How I Create: Q&A with Coach & Author Jennifer Lee
This month I’m pleased to share our interview with Jennifer Lee, a certified coach, author and artist who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
After spending 10 years in the corporate world, working for companies such as Gap and Accenture, Lee left her position to found Artizen Coaching. She helps others pursue their passions and grow their businesses, authentically and creatively.
She’s also the author of the bestselling book The Right-Brain Business Plan: A Creative, Visual Map for Success. In it, she shares playful, unique and practical strategies and worksheets for creating a profitable business.
Below, Lee reveals the “right brain boosters” she includes in her daily routine; the artful challenge she’s been doing since 2007 to cultivate creativity; her antidotes to jealousy and perfectionism, her creativity killers; her best advice to readers; and much, much more.
1. Do you incorporate creativity-boosting activities into your daily routine? If so, what activities do you do?
I find simple and easy ways to incorporate what I call “right-brain boosters” into my everyday. In the morning I write in my journal for a bit just to clear my head and jot down ideas.
I love going for hikes in the woods with my dog — I get flashes of inspiration when I’m out in nature and moving. When the weather is nice, I’ll eat my lunch outside in my backyard, and I’ll usually get a fresh perspective on something I’ve been working on.
I’m such a visual person, that I also make it a point to have inspiring images and vision boards around me, especially in my workspace. They help keep me connected to my big vision and what I want to create in my work and life.
And, of course, doodling with fun, colorful pens helps to get my creative juices flowing.
2. What are your inspirations for your work?
One of my biggest sources of inspiration is seeing other creative souls doing their creative work and going after their big dreams. Surrounding myself with kindred spirits who are sharing their creative gifts helps to empower me to do the same and to stretch myself.
My core values are another source of inspiration in my work. They help to ground me in what’s most important and meaningful to me. In particular, my values of creativity, uniqueness, self-expression, authenticity, beauty, grace, connection, fun, and playfulness show up in my creative business and infuse my work.
3. There are many culprits that can crush creativity, such as distractions, self-doubt and fear of failure. What tends to stand in the way of your creativity?
It’s a natural part of the creative process to encounter challenges and criticism (which are usually self-imposed, ha!). The key is being able to move through these obstacles so that you can keep on creating. As much as I hate to admit it, two of my top creativity killers are jealousy and perfectionism.
Jealousy is not very becoming and can put me in a funk when I let it get the better of me. But usually the trigger is just hinting at a desire I hadn’t yet realized so I pay attention to what it might be pointing me to.
Perfectionism can keep me from moving forward because I’m worried about things not being right or not looking good. I can spend too much time making something just so when I could’ve been moving on to the next thing. And of course I experience bouts of self-doubt, especially when I’m trying something new or taking bold steps toward my big dreams.
4. How do you overcome these obstacles?
I get caught in jealousy’s grip when I’m focusing on what I don’t have so an antidote for that is to acknowledge what I do have, what’s working, and what I’m grateful for. It’s a great way to help put my own progress in perspective.
I remind myself that I have something uniquely me to offer and that I am going at my own pace. Plus, by acknowledging a hidden desire, I can start taking steps toward a new goal I’ve identified.
The best antidote I’ve found for perfectionism is connecting back to what I’ve learned through intuitive painting. With intuitive painting you just let the brush move and you let go of things making sense or looking good.
Intuitive painting has been a great teacher for me to embrace the mess, the ugly, and the nonsensical and to allow myself to just be in the process. When I find myself paralyzed with perfectionism in my creative work, I remind myself to “trust the brush” so to speak and that everything is part of the process.
5. What are some of your favorite resources on creativity?
Here are some my favorite creativity books:
- A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink
- Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
- Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
- What It Is and Picture This by Lynda Barry
- Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper and Make Your Creative Dreams Real by SARK
- The Creativity Book by Eric Maisel
I’m also a huge fan of the Art Every Day Month challenge hosted by my dear friend Leah Piken Kolidas every November. I’ve participated annually since 2007 and each time I discover new insights and surprise myself with what I’m able to create. Plus, it’s just great to know that you’re doing your creative practice alongside a whole community of other kindred spirits.
6. What is your favorite way to get your creative juices flowing?
My favorite way to get my creative juices flowing is to simply start moving — whether that be putting pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, or picking up a paintbrush, a pair of scissors or a glue stick, or taking a photo on my iPhone. By just taking one small action and not worrying about the outcome, I gain momentum that usually overflows into other aspects of my life.
7. What’s your advice for readers on cultivating creativity?
The best advice I can give is to keep things simple and easy that way you’re bound to do more of it! For starters, give yourself permission to have white space on your calendar.
We are so busy rushing to the next thing or burying our head in our smartphones or laptops that we don’t give ourselves time to just be and to pay attention to our intuition. By carving out quiet time just for you, you’ll be able to slow down and listen to what your inner muse is whispering to you.
Next, pay attention to what makes you come alive and do more of that — whether that means doing more dancing, trying a new recipe, going on an adventure, or whatever it is that makes your heart sing.
And finally, find ways to express yourself. You’ll inspire yourself and others when you share your creativity in whatever form it takes.
8. Anything else you’d like readers to know about creativity?
I believe that everyone is creative and that your unique expression of creativity can be a source of tremendous joy. Honor your intuition, and let your creativity shine through!
Tartakovsky, M. (2014). How I Create: Q&A with Coach & Author Jennifer Lee. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 25, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/01/12/how-i-create-qa-with-coach-author-jennifer-lee/