Rebel Zen Creative Inspiration: Extra quirky, hold the cheese 2018-03-12T23:06:50Z WordPress Seamus Anthony <![CDATA[About my new painting, “Aloysius Sees The Light”]]> 2018-03-01T01:01:40Z 2018-02-28T11:15:36Z “Aloysius Sees The Light” is my first tangible (non-digital) artwork in 25 years. Acrylic paints on canvas. It’s quite the labour of love, quite weird, quite profound and not quite this shade of blue (there’s … Read more

The post About my new painting, “Aloysius Sees The Light” appeared first on Rebel Zen.

Aloysius Sees The Light” is my first tangible (non-digital) artwork in 25 years. Acrylic paints on canvas.

It’s quite the labour of love, quite weird, quite profound and not quite this shade of blue (there’s more green in it than this shows but taking accurate photos of real paintings is, apparently, kind of hard. Might have to get a pro in to sort that).

Here’s the story behind the painting, and the deeper meaning behind the story.

artwork by Seamus Anthony, 2018

Detail of artwork “Aloysius Sees The Light”, by me, Seamus Anthony, acrylic on canvas, 2018 – click the image to see the whole thing

Aloysius Luck is a character in an album, “Escape from Section C”, that I made some years back with three of my best friends in a band we call Zuiiza. He is the central character in that psychedelic, fever-dream arthouse, space-rock-opera of an album. In the story, which is jumbled and out of order to represent Aloysius’ mental state, Aloysius is a public servant, stressed from working in politics, who has a nervous breakdown when the woman he loves rejects him. He goes temporarily insane and winds up in mental health care.

To start with, Aloysius thinks he is a robot on an alien planet dealing with all manner of dramatic situations involving an evil mastermind, Professor Von Wiggett and his army of mindless zombie style characters, The Hungry.

Eventually we realise that Von Wiggett is actually his therapist and, slowly, slowly, Aloysius comes to understand this too. At the “end” of the story, Aloysius comes good, first in the song “Indivisible”, where he regains a sense of self and of self-empowerment, and then in the song “Aloysius Luck”. In that tune, he leaves it all behind him, driving off into the sunset to start anew.

The scene describes the moment where Aloysius, formerly head-down, obsessing about his internal world, which as you can see on the desk in front of him, is dark and complicated, suddenly looks up and is surprised to “see the light”. The light takes his breath away (represented by the butterfly) and his mind finally cracks open as the light (represented by the little yellow rectangles in his head) merge with the serious scenarios he was previously obsessing about.

The painting means a lot to me as I personally live with and through a repeating cycle of becoming drawn into a dark internal world, full of (needless) worry, stress and anxiety, only to emerge from these dark times full again with the wonder and joy of life. When the light comes calling on me, often in meditation, but sometimes just when I am looking into my children’s faces or simply walking the dog, the hours, days, weeks and months that I sometimes spend drawn into my own darkness seem incomprehensible to me, as I return to the childlike and happy-go-lucky state that I am blessed to sometimes bounce about our planet in.

A wiser man than me once told me that this is a pretty normal state of being for creative people, so as much as I would be happily never venture into the darkness again — and believe me I do try to stay up and out of it – when it does consume me, I console myself with the thought that perhaps this is the price I must pay for the fact that I can compose multi-instrument pieces if music in my mind when I am stuck in traffic, and that I get to enjoy watching inspiring words flow through my fingers seemingly of their own accord, and that now, once again, I get to play with colours and patterns and shapes to make meaning out of this odd thing we call Life.

I hope that this painting of Aloysius ends up in someone’s world. Maybe someone I don’t know, maybe my children’s. Maybe yours? Perhaps hanging on the wall in an office or bedroom, to be seen regularly and to serve as a reminder that – if we only make the effort to look up – there truly is ‘a Light and it never goes out’. It is always waiting for us to seek it out again, to be inspired and consoled and just plain cheered up.

If you didn’t already, you can go see it at the shop, where I have some other artworks for sale also.

The post About my new painting, “Aloysius Sees The Light” appeared first on Rebel Zen.

Seamus Anthony <![CDATA[Creative Inspiration: 3 Powerful Ways To Stay Motivated And Keep Your Artistic Expression Flowing]]> 2018-03-01T01:08:20Z 2018-02-28T00:19:19Z For many years I have been “making art” – writing, music and now, visual art – and I am lucky in that it is rare for my creative inspiration to run dry. When it does, … Read more

The post Creative Inspiration: 3 Powerful Ways To Stay Motivated And Keep Your Artistic Expression Flowing appeared first on Rebel Zen.

For many years I have been “making art” – writing, music and now, visual art – and I am lucky in that it is rare for my creative inspiration to run dry. When it does, I have strategies that I use to push on. Here are a few of the ways that I stay motivated and creatively inspired. They don’t always work, but they usually do, perhaps they will help you to get back into the creative flow if you are ever feeling stuck and down in the dumps about your own creative expression.

"Data Flowers", digital artwork, Feb 2018 by Seamus Anthony

“Data Flowers”, digital artwork, Feb 2018 by Seamus Anthony

1 – Remember Your Why

OK … yuck… but if you can forgive the tired n’ tacky cliche, then honestly, one of the best ways to remain motivated to create is to remember who you are and why you need to express yourself creatively.

Here’s my why: I make art because I know it makes me feel better about life and I hope that my art will make someone else feel better too. I know I feel better when I witness other people’s artistic expression. When I see/hear/read something that resonates with me, it just makes me feel better. Like a headache tablet for the soul, it soothes the existential pain. It re-connects me to my higher power, to the energy that connects us all.

It’s kind of like taking a drink.

Some of us like to drink because it moves us away from feeling like we live in separate plastic bubbles, able to talk to and see each other, but never able to truly connect. One drink (maybe two!) and we’re there: we’re connected.

We drink to re-establish the connection that we crave … but it is a false sort of connection, and it has a terrible trade off. Not just the hangovers, which do suck, but also the slow, dismal slide into increased separation. (That’s what booze does to us, if left unchecked, it actually makes the sense of separation get worse over time. Same for our other addictions: sugar, social media, cigarettes, sex, whatever – all feeding back into themselves, fueling the need for more drinks, more sugar, more “Likes”).

Creativity, however, connects us together in a healthy way, a real way, a genuine, healing way. It is not a band-aid; it is the actual skin cells regrowing and reconnecting and unifying the planet. If we could only get everyone, every single living person, all making art and/or witnessing other people’s art, then we would collectively heal and change the world.

I am an artist and an artist is a doctor for the soul.

That is my purpose.

My aim is that someone hears my song and is, even if only for a few minutes, healed.

My aim is that someone buys my art, hangs it on the wall and just before speaking to their children for the first time that day, they see it, and they feel more connected to the Great Thing That Prefers To Remain Mysterious, and because they use my art as a conduit for connection, for soul-healing, they feel better and in turn, treat their kids better and the world is a nicer place for those little ones that day.

Perhaps someone reads my words and they take a hit of Love and are encouraged to know that even if they do feel like a big old weirdo, they are not alone. Just the opposite: they are connected, loved and respected, and so they step into the world happier in themselves and able to help others to feel better too. And the world is nicer place that day. A happier, kinder, healthier place.

That is why I create. This is what the Muse is trying to do through me. This is why I must insist on making my art.

creative inspiration, detail of artwork by Seamus Anthony, 2018

Creative inspiration: detail of artwork “Aloysius Sees The Light”, by me, Seamus Anthony, acrylic on canvas, 2018 – click the image to see more and, if you want, follow me on Instagram

2- Screw Self-Imposed Constraints, Allow Your Pure Expression To Flow Unhindered

There is a saying: “creativity needs constraints”. Maybe this philosophy is useful for creative professionals who need to address certain business realities, but for the rest of us mere mortals who just want to get a creative flow happening, I think it is unhelpful.

If you’re feeling creatively stuck, then better to give yourself permission to tap into your pure creative expression and just let your Muse take you wherever it wants to go.

For example, I have wanted to make visual art for many years. As I explained in a recent post, I used to draw but when I was rejected from the only two art schools in town, I gave up on visual art altogether … for 25 years!

However, the itch to make visual art returned and grew stronger and stronger every year. But I did not allow myself to act on it. Why? I believed that this was “not my thing” so I just didn’t give myself permission to do it…

Until, about two and a half years ago, I had a particularly amazing bath…

I had the house to myself, was in an introspective mood and had just read a quote that day by Rumi, (whom I know little to nothing about):

“When I run after what I think I want,
My days are a furnace of distress and anxiety;
If I sit in my own place of patience,
What I need flows to me,
And without any pain.
From this I understand that
What I want also wants me,

There is a great secret
In this for anyone
Who can grasp it.”

For some reason this moved me a lot, so I ran a bath and sat with it and asked myself:

So … if what I ACTUALLY want also wants me, the only question is what do I REALLY want?

I wasn’t sure about this, so being in a meditative space, I asked my Higher Self and the answer came in a flash:

“My Pure Expression”

And in this moment – I just knew.

I just knew that what I have wanted, truly, all along: simply to authentically express myself through my art – be it music, visual art, writing.

“That’s it,” I thought as I sat there soaking, “My pure expression. It’s about the art, the self expression, the soul expression of my life!”

But … but …

It still took me a long time to tap into what that actually meant…

I got there eventually. That’s a story for another day perhaps but the short version is this:

Just allow yourself to be a conduit, to just create whatever the hell comes through you without self-censorship, without judgement.

For ages I would not make the music I wanted to make nor indeed any visual art at all because I was not allowing myself to be free. I was self-imposing restraints (“I make music in style X”, “I can’t really draw properly”).

It’s all bullshit. When I realised this and let it go, the music and the visual art just started to flow and doesn’t look like stopping anytime soon.

3 – Just Start: Inspiration Comes To Those Who Rock Up

This is something I bang on about a bit:

If you’re feeling frustrated about your lack creative productivity, you can’t sit around waiting for conditions to be perfect and for inspiration to strike. You just have to scratch-out some time and start…

No matter how busy you are,
No matter how tired you are,
No matter how less than perfect your working space,
No matter how noisy/hot/cold/damp/whatever,
No matter that you have a sniffle,
No matter that you can’t afford the perfect art supplies,
No matter that you don’t feel like leaving the house tonight,
No matter that you have to get up early tomorrow,
No matter that you haven’t got any creative ideas,
No matter if you feel that everything you make is shit,
No matter if you feel like it’s self-indulgent,
No matter what other people want you to do,
No matter if other people are discouraging,
No matter if you feel lazy and unmotivated,
No matter what.

Just. start.

And if you do, eventually…

…your Muse will show up.

It may take days, weeks, even months, but if you grind it out, eventually…

…inspiration will arrive.

You have two choices:

  1. Get off your arse and start making something
  2. Ignore the creative itch and fester and be miserable, resentful and depressed

Here’s the thing: whatever your chosen medium, you are a creative type, an artiste.

It’s somewhat like being an alcoholic: you can’t just stop being an alcoholic because it’s inconvenient. You can only do what needs to be done to treat the condition. Except unlike an addict, you need to KEEP doing stuff, not stop!

You NEED to create, and if you don’t … if you let the Monkey Mind talk out of it, day in day out, with the myriad excuses that pop into your head, you will only get more miserable, resentful and depressed.

So stop making excuses (and they ARE just excuses) and start making your art.



Thanks for reading: keep up with my zany creative adventures daily by following me on Instagram

The post Creative Inspiration: 3 Powerful Ways To Stay Motivated And Keep Your Artistic Expression Flowing appeared first on Rebel Zen.

Seamus Anthony <![CDATA[The Fridge Mechanic’s Guide To The Galaxy]]> 2018-02-22T23:59:52Z 2018-01-18T05:00:44Z (Or “The Art of Subtly Communicating the Non-obvious Value of Art”) Unlike my friend Paul, I would be a terrible person to phone up should you be in need of some kind of fridge repair service. … Read more

The post The Fridge Mechanic’s Guide To The Galaxy appeared first on Rebel Zen.

(Or “The Art of Subtly Communicating the Non-obvious Value of Art”)

Unlike my friend Paul, I would be a terrible person to phone up should you be in need of some kind of fridge repair service. You can see from his business page that he specialises in making your old Samsung fridge do what it is supposed to do. On the other hand, I look at fridges and what I see is a canvas going to waste. And then I start thinking about paint which, while colourful, isn’t very good at chilling that Pinot Gris you’re looking forward to imbibing.

And therein lies the artist’s dilemma: your utility is very often non-obvious.

fridge art vs. fridge repair

Whether you’re a writer, a painter, a musician or something less obvious, like a post-it note artist, (which is actually a thing, I just discovered), you’re in a way lucky, because you naturally observe the phenomena of life, the stuff that exists all around us, and you think about how you can bend and shape it into something interesting. It’s a state of mind that some people pay good money for. Everything seems trippy; like “what’s the deal with all this stuff?” trippy.

So the good news: being an artist by nature makes boring things fun. Standing at a bus stop isn’t nearly as dull when you have the capacity to begin orchestrating an avant-garde musical piece in your mind using the rhythm of passing cars on the wet road as inspiration.

The bad news: it is, to quote Oscar Wilde, in some ways, “quite useless”.

The arty brain isn’t very good at fixing fridges. It doesn’t code apps. It doesn’t formulate public policy and it sure as hell wouldn’t know how a TV works.

So are all artists useless to society then?

Of course not. If they were, my friend Jimmi wouldn’t be able to work full time painting commissioned dog portraits. And Damien Hirst (the formaldehyde shark guy from the ’90s, remember him?) would not be worth many hundreds of millions of dollars.

What I Think About When I Think About Value

People don’t give you money unless you provide some kind of value. The thing about artists as opposed to traffic management companies or your local plumber, is that the value that artists provide is not as obvious and certainly not felt as keenly as a backed-up toilet. Nobody wakes up of a morning with a burning desire to go out and buy a contemporary art installation. They do however, wake up with a burning rash and immediately hot-foot it to the local pharmacy to purchase some ointment.

I am not writing this essay to tell you how to make money making art or music or whatever. I have and do sell some creative works sometimes, but I can’t hold myself up as some Internet Art Commerce Guru (nor do I want to). But the thing that interests me is value and how it pertains to creative works. What is the value to the artist of making art? What is the value to the “consumer” of the creative works?

Here and there I witness moaning that “people don’t value art” or “nobody wants to pay for music”. However, what’s forgotten is that actually, people DO pay for art. They DO happily enrich many musicians and painters and other types of artists. But they do it when they perceive that they are receiving value in exchange. And it is not a very conscious process.

People don’t think “Wow, I get SO MUCH VALUE out of Nick Cave, his music and what he represents to me in terms of culture, life and my self-identity within those eco-systems, that I think I will exchange money for concert tickets and tell everyone in my Facebook feed about it in order to explore and promote these self-affirming concepts!” … and yet this is exactly what is happening.

On a simpler level, people don’t consciously think “If I buy a framed print of this hipster illustrator’s work that I found at a maker’s market and hang on it on my wall, my friends will witness how truly cool I am,” … but they unconsciously think that. This is where the value inherent in the creative work exists for them.

Subtly communicating non-obvious value

So, the creatives that win, on purpose or by accident, facilitate a story that person (the customer) is telling themselves about themselves that they want to tell the world.

Meanwhile, a lot creative people simply view making art in the same way a surfer might view surfing: they do it because it feels good. And that is fine … but it is does not necessarily have any value to other people. And if it doesn’t, they will see it is as “quite useless”, and thus not line your pockets with silver.

So in a way, as an artist of various flavours, I kind of feel jealous of my friend the fridge mechanic. He no doubt has many business challenges, but subtly communicating the non-obvious value of what he does to the lady whose freezer is on the blink ain’t one of them.

On the other hand, how many people can compose multi-layered, prog-rock symphonies in their minds, complete with imaginary video special effects? When it comes to the bus stops of life, I’ll take that over tapping away playing “Kwazy Cupcakes” on my phone any day.

image credit: Lost At E Minor

The post The Fridge Mechanic’s Guide To The Galaxy appeared first on Rebel Zen.

Seamus Anthony <![CDATA[The only one who can stop you is you]]> 2017-12-30T22:46:58Z 2017-12-30T22:36:15Z So last night, kids safely asleep, I drew a suitcase. First, I wiped down the kitchen table. Then I made a cup of tea. Then I got out my shiny new Christmas presents from my … Read more

The post The only one who can stop you is you appeared first on Rebel Zen.

So last night, kids safely asleep, I drew a suitcase.

Suitcase by Spirit Cow

First, I wiped down the kitchen table. Then I made a cup of tea. Then I got out my shiny new Christmas presents from my wonderful little family; some drawing pencils in various shades, an eraser, a sharpener, some pens for inking and a sweet drawing pad. Then I asked myself the Ultimate Question … 2B or not 2B?

Ha ha sorry … it’s ok I have a Dad Joke licence… fully paid up!

In truth it was scary, the clean blank pages. Imposing. But I have an idea for an art piece I want to make and the first stop was to draw a vintage suitcase, which will be part of it. I googled the topic and found one that was at the angle and of the type that I wanted, a stock image with watermarks all over it, and I propped up the ancient ipad on a book stand thing that my daughter uses to read giant fantasy tomes while eating breakfast.

I began drawing, very conscious of the tension I feel about it. That my wife, a skilled illustrator with not one but two art degrees under her belt, was hovering about pretending not to be sticky beaking over my shoulder actually made it worse, not that my hang ups are her fault. The things is, and I think I’ve written about this before, I had my confidence shattered somewhat in my own art abilities as a young man. Well actually, I allowed my confidence to be shattered. I see now that this was nobody’s doing but my own. Nobody can stop you but you and you have to take responsibility for that and stop making excuses.

But that doesn’t mean it is always easy. Here’s what happened:

As a kid I was full of confidence that I was ‘good at art’. Always one of the best in the year group. But then in Year 12, the final year of high school, the art teacher I was lumped with didn’t help much. “All men are pigs,” she once said to my face, and proceeded to sniff at and criticize my work for the course of the year while fawning over my (admittedly highly talented) then-girlfriend.

Said girlfriend and I then applied to both the art schools in Adelaide, our hometown, and she got in to both while I got into neither. I did get into acting school, which was a big deal due to the competition levels and the tiny intake, but actually, I had little interest in acting and soon left to pursue my rock star dreams.

Meanwhile, as of the day the universities rejected my art, I stopped drawing.

I was being a precious little snowflake, but I did stop and then, somehow, a quarter of a century (!!!) went by and during that time I have almost always been surrounded by visual artists, while myself desperately wanting to create art, but suffering from a massive inferiority complex about it and not making any.

But this changed recently. Something just came unblocked and I started again. A couple of weeks ago, I drew a giraffe … from a cutesy little drawing lesson video online … and then I photographed it and imported it into photoshop and started jamming with it, bending it, adding to it, filtering it. Then I drew a weird little cow character from an odd little soft toy that my daughter made me. And I added multiples of them to the giraffe image and then I emailed it to myself and then I put them through various apps on my iphone until I liked what I saw.

Blue Giraffe Mother Watching The Spirit Cows Ascend by Spirit Cow

Then I built an instagram account, and a Redbubble store, and a website, and then I made a soundtrack to go with the image and then I animated the image in photoshop so that it made a weird little video….

…and my kids watched the whole thing unfold and I hope I taught them that nobody can stop you making art, because making art is expressing yourself, it is unfolding in the sun like a flower does, like nature intended. It is revealing your pure expression to the world and nobody has the right to muffle that noise. And they actually can’t muffle it, somehow, no matter what, it can come out.

I hope that I teach them that the only one who can stop you is you.

So last night, ignoring the Monkey Mind, I drew a suitcase. It’s not a finished piece, just a study for something I have in my mind that I want to make. Looking at the drawing, I know I am not as good as I am going to get, but I also know I can make art as worthy as anybody else. So I threw it online and went to bed.

‘Nuff said.

The post The only one who can stop you is you appeared first on Rebel Zen.

Seamus Anthony <![CDATA[Music, Art, Coffee and Mistakes]]> 2017-12-30T03:10:52Z 2017-12-30T02:31:33Z tl;dr – I am turning this somewhat stalled blog into a self-indulgent, typo-ridden, criminally-under-edited, potentially-irregular, hyphen-happy journal-style blog of my continuing journey as a musician and artist. And you can’t stop me. So there. Privately, … Read more

The post Music, Art, Coffee and Mistakes appeared first on Rebel Zen.

tl;dr – I am turning this somewhat stalled blog into a self-indulgent, typo-ridden, criminally-under-edited, potentially-irregular, hyphen-happy journal-style blog of my continuing journey as a musician and artist. And you can’t stop me. So there.

Privately, I sporadically write journal-style ramblings to help me work things out. I’ve always considered (accurately) these to be unpublishable; too scrappy and irregular, not unlike their author.

Meanwhile, I have long written things – more polished and ‘value’ orientated – for public consumption, most of which I am utterly embarrassed about now. (Hey, I needed the money.)

Lately I’ve been doing neither … but over Christmas this last couple of weeks, at the various parties and gatherings, a part of me has been sitting back witnessing my mildly-to-fully-inebriated self rolling out my favourite stories about my life, in all their well-practised and undoubtedly inaccurate glory and thinking “you know, maybe you should write this stuff down”.

And, you know, maybe I should.

As well as that, I have been thinking and thinking and totally over-thinking about how to go about marketing my music and my nascent visual art and the idea of writing about it seems to make sense. (It also possibly makes no sense, but it’s ok, I am comfortable with that kind of cognitive dissonance. It potentially defines me actually: I’m nothing if not a wooly ball of contradictions getting batted around by a playfully giant kitten who clearly doesn’t realise how damn sharp its claws are.)

Further to this, much to my better half’s chagrin (however you say that), I remain resolutely, if somewhat ineffectively, ambitious, and I’d like to go forth and make something happen yet in this life and you know, ‘win’ at some stuff. Basically, I find it irritating to make music (and now, perhaps inadvisably, art) and to write words only to have a tiny, miniscule fraction of the population of the planet give a shit. Especially when I know that this is purely my failing, not as an artist but in terms of the effort I put into it. We listen to a lot of radio in our house (Triple R mainly, which is an excellent Melbourne-based public radio station) and my kids, who are still young enough to assume (mistakenly, of course) that I am a God Who Walks Amongst Men, have both independently paused thoughtfully while munching toast only to ask through a mouthful of jammy goodness: “Dad, why don’t they play your music on the radio?”

I wish I could have honestly said to them “Because they’re all jerks, my love,” or “Because I don’t care for the attention, sweetie,” but the truth was not this and so I had no option to say to them “Because I don’t try hard enough to make that happen, actually”. And given the rhetoric I spout at them along the lines of “talent and brains not being enough, nope, no sirree Bob, you have to work hard, harder than everyone else” kind of makes me feel like a bit of a hypocrite.

Which of course, is on the agenda to be fully and consciously realised by them in due course. But I would dearly love to provide them with a different failing to rub my face in, one that I am more comfortable owning. Like loving Neil Young’s Crazy Horse guitar solos way more than is probably healthy, par example. Or my absolute comfort at telling them in no uncertain terms to tidy up all of the things while resolutely making no such effort myself.

So that’s what I am doing this year (technically next year; thought I’d get a head start).

What the “that” is that I am doing is probably not very clear to you, which is because it is not very clear to me. However, writing tends to help me clear up the old noggin somewhat, so with any luck typing away will make things clearer … ok… what I think I mean is, I am going to write about the process of making things (music, art, coffee, mistakes) and the process of trying to promote the things (the music and art, not the coffee and mistakes) and hopefully it will be interesting to someone, even if that’s only me.

I suppose I will publish it to this blog, seeing as it used to be a thing. Actually, it’s “been” and “not been” a thing a few times over almost ten years. Long enough that I kind of despair of many of the old blog posts, to say the least.

But what the heck.
I yam what I yam,
I was what I was,
And like I said: I needed the money.

The post Music, Art, Coffee and Mistakes appeared first on Rebel Zen.

Seamus Anthony <![CDATA[Rebel Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance]]> 2017-12-01T21:09:37Z 2017-12-01T00:44:06Z 2017 has been a very creative year for me, I have made some great music – but surprisingly, my creative muscles have also been busy grinding away at odd topics like motorcycle repairs and other … Read more

The post Rebel Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance appeared first on Rebel Zen.

2017 has been a very creative year for me, I have made some great music – but surprisingly, my creative muscles have also been busy grinding away at odd topics like motorcycle repairs and other workaday concepts than I would not have anticipated being important to me. Strange, I know, but it has all been for  purpose and things are tracking well. But what have motorbike repairs got to do with anything? Allow me to explain…

motorcycle zen guy

Business is Creative

OK so … late last year I was having a lot of fun: I was fresh back from China, making music and pumping out blog posts here about how to unleash the creative beast within like there was no tomorrow – but there was an elephant in the room: I was going backwards financially. This would be bad enough if I was a single man but being the father of two awesome school-aged kids, it just wasn’t ok.

I mean, I wasn’t broke – yet – but I had been neglecting my bread and butter gig (digital marketing) chasing good times and the trajectory was clear: I was headed for Brokesville unless something happened quick!

Thankfully it did – and for the better. It started when I read a quote by Joanna Penn (from The Creative Penn podcast) that “business is creative”. This just resonated with me for some reason, I guess because I have long had a duel interest in these two subjects (creativity and business) but have often found myself believing that unfortunately, business is more about grinding it out like a robot to get that sweet cash than about being creative. I no longer think this is correct.

It got me thinking and I remembered a conversation I had been having with a colleague in the digital marketing space. You see, for a long time, I had found it very difficult to make good money being a digital marketing freelancer, but a very amiable fellow called David was explaining to me mid-late 2016 his business model for making better money out of ‘the game’. And it had really interested me at the time, but then I got distracted going to China and everything and it fell by the wayside.

So I gave David a call and he very generously explained his model to me and it was a revelation that really got my creative juices firing – AND promised to rectify the less-than-desirable trajectory I was on.

Long story short I got busy reimagining my own business, riffing and jamming off of the ideas David had presented me with. I rebranded the business and went out there and started hustling. And it worked! OK I am not a millionaire yet but it has been a good year and things are on the up and I have found the business very creative and rewarding to run – even if I have had to spend a lot of time thinking about things that I would not normally give a stuff about, like “motorbike repairs Melbourne” and other random topics like that (in order to help my digital marketing clients).

Meantime, have I been making music? Yes. Yes I have.

Execution is everything

OK the music … the music … you see, the OTHER reason I flipped from last year’s focus on talking “about” creativity was because the more I looked at it the more I realised that the most important thing is the execution of creative work. Execution is everything. Actually doing the work is more powerful (and sometimes a lot less pleasant) than talking and writing and thinking about doing the work. So I decided I would not do any more blog posts until I had something to show, that I would stop waffling and execute.

And execute I did – I got the songs done for the chinese TV show (still waiting to see that come out of production yet, time will tell what the result is) and I have a new song which I’m stoked to present today.

Now, I say “got the songs done” like this was nothing but the truth is it was a big deal. It took a lot of time, frustration, hustle and a steep learning curve because I did not know how to record music myself nor did I have anything resembling a home studio.

My old laptop was not up to the task and I needed simple software to help me to the music rolling without having to spend massive amounts of time learning the hardest, most complicated software skills going.

So I hustled the money to buy a relatively inexpensive mac laptop (not a new one) and I set about learning the very basic (but surprisingly excellent Garageband application). Now the problem was still that I did not have the studio engineering know-how nor the production (mixdown) skills. So I had to badger my friends into helping me, while not really having much to offer them for their trouble other than production credits and a few beers.

Great Artists Ship

But … we got the songs done – and dealt with the sometimes challenging aspect of doing creative music work and sending it off to the animation company only to have them come back with a bunch of reasonable (yet sometimes hard to comprehend) requests. In the end it took months – MONTHS – to get those two songs finished. But finished they eventually were. I personally was not 100% happy with them, but the client was and eventually you have to draw a line under your work once you reach the point of diminishing returns and ship the damn thing.

The cool thing was that along the way I started to get ideas for new songs (in fact I wrote many on my guitar as release from the frustration of tweaking the same two songs endlessly) and of course I learned some production skills and so, Chinese songs in the can, I began a new recording. This time I was able to complete the recording much more quickly. I still strong-armed a mate (thanks Tony) into helping me with the mixdown because I’m not really an audiophile as such. For me it is more about the song structure – the melody, the lyrics, the dynamic of the song journey, the mood and aesthetic – than about whether the mids are too muddy or the lows to brown or whatever. However, I do know that these skills are important to the end result, so I did get some help and then get the song mastered.

I am very happy with the result and now am happy to release it to you to listen to (see above).

THAT is why no blog posting for so long – because I did not want to come back to this blog about creative output without any new creative output to show. And it took WAY longer and was WAY harder than I anticipated. I am pretty sure that with the responsibilities of my adult life as a father with all that entails, I would not have finished any actual art if I had been using up what creative time I had available writing more guff about “how to be a more productive creative”. So maybe the lesson is – stop thinking, talking and writing so much about being creative and JUST DO IT.

Anyway … enjoy the song. I hope it helps you in some way somehow…

The post Rebel Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance appeared first on Rebel Zen.

Seamus Anthony <![CDATA[How To Cope With Life]]> 2017-02-15T05:00:39Z 2017-02-15T01:46:04Z Here’s the secret to how to cope with life: Face up to your problems and take steps to deal with them. You don’t need to know all the answers, but you do need to look … Read more

The post How To Cope With Life appeared first on Rebel Zen.

Here’s the secret to how to cope with life: Face up to your problems and take steps to deal with them. You don’t need to know all the answers, but you do need to look your life in the eye and take steps to sort your shit out. That’s the closest thing you will ever get to a solution to all of your problems. Do it, and things will get better, I promise you.

Face up to the depression and take steps to deal with it.

Face up to the substance abuse and take steps to deal with it

Face up to your procrastination. Face up to what you are avoiding and take the steps you need to take.

Face up to the work that needs doing to pay the bills and take steps to deal with it.

Face up to the money that is getting wasted and take steps to curb spending where you can.

Face up to the poor business model and take steps to deal with it.

Face up to the frustration, dissatisfaction and boredom you feel with your work and/or life and take steps to deal with it.

Face up to the health issue and take steps to eliminate the cause and/or symptoms.

Face up to the sub-par physical health and take steps to deal with it.

Face up to the challenges of relationships and take steps to deal with it.

Face up to the fact that you’re not coping and ASK FOR HELP.

Face up to whatever isn’t working, or could be working better, and take steps to deal with it all.

…And Feel The Weight Lift Off Your Shoulders.

Facing up to ALL of your reality will help you to stop carrying around a great shoulder load of unresolved bullshit that is weighing you down. It’s often the unresolved weight on our shoulders that makes life hard, more so than our issues themselves.

Actions have consequences – deal with that.
Inaction has consequences – deal with that too.

Meet the world – your life – as it is. Be compassionate with yourself, but also be real with yourself. If you don’t take steps to deal with problems they only get worse.

  • If you don’t eat healthy, you won’t get healthier.
  • If you don’t exercise, your body will deteriorate faster and feel worse.
  • If you don’t talk to your wife, you don’t sort shit out and enjoy a better life with her.
  • If you don’t do the work your clients have hired you to do, you soon won’t have any clients.
  • If you don’t focus on building a satisfying career, and put in the hours towards building it, you won’t get a satisfying career.

Taking Steps Does Not Mean Knowing All The Answers

Sometimes we do know the answers and just don’t want to do what needs doing, but sometimes we genuinely don’t know the answers. The solution there is to take steps to discover the answers.

Seek professional help. Talk to your family and friends. Try 999 things until the 1000th thing that works. Take a guess and go for it, but don’t just sit there! Don’t avoid taking action because nothing happens until something moves.

Don’t Second Guess: Progress

Once you come up with a plan – keep at it until you KNOW it won’t work.

  • Not just until you have second thoughts.
  • Not just until you tell someone who screws their nose up at your plan.
  • Not just until your first attempt doesn’t come up to scratch.
  • Not just until your 100th attempt doesn’t come up to scratch.
  • Not just until it gets too hard.
  • Not just until you don’t feel like it.
  • Not just until you get a door slammed in your face.

No. Keep at it until you KNOW it won’t work this way.

Here’s a clue about how you know when it is time to change the plan: it is almost always when you realise you need to throw out some bathwater but not the baby. It’s when you realise you need to make a course adjustment, but not quit the race entirely.

I am not saying there is never a time to quit. But I am saying that a lot of us self-sabotage by quitting too soon and too often. If you’ve been working at something for 5 years and it’s just made you horribly miserable the entire time, then sure, come up with a different plan. But if you’ve started a new project (business, relationship, geographic location, diet, band, whatever) every six months for the last ten years – then the problem was never the plan! It was your lack of persistence. Which always comes back to avoidance. Not facing reality and dealing with it.

Ask for help.

Reach out.


Try things.

Do the work.

Face and deal with what needs facing up to and feel the weight lift off your shoulders. Do this and you will progress, and the sun will shine again.

The post How To Cope With Life appeared first on Rebel Zen.

Seamus Anthony <![CDATA[4 Steps To Claim Your Creative Power]]> 2016-11-24T02:35:04Z 2016-11-24T02:11:33Z Often the the pressures of the world and our own Monkey Minds conspire to leave us feeling disconnected from our creative power. It happens to all of us – here’s a quick video about how … Read more

The post 4 Steps To Claim Your Creative Power appeared first on Rebel Zen.

Often the the pressures of the world and our own Monkey Minds conspire to leave us feeling disconnected from our creative power. It happens to all of us – here’s a quick video about how I follow four steps to get back in touch with my own creative power.

Special thanks to Simon for introducing me to the 4 powers of the Sphinx, which this process is based on


The post 4 Steps To Claim Your Creative Power appeared first on Rebel Zen.

Seamus Anthony <![CDATA[The 9 Celestial Dragons of Creative Success (Or Things What I Learned In China)]]> 2016-11-24T20:07:45Z 2016-11-24T02:03:11Z Wow! China! What a place! I mean just look at these mountains! Here is an epic post about “what I done learned” while I was there. With some fun holiday snaps for eye candy along … Read more

The post The 9 Celestial Dragons of Creative Success (Or Things What I Learned In China) appeared first on Rebel Zen.

Wow! China! What a place! I mean just look at these mountains!

chinese mountains limestone karsts

Here is an epic post about “what I done learned” while I was there. With some fun holiday snaps for eye candy along the way.

Seamus Visiting the Sun & Moon Pagodas in Guilin, China

That’d be me, in Tourist Hat Mode, visiting the Sun & Moon Pagodas in Guilin, China

I felt very aware during my visit that the Sleeping Dragon is definitely awakening. No two ways about it, after all they went through last century, the Chinese have put it behind them and are getting on with business. Given that the average IQ in China is so high, I think we can safely assume they are going to kick some serious business butt!

Nothing to fear though, 99.99% of the native Chinese I met were gentle, friendly and particularly helpful. I think they (like other old civilizations) have had enough of destruction and just want to get on with building a better, more prosperous life and a more harmonious world.

I learned so much while I was there, both directly via things wise people told me, and indirectly, via observing the Chinese in action. I think any creative person would do well to pay attention to the following, if you wish to prosper and build a better world through your good works.

giving a talk on creativity to a room full of writers and animators.

Giving a talk on creativity to a room full of writers and animators at Crane Animation Studios. That’s Jenny, founder and CEO, standing to my left.

Note: special thanks to Simon & Jenny, my hosts while in China, for their wisdom. Much of what follows flows out of me second-hand, via the things I heard them say and witnessed them do.

1. Create an Emperor Cult

One thing I noticed during my stay is that in China they are not afraid of establishing a pecking order. In fact, they seem to do it quite naturally and willingly. The business leaders I associated with, while not numerous, did have one thing in common: they made it pretty clear (without being tyrannical) who the boss was. Big offices, with big desks and a clear and strong chain of command.

In the west, we have grown up so indoctrinated by the cult of individualism, that we tend to assume that if we stand up and claim a leadership role, we will be ridiculed or despised. In fact, the opposite is true. Most people want to follow a strong leader. This is why in the absence of a wise strong leader, people will follow a moronic strong leader. Ultimately, they are attracted to strength. No doubt it goes back to the origins of humankind. Tribes with strong leaders probably worked together well and prospered. Individualism back then was more likely a surefire route to starvation or danger.

If you want to succeed as a creative, stand up and lead a tribe. Get other people to worship you and put them to work for you. Get a big desk and sit behind it. Make them follow you around while you walk, make them visit you for meetings, as I witnessed one multi-billionaire do, at 10pm on a Sunday night. Do odd things that scream “I am the leader, I can be idiosyncratic, you cannot”.

One man I met, a very wealthy self-made man, has apparently been known to stand up and walk, wordlessly, out of them room while being pitched at, returning after a few minutes only to simply say very little. I saw this man in action and the way his people obediently followed him was remarkable, all while apparently adoring him at the same time.

arnie success

Arnie has very little to do with China per se but this article coincides with me having a bit of an obsession with him. No doubt it’s just a phase.

2. Don’t Break The Energy Chain

Credit for the title & concept of this point goes direct to Jenny, CEO of Crane Animation, even if I have added my own weird pop-culture twist to it all. She is also directly responsible for the titles of points 3, 4 & 6.

While “a journey of a thousand miles” and “persistence, persistence, persistence” have become cliches in the self-improvement game, the truth is, they are cliches because they are true. I was given a very earnest talking to by Jenny, the CEO of a successful company in China, who showed me example after example of situations, both from history and from personal experience of people who get nowhere because they chop and change, or start and stop, to often.

The true creative success stories are not tales of people who did this, that and then the other, leaving a trail of half-finished projects behind them, but rather they are stories of people who, once they found something that resonated with an audience, kept at it.

It is yet another example of my personal motto “Consistent, focused action, over time”. I truly believe that every time I have failed in this life it has been because I quit or changed tack when instead it would have been more effective to keep going. That is how people build huge personal brands. That is how creative success stories like The Simpsons, Arnold Schwarzenegger or The Cure succeeded.

When The Simpsons struck a nerve with society, they stuck at it to build an icon out of what might just have been another fad that came and went.

Arnold Schwarzenegger created himself into an icon by focusing solely on body building until after 6 consecutive Mr Olympia titles, he could go no higher. Then he swapped to making movies, until by the time he released Terminator 2 in 1991, he was one of the most unlikely screen icons ever.

The Cure were just another Gothic punk band, and not a very good looking one at that, but Robert Smith stuck very solidly to his teen-gloom-meets-quirky-lipstick-pop act until, long after his original 1980s new romantic goth peers had all gone home, he was filling stadiums around the world.

Another example: Stan Lee from Marvel comics. He was a mere employee to begin with, but he stayed around long enough to build a personal brand and a lifetime career as “the Marvel guy” while all of the other players came and went.

Create a vision, experiment until you stumble upon something that gets a little traction and then stick to it, long term. That goes for me too.

3. No Excuses

Have clarity of thought and self/other awareness. Listen and you will hear all the excuses people make. You may also hear those you make yourself; catch yourself out and reverse that. Stop making excuses; set yourself apart by not allowing excuses to stop you. Invest in yourself and go the extra mile. Do what others are not willing to do.

china chicken feet

Reality is hard – especially if you are a chicken in China because they will eat your feet.

4. Accept that Reality is Hard

Do what you have to do, don’t waste energy complaining about reality, plan how you will deal with reality.

Accept that it might take hundreds of attempts to get what you want. It will probably take longer and be harder than you thought it would. You will need to pay the bills, so if you need to work for cash AND build your dreams, then accept this. The alternative is to just suck eggs, so what else can you do?

If you don’t exercise and eat properly, you will become unhealthy. So you need to eat healthy and exercise. This is the reality, whether you like it or not, it doesn’t change. If you want to grow wealthy, you have to learn how to manage your money. If you spend more than you earn then you will have a lot of consumer goods, and a lot of debt, but little real wealth or financial security.

This is the reality, you cannot change reality. You can change certain outcomes within the mainframe that we operate in, but you cannot change the rules of reality. Blink your eyes as many times as you like, you will never open them to find you have been magically transported to Paris in an instant.

Decide, plan, work, get the money, buy some tickets, and get on the plane and you can absolutely enjoy that dream holiday sipping wine at a little cafe in Monte Mart.

Same goes for your creative aspirations. You WANT the ability to paint wonderfabulous canvasses of awe inspiring colour and skill all you like. But the only way to actually do it is to paint every day, whether you have a full time job and two kids or not.

What I notice about people who are doing really well for themselves, they still have to do a lot of stuff that they don’t want to do just for its own sake, not because it feels good, but because they know what they want and doing the hard stuff is the price they must pay to get what they want. Watch Arnold Schwarzenegger pump iron in Pumping Iron and he is not enjoying that part of it, it clearly hurts him big time, but it is the price he pays to get what he wants. He invests his time and effort towards extracting the desired result.

Unfortunately I think us creative people sometimes just want to loll about dabbling in our creative pursuits while enjoying the easy life. The truth is, we can (most of us) do this already and yet, we don’t feel satisfied when we do. I know, I have tried that for years and it is very dissatisfying. It doesn’t take any real skill or commitment to chill out being an arty hippy type, floating from whim to whim, making the odd creative flourish here or there without really focusing down and doing the hard yards – and there is little real reward, beyond the odd pleasant moment with a glass of cheap wine in your hand and an afternoon in the sun.

That gets boring after a while, there is a law of diminishing returns at play there, eventually, you find yourself staring at a fistful of bills that threaten to seriously cramp your lifestyle and a nagging sense of dissatisfaction with how nobody but you and your 3 best mates give a flying fuck about your so-called creative genius.

But how do you get out of THAT familiar and uninspiring scenario?…

Chinese scooter guy

Harness your personal power … failing that get an awesome 3 wheeled scooter truck like this dude.

5. Harness Your Personal Power

Have clarity of thought and a vision, obsess about it, talk about it (prudently). Do not talk about what you do not want as you only give it power. Develop a bullshit filter that assesses both your own thoughts, words and deeds and those of others, see clearly what others cannot (will not) see.

List the things that you probably need to do to make it happen. And then assess why it is you do not do the things that you know you should do. Be tough on yourself. All this self-congratulatory, self-love, be-kind-to-yourself twaddle is all very well, but ultimately it is not very useful at getting you to level and move mountains. It’s just another form of instant gratification, like a would-be actor awarding themselves a home-made Oscar statue. It might be fun (and possibly a good way to focus on getting what you want) but it is ultimately just masturbation.

The real Way is about understanding that you have personal power, and working out how to focus it, use it to create outcomes, and then learning how to leverage it. Arnold Schwarzenegger, while not everyone’s cup of tea, is a remarkable example of mind over matter. He literally willed himself to the top by understanding that he had personal power, and learning how he wasted it, and how to redirect that wasted power into a more constructive way.

He tells a story in Pumping Iron of how he wouldn’t allow any negative thoughts or emotions to distract him from his purpose. He said if someone stole his car, he would not allow the story of this wrongdoing infect his positivity and burn up his energy, as this would negatively detract from his workouts. Instead he would laugh it off, have someone call the insurance company, and stay focused on pointing his personal power at his objective, his Major Definite Purpose.

This I noticed happening in China, when people were working, they were working. They were focused in a way that I don’t often see here in Australia. They were not on Facebook, they were not mooching about the staff kitchen for half the day. They were butt-in-chair, eyes front focused on the work at hand.

I think that any creative person who can harness their personal power in this way – in a focused and consistent way – can move mountains.

In my life, when I got back from China, I have created a list of things that deplete my personal power and I am on a mission to control these energy leaks, and redirect that wasted energy towards my stated mission. It is not necessarily what I want to do, like for fun, but it is what is needed to make my plans reality. (See “reality is hard”).

coco and little love gemini fables

Coco & Little Love of Gemini Fables fame are everywhere in Guilin and throughout China. Being chosen to create the theme songs for their soon to be released spin-off show was good luck that I somehow attracted!

6. Self-discipline is not enough (you need Luck)

At first, when my host CEO told me this one, I did not quite know what to make of it, but after some reflection, I got it. While having self-discipline is not necessarily as common amongst people in the West as it is in China (they seriously kick our butts when it comes to self-discipline from what I can tell, per capita that is), I can also see how actually Jenny was right, it is not enough.

We do also need to “attract” good luck in the form of opportunities. This made me reflect on how it came to be that I was in China. Without going into the details of other people’s private lives, the situation was that during a turbulent time in a long standing connection’s life, I did not judge them nor get involved in the details. I simply stood by them, giving them the benefit of the doubt and supporting this person in their journey to find personal fulfillment. Hardly worthy of a sainthood, sure, but in such situations, people often tend to jump to conclusions, choose sides and pass judgments. I didn’t see any of this as my business and instead I just tried to be friend as best I could.

A couple of years later I got the surprise call with the offer to go to China and make the music for the TV show from the same person. Of course my self-discipline in continuing music through many years helped, and will be necessary to complete the job, but I can see that having “a good heart” helped me to attract the “good luck” in the form of opportunity. This would not have happened if I had not stood by my friend.

flow with the Tao

Flow with the Tao – like these two guys I snapped having a post-lunch chillax on their scooters!

7. Flow with the Tao

In the south of China where I was staying, while they work very hard and long hours, they also have a cute custom of chilling out with a nap for half an hour or so wherever they work. So the office of diligent, nose-to-the-grindstone animators, writers and other office-types would all stop to eat lunch, then curl up in their chairs or on mats on the floor to have a snooze, right there at work. I even saw people napping on their parked motor scooters and one lady (not homeless) fast asleep on a bench, right on the street corner near a major intersection!

Clearly these people are flowing with the Tao: when working, work, when hungry, eat, when sleepy, sleep!

I also noticed that while they worked very hard, they did not seem rushed or stressed out. Their spirits were light and they stayed focused without frowning or appearing miserable as so many do in offices here in the West.

  • Relax even when you are busy,
  • do not be too attached to outcomes,
  • keep a universal perspective,
  • keep a sense of humour,
  • have fun (play),
  • when you are eating, eat.
  • When you are working, work.
  • Rest if you need to.
  • When you are eating AND working, eat and work (don’t worry that you “shouldn’t be” doing that, if you choose to do it, just do it.)
  • Do not get hung up on minutia (I noticed the Chinese not being too bothered about fussy manners).
Seamus train driver china

This chap was the driver of the bullet train, who, on seeing I was struggling with my luggage, kindly offered and helped me with a suitcase for about 300 meters. This was indicative of the populous in general, very fast with offers of help without prompting.

8. Cultivate Relationships and a Good Reputation

One thing that stood out for me when I was in China was how kind, friendly and helpful everyone was. With such an enormous population, I was expecting a dog-eat-dog jungle but in fact it was just the opposite. The place has the feel of a (bloody big) village.

Many times when we were out and about, local people approached us to offer their help when we looked lost or were struggling with luggage. And it was not just because we were foreigners. I also saw locals going out of their way to help other locals too.

An interesting part of this was how after meeting in such a way, there was often a quick exchange of contact details, usually facilitated by their preferred local tech: QQ and We Chat.

These social media apps proved quick ways to add each other and it did not seem to be something that people wanted to only do with their actual real life friends and loved-ones.

It was clear to me also, that people are very protective their of their reputation, and not surprisingly, in China, as far as I can tell (I am not an expert on the country!), the emphasis is strong on cultivating a strong family and (old school) social network around you to help you should you need it. So your reputation as a helpful, hard working member of “the village” is super important there.

Personally, I think we could learn a LOT from that here in “the west”.

9. Fame Can Be A Strategy

Once everyone knows your brand, you can easily find things to sell. The animation company I was there to work for, have an animated TV series, the characters of which were everywhere, at least in the city I was staying in.

They were on giant posters that lined fences, they were in tourist signs in roundabouts, they were in elevators, they were on giant digital screens, everywhere.

Impressed, I tried to sound intelligent by asking what the strategy for making money was.

“Make the brand really famous,” came the simple reply. “Then sell lots of stuff.”

And if you think about it, while many of us claim that fame is not the goal (it’s OK if it is, by the way), it is hard to think of a better strategy to make your creative work (artwork, music, novels, whatever) successful and financially rewarding than to achieve a measure of fame.

So fame in and of itself can actually be a strategy: Get famous, you can sell your art.

Obscurity is the enemy of creative success, for most creatives anyway.

So this means placing an emphasis on courting media attention, something that many of us shy away from or just simply don’t think about.

I decided on the way back from China, while reflecting on this, to begin sending out media releases regularly, to try and see just how much press I can get for what it is I do. I don’t know about you, but I am sick of my creative output getting under-appreciated anyway – bring on Seamus the media whore!

Well that wraps up my notes about what I learned in China. I did learn more during my adventure, so no doubt I will have more to say about it all later.

Meanwhile – onward with focused, consistent action over time!

The post The 9 Celestial Dragons of Creative Success (Or Things What I Learned In China) appeared first on Rebel Zen.

Seamus Anthony <![CDATA[3 Common Mindsets That Block Your Creative Genius]]> 2016-09-29T00:30:37Z 2016-09-28T23:45:50Z Over time I have noticed that these 3 common mindsets tend to hold us creative types back from unleashing our creative genius upon the world. I have to admit that these issues sometimes affect me … Read more

The post 3 Common Mindsets That Block Your Creative Genius appeared first on Rebel Zen.

Over time I have noticed that these 3 common mindsets tend to hold us creative types back from unleashing our creative genius upon the world.

I have to admit that these issues sometimes affect me as much as the creative friends and creativity coaching clients I speak to. Perhaps you will relate and perhaps this blog and related video will help you to smash through these block and become the creative powerhouse you’ve always known you could be.

I’ve made a video about these 3 creativity killers, but the rest of this blog post goes into it further (i.e. it’s not a transcript of the video).

1 – Lack of Inspiration

Many creative types wait until they feel inspired before they start the work. This is because we grow up with this stereotypical idea of the inspired artist, driven by divine inspiration to feverishly paint (write, whatever) all day and into the wee hours of the night. Unfortunately, most of us do not actually experience this kind of hyper-inspiration very often. Oftentimes we find we can artificially induce this heightened state of flow with drugs or alcohol, but this is a path to ineffectiveness and often self-destruction and misery.

The other idea that I think we creatives pander to is that creating should feel inspired and blissful all the time. This is actually wrong-headed. Creating is work  that you do to get a result. The result is to serve others. If you just want to feel good then perhaps try chocolate or masturbation or something. If you want to create amazing art or an inspirational business, then prepare to experience pain. Sometimes creating is a beautiful, blissful experience, but often it is simply hard work. Get over it.

Ultimately, this is the truth: inspiration lies on the other side of effort. I talk about it more in the video. The importance of this statement is profound. Please pay attention.

2 – Perfectionism

I struggle with this one a lot myself, but I know enough to know that at the end of the day, I must release the work I have done, in all it’s imperfection, once it is done. Take the video that I have made today to accompany this blog post. It is actually pretty crappy in a lot of ways. I am sure you have seen plenty of professional video content and looking at mine you will notice that it ain’t that crash hot in terms of production values! The lighting is a bit dodgy, I didn’t have a script or even an outline of what I was going to say, so I come off as a bit of a rambling maniac (authenticity, right?) and the camera keeps going in and out of focus – gah! Then when I formatted the video to upload to YouTube I noticed the image was slightly stretched and distorted.

But what the hell, there’s a message in their that I hope will serve someone, so I put it out there anyway. Over time, I will get better at video. For now, it’s good enough just to be brave and suspend my own harsh judgement of myself.

Same goes for the below music video that I recently rediscovered gathering virtual dust in my dropbox account. We made this video a year ago and I decided at the time that it wasn’t good enough to release.

I wanted to tidy it up and add some extra footage to make it more compelling. At the time that was fair enough, but then I sustained a brutal throat injury, which has made it impossible for me to holler over a loud rock band for the time being and so, after an epic CD launch, the band was put on ice. Then when I came across the video again, I thought, what the hell, it’s not GREAT but it has SOME value so I put it out and pushed to my Facebook networks. And you know what? I made some sales of the Creatures from the Bog mini-album as a direct result. How about that…

I talk more in today’s video about how perfectionism is often trick of the monkey mind to make us procrastinate forever, thus maintaining the status quo. This is a creativity killer that you must grow out of if you are to thrive as a creative being.

3 – Indecision

One of the surest paths to success in any endevour, so the experts tell us, is to clearly identofy what it is you want. And this is true, if you know what you want it makes everything easier.


What if you DON’T KNOW? This is the thing that stumps many creatives. They can think of several things that they think they might like to do, but they are not sure which one is THE ONE.

Look, here’s the short answer: if you don’t know exactly what you want to do, just choose one direction that you think you might be keen on and get to work. Choose something that you have been keen on for a long time if can. But if you can’t, just choose something that sounds like fun and get to work.

If it works out – great. If it doesn’t work out, well, along the way you will discover stuff about yourself. You will discover what you don’t actually want to do. You will come up with other ideas, other directions you can try. You will be one step closer to knowing what “the thing” is.

The point is, you won’t discover it by dithering forever trying to decide what you want to do when you grow up. You are grown up. This is it. This is your life. Just start now, where you are, with what you have. To do anything else is waste the amazing opportunity that you have to serve others and make this world a better place.

If you could use some support to reach your creative potential, please reach out to me via email and let’s talk about your situation, no strings attached.

The post 3 Common Mindsets That Block Your Creative Genius appeared first on Rebel Zen.