letting yourself be generative

While writing this post, there are two ways I can feel. One is to feel free, completely unhinged, and let my fingers type like a mad woman. Like I'm doing now. The other is to feel tentative, hesitant, a little scared, and to question whether I'm good enough to write this post or if I have anything worth saying. I live there a lot too. Most of us live in this realm – the realm of the inner critic.

The inner critic comes around when we're trying to be generative and creative. The inner critic likes to prevent us from feeling really free and crazy, because we might get hurt. The inner critic whispers... This isn't very good. You haven't written in ages. You should just go back to your spreadsheets. Who will listen to this? Who will care? This is shit. Sometimes the inner critic sounds like a harmless, helpful editor who crashes the party a little too early. This sentence doesn't sound right. This period doesn't go here. You must elevate your diction.

Whatever costume or degree of severity your inner critic takes on, she is stopping you from being generative, from letting loose, from letting the subconscious spew out the really good stuff. The stuff that matters.

Great art emerges from the subconscious. It doesn't emerge from the pre-frontal cortex (unless it's super intellectual or conceptual). Great art emerges from a lack of control... from taking your bra off. And how impossible it feels to let ourselves live in that. Like right now, I'm writing forward with fervor and find myself thinking, This must sound nuts. 'Taking your bra off,' really!? but I keep going. I keep writing. I keep digging for the juice.

And the truth is: I rarely live on this island. The island of the wild, free, unhinged kind of creativity that makes you feel alive, the way you did as a child. Because it's scary as fuck! It feels like you don't have the ground below you. It feels like you're falling, falling, falling...

It helps to start with a spark. The spark for this post was actually a client (as is often the case, thank you honeys), who mentioned she wanted to write creatively, but as she faced the blank page all she could hear was her inner critic. As she wrote word after word, her inner critic consumed her thoughts. In fact, all she could do was write out the thoughts of her inner critic as they emerged, getting through a lot of her gunk.

It's easy to chalk this up as fear – easy to say that fear, disguised as perfectionism and comparison, was her problem. But it's also a design problem. Thank Goddess for design! The blank page was far too wide. She needed a spark.

What's a spark? A spark is a prompt from which the imagination flies loose. In our session, the prompt we tried was "carrot," and we came up with 20 different images about a carrot. Some of them were outrageous (we had a good laugh): Eating a carrot... became putting a carrot in a museum in the future because it's so valuable and rare. Chopping a carrot... became a man putting a wedding ring on a carrot and asking his wife to marry him. Grating a carrot... became making a fence of carrots. 

All these quirky scenarios kept unfolding. We were being generative. We were being free. We were giggling like little girls. Like mad little girls! How sweet it felt. How rich and beautiful. How rarely we come here, to drink from our own imaginations, our own crazy instincts. How rarely we come here, to feel our bones dance. To feel the cackle of our aliveness. Can you feel it? When you're there?

It starts with the spark and a quiet inner critic. Those are the two essential ingredients. Actually, scratch that. The inner critic doesn't need to be quiet, but it does need to be temporarily suspended.  The inner critic needs to be gently invited to go play somewhere else for now. Come back later please, when we need sharp analysis and editing. But for now, the artist is here. And she's playing like a sorceress, image after image.

And she has learned to trust that all this madness is going somewhere... that it belongs somewhere. Even if it doesn't make any sense for the moment, it will become something worthwhile. That's what it means to be unhinged – to let yourself go crazy and loose, to let yourself sing from the bottom of your belly and find a melody.

I can't think of another time of feeling so alive. Conspiring with spirit. Being in conversation with my imagination, my sensuality, my creativity... Can you? Tell me. 

I want to live here more often. Don't you?

I'd love to know. 

Your friend on the path,

Majo

Underwhelmed at work?

Many women come to me because their day jobs don’t feel creative or meaningful enough. They spend quite a bit of time on production, tech, management, or analytical thinking. They have a passion for art, women’s issues, wellness, travel, culture, nature, something besides the way they make money right now. Their true passions, however, feel impractical...like they could never pay rent.

If you’re in this situation, you’re really lucky. A paycheck gives you the mental security blanket to create in peace. It’s an exciting time – something I like to call “the liminal space.” The key is to resist your desire to come home after work and numb yourself.

In my experience working with hundreds of women, the kind of after-work exhaustion that leads to numbing comes from Good Girl programming: the inability to say “no,” overworking, controlling, proving, and scarcity-driven behaviors. When you spend so much time being “unchill” at work, no wonder you want to come home and splatter yourself on the couch and just “chill.” The pendulum swings in the other direction! The reason you don’t create has nothing to do with a lack of time, but your own resistance and Good Girl tendencies.

You, my dear, might be in this tender liminal space and feeling a bit stuck. You know you have to work to pay the bills, but you crave change and bravery. Something more. Some fresh air.  

I want to share with you the three phases I take every client through to some degree to build creative confidence and get creating outside of their job. I’ll also share the Good Girl blocks specifically associated with each phase. This is new content I’ve never shared before. Fresh off the boat!

Ready?

Phase I: Express

In the first phase, a woman must begin creating without being “precious” about her work. She must let go of the idea that she is somehow being bad by creating, that she should be spending her time doing something more practical. She must set healthy boundaries at work so she can protect her energy and rituals. She must definitely not get on Instagram and go down a comparison spiral (unless she is going to deliberately take someone else’s work as inspiration and build on it in her own way).

Good Girl Blocks

  • Perfectionism
  • Comparison
  • Lack of Boundaries
  • Low Energy
  • Guilt of Pleasure  

Phase II: Show

In this phase, a woman no longer hides behind closed doors, but begins to show her work. For some women who went to design or art school, showing your work might be associated with critiques. But we’re not in school anymore, we’re in life. You let go of the desire to be perfect and show yourself as messy and figuring it out like the rest of the world. You celebrate mistakes. You overcome your fear of judgment and whether your friends from high school will think it’s random that you’re making abstract yarn paintings. This is a wonderful phase where you learn who most resonates with your work, and who least resonates too!

Good Girl Blocks

  • Fear of judgment
  • Fear of being messy or “wrong”
  • Personalizing feedback
  • Approval-seeking

Phase III: Exchange

After a woman has granted herself permission to create and show her work, there’s the option to go deeper. In the exchange phase, she offers her creative work to someone in exchange for some kind of value – time, money, skills, or other creative work. Many women can get stuck here – especially if they feel like trading or selling their creativity is sleazy. They fear it’s not good enough and that nobody will want it even before offering it! I think of trading as “training wheels” when women can’t leap to selling, since selling can feel too uncomfortable and the inner Good Girl hates it. But I can’t even describe the first day someone paid me for coaching. It was the first money I earned that didn’t come from some authority figure like a parent, boss or employer, but came from me giving value to someone directly. One of the most empowering days of my life. And it didn’t even matter that it was only $25.

Good Girl Blocks

  • Fear of rejection
  • Following the Rules
  • Attachment to outcomes
  • Lack of Worthiness and Value
  • Scarcity Mentality
  • Guilt of Money

Reply and let me know:

  • What phase are you in? (Note: different creative projects may be in different phases).
  • Would you be interested on going through these phases with my guidance and a supportive community?

I’m playing with the idea of designing a creative confidence training specifically for women who work full time. We would overcome the Good Girl blocks above by moving through the phases and taking action together.

Reply and let me know if this strikes a chord!

Ciao bella,

Majo

P.S. And if you have something else you want help with, let me know!