The Value of Appreciation

We’re almost a dozen days into the 30-Day Creativity Challenge on the Inner Guidebook Facebook page, and it’s been a blast!

We have a community of creatives, who have a safe place to share their work publicly, and give and receive appreciation within the group.

Multi-colored markers

There are many multi-talented folks posting photos of their original artwork, essays, photography, poems, tie-dye, fabric screen prints, flower arrangements, delicious meals, and many other creative projects.

It’s been wonderful for me to wake up and know that some sort of a creative project is in store for me that day. And I’m not creating in a void; there’s a group of other creative people who want to see what I’m going to post. It’s motivating!

I have fun checking in throughout the day, to see what others are posting. It’s inspiring to see so many original ideas and talent!

I feel more open and connected when I’m appreciating other people’s creative gifts, and I feel more valued when other people appreciate mine. And I feel grateful and honored that so many people are participating and enjoying the process.

Have a wonderful week, and go forth and create!

How to Develop Your Creative Practice

If you’re having trouble developing a creative practice that works for you, consider your creative space, how you use your time, what support you have, and your commitment to your creative expression.


You need space to create. Whether that’s your own studio space, a shared studio, a writing room, or a coffee shop, depends on your needs and resources.

What is your creative space like? Are you able to spread out if you need to? Do you have the right stimulation to support your creative process? How is the lighting? Sometimes we adapt to circumstances that we can easily change. Are there any changes you need to make?

Of course, dedicated space is more than just the area needed to create your art: it includes your inner space. Your mind needs to be uncluttered, without distractions.

To help focus, some artists develop rituals. A thoughtful ritual can turn your attention from the every-day world to the sacred space where you connect to your creative muse. It grounds and centers you in the creative work you are about to do.

Candle on desk

For example, I like to light a candle before I write. A lit candle is a beautiful metaphor for the creative spark and a visual reminder that I am doing my creative practice.

If you don’t have a ritual, what can you do to focus on the present, and not on your to-do list?

Consider playing with this. Just do whatever works for you!


Time; it seems like there’s never enough, yet it’s all we have.

Clock face with wavy distortion

We experience time differently depending on how we focus on it. When you’re busy, time seems to move quickly because you’re focused on what you’re doing. But when you don’t have much to do, time can seem to stretch out like taffy.

You don’t really have more time or less time, depending on how busy you are. It’s really about prioritizing what you do in the time you have.

So if you’re not painting, or singing, or making pottery as much as you want, why aren’t you? What priority do you give your creative expression? What are you doing instead that you can put lower on your list, at least some of the time?


We all need some kind of support, such as:

  • Inspiration—The invisible breath of life that pours into you, filling you with energy and ideas.
  • Encouragement—Allies who champion your efforts.
    People catching woman in air
  • Accountability—Allies who hold you accountable for deadlines you promise to meet.
  • Routines—Daily habits that form the architecture of your days that include creative time.
  • Self-care—What you need to do for yourself, to refill your own well.

What support are you lacking? Do you ask for help when you need it? How can you get the support you need?


You can have the ideal space, time, and support to do creative work, but if you don’t pick up the brush, or the pen, or the guitar, nothing happens. You have to show up and do the work.

(And if you “can’t find” the space, you “don’t have” the time, or you “need more” support, take a deeper look at your commitment to express your creative gifts. Commitment drives you to make the changes necessary to create the space, reprioritize, and ask for help.)

To create—in some way—is a central part of being alive. So if you’re not creating, that’s a huge loss for you, and for those you would touch with your art. We need to read what you have to say, and see what you want to reveal, and experience what only your music can make us feel.


If you’re not feeling committed enough, re-focus on why you have your creative dream. Why does it matter to you? What is important about what you have to express? How will you feel if you never realize your creative dream?

Remember to simply appreciate your gifts. Be grateful for what you can bring to the world!

Here Be Dragons

Edge of the Earth

The phrase “here be dragons” warns of dangers in exploring the unknown. In medieval times, map makers sometimes included drawings of dragons or sea monsters in uncharted areas. Or they imagined sailing off the edge of the known world.

Exploring your own uncharted creativity can sometimes feel like peering over the edge of the abyss. Facing a blank canvas, paint brush in hand, or a white sheet of paper—full of undiscovered possibility—can be intimidating, but it can also be lot of fun!

I like to think of it as exploring your own inner Galapagos, full of the wisdom of ancient tortoises, the beauty of red flowers, the quirky surprise of blue-legged birds, the vista of the sea. And of course, the dragon-like iguanas, swimming and diving in the surf.

Bird with blue legs and feet

The Galapagos
bird with the delightfully goofy name “blue-footed booby.”

How are the Galapagos islands similar to the unexplored creative parts of yourself? While the plants and animals were cut off from the rest of the world, they still developed in their own unique ways. Your inner life is a rich world waiting to be discovered—by yourself, and those you share your vision with.

When I was in my twenties, I began making my living in a technical field. But I drew and doodled all the time, especially in meetings. I needed to make shapes and play with color.

And when I made the time to write creatively, the process felt like breathing to me. Writing was so essential to my being that when I had to stop to do something else, it was extremely painful.

After a while, I wrote less and less, because the of way I felt each time I had to stop. Each time, it felt like I was leaving a part of myself behind. After a while, I lost faith that I could live a creative life. It seemed there was nothing for me beyond the edge of simple survival.

But I knew I had something deep within me that needed expression. And I was afraid that I would lose my creative gifts if I didn’t use them. So I began the process of reclaiming them.

This is what I’ve learned: when you put off developing a part of yourself, for whatever reason, it is not gone. Like a diver searching for abalone, you can find it and bring it back up into the light. And everything you are, all that you have experienced, is part of your creative vision. You don’t lose that; it makes what you do now and in the future all the richer.

So find your inner blue legs, your gliding soul, your unique vision, and express it. The world needs your aesthetic wisdom.

What creative parts of yourself have you left undeveloped, and waiting for you to invite them back into your life?