading services.

Money offers a leg up, but it’s far from imperative. #222 Forever

Pam Grout is the author of 20 books including E-Squared, E-Cubed, Thank & Grow Rich and her latest book, The Course in Miracles Experiment: A Starter Kit for Rewiring Your Mind (And Therefore Your World).

Be radical: choose to inject surprise, fun and outrageousness into your day

“There’s power in looking silly. And not caring that you do.”—Amy Poehler

“He actually caught himself saying things like “Yippee,” as he pranced ridiculously round the house.” ― Douglas Adams thrift store x2

In my new book, Art & Soul, Reloaded, I offer what I call, Zumba for the Soul. These fun, quirky activities, add-on’s to the weekly projects, came straight off a big sheet of butcher block paper I taped to the door of my basement office when my daughter Taz was four.

Recognizing the weighty assignment of being a single parent, I was determined to do a good job raising her. But at the same time, I didn’t want to surrender my free spirit. So on the door-long piece of paper, I magic-markered ideas I could undertake to keep my mojo flowing.

A reviewer on Amazon recently called them silly stunts. And she’s right. They are, for the most part, silly.

Taking your sketchbook to the park, dancing to the bathroom or making a sock money are not listed on too many grownups’ to-do lists. Most would consider such “silly stunts” a ridiculous waste of time.

But are they?

A majority of the adults in this country are bored, lonely and afraid. They’re literally wallowing in rules, in old miserable paradigms. They have forgotten how to have fun.

In fact, if you really want to serve mankind, figure out a way to enjoy yourself and let people know that enjoying yourself is a good thing.

For me, silliness is an important public service.

So today, after one of my possibility posses, I enlisted my friend, Rhonda, to join me in my Zumba practice. You may remember Rhonda’s nickname—Never Say No to Fun Rhonda. I knew she would be the perfect co-conspirator.

The task? Find the most outrageous outfit you can at a Thrift Store. I think you’ll agree we were quite successful.

thrift store

thrift c3

Most of us don’t spend enough time in the silly zone. We’re too busy following rules, living in ruts. Because we think we have to. Or because we’re conditioned that way. It doesn’t even cross our mind we could try something else.

So maybe you’re not ready to overhaul your wardrobe, but the question I urge you to ask yourself: “What can you do to have a good day? How can you have a little fun?’

Not just today. But every day.

Pam Grout is the author of 19 books including E-Squared: 9 Do-it-Yourself Energy Experiments that Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality and the just-released, Art & Soul,Reloaded: A Year-Long Apprenticeship to Summon the Muses and Ignite Your Daring, Audacious, Creative Side.

Fear and insecurity, be gone! I’ve got brilliance to create.

I am quaking in my boots. I promised that in the run-up to the release of my new book, E-Squared, I’d blog every day. My publisher, Hay House, sent me a book called Platform by Michael Hyatt. In order to build momentum for a book through social media, a marketing bonanza of which even the smallest of authors can take advantage, he recommends daily blogging.

That’s thrilling and terrifying at the same time. It’s thrilling because, my gosh, I’ve wanted to be disciplined enough to write daily for as long as I’ve been able to hold a pencil. It’s the linchpin that holds a writer together—consistency, daily attendance to the muses, and well, the simple act of applying the old rear end to the chair. I’ve used it countless times when writing the 16 books that have my name on them. But, when I’m not on assignment or not being expected by some editor to deliver the goods, I don’t always write. I turn off the pipeline to my muses. Somehow I expect them to beat me over the head with whatever it is they want me to say. Even though I know the only way to truly call yourself a writer is to write.

It’s hard to admit this. One of my books is, in fact, about the importance of doing just that. Art and Soul, one of my all time favorites, is about showing up for the muses, day after day. Yet, for the last few years, I faithfully show up, alright, but only when editors give me deadlines, only when I need to add heft to my checking account.

That’s why I’m terrified. Blogging every day feels like streaking in front of a crowded arena. Granted, my subscriber list so far amounts to what, my mom and a couple friends?, but, if I do this right, I hope to create a following. That’s a scary thing to say.

Why would anyone want to follow me? Who am I to command respect? Yes, I suffer massive insecurity even though I’m what the world might call a successful writer. I’ve sold and written 16 books. I’ve been on big TV talk shows. I write for the kind of national magazine you find in dentists’ offices. Yet, I’m still terrified.

But when was terror ever a decent reason to cut off your brilliance? All terror really means is you’re listening to the wrong voice. In everyone’s head, there are always two voices. There’s the voice of your true calling, your magnificence, if you will.

And then there’s the imposter, the voice I like to call my Inner Salieri. If you saw the 1984 film, Amadeus, you know all about Antonio Salieri, a Venetian composer and director of the Hapsburg Opera. In the film, made from the 1979 play of the same name, Salieri was intensely jealous of Mozart. He recognized the young composer’s artistic gift and did everything he could to sabotage him. That’s why I call the voice that continually tries to defile every noble attempt at creating art my “Inner Salieri.” It’s the voice that puts a roadblock between me and everything the higher forces are asking me to do. In my opinion, it’s the root cause of most depression and unhappiness. It’s a tricky bastard.

That’s why arming myself against my Inner Salieri is a day-by-day process, one that can only succeed with discipline. One that can only succeed by showing up day after day on this blog, revealing my thoughts and opening up the trench coat to the naked real me inside.