Making Time for Creativity--Growing Gills work through



  • As I mentioned in another thread, I want to work my way through the exercises in the book Growing Gills by Jessica Abel.

    If the title makes you think its a weird sf/f story about someone turning into an amphibian or some such.... I'm sorry to disappoint ;-). The subtitle is, How to Find Creative Focus When You’re Drowning in Your Daily Life.

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    Now, I don't know about you, but to me that sounds incredibly useful.

    Full disclosure: I already read the book. I just didn't do the exercises. I KNOW they would be good for me and help me get my art practice under control, but I need an extra kick in the pants.

    Thankfully, the lovely @demotlj has agreed to work through the book with me, as a sort of accountability partner.

    Anyone else is free to join! The book is avaliable on Kindle Unlimited, or only costs 4 and a half bucks, which I think is a worthwhile investment.

    I plan to work slowly, maybe 1-2 chapters a week, so we have no excuses.

    To start, our assignment is to

    1. Get the book
    2. Read Chapter 1: Facing Your Dilemmas: How to uncover the specific obstacles that stand in the way of your achieving your creative goals
    3. Complete Activity 1: The Five Whys

    Check in by next Saturday, January 19th

    Until Then--Happy reading!



  • Awesome! I love Jessica Abel. I have taken a couple of her mini courses. I think the free course called the creative compass is the one she developed to promote this book. I really enjoyed it.



  • I've taken a couple of her mini courses too! I've always come away with something useful or thought provoking. I love her blog and emails as well. I want to move from being more passive (just collecting nice ideas from cool people) and applying them... thus this work through/read along/whatever we want to call it. Please Join if you wish, or even just chime in even if you don't read the book. 🙂



  • @sarahluann Okay. I'm in! Just purchased (will get here on the 14th), so I'll hopefully keep up with ya'll.



  • This looks great! I may need to check it out...



  • This is so cool! I can't participate right now because I have a few others projects I'm working on, but I'm so curious to follow this thread and your works! Anyone posting their progress for this on instagram? I'd love to follow along.
    I'll definitely be bookmarking this book for later.



  • @sarahluann OMG. This book. I felt like I was reading about me in the Intro (pushing away art in school because it came easy to me, taking up classes that I felt were more "legitimate"). Yikes. Humbling, yet uplifting so far. Today I'm starting to track my time -- I'm a little scared to see just how much time I waste on FB/email/depressing news. I love how she lays out that as independent creatives, our schools/traditional workplaces don't show us the way for self-initiated creative projects, so it's normal that it falls to the wayside.



  • Since I have a busy week coming up, I'll put my comments up early.

    I read the introduction and the first chapter, and did the activity of the "whys," which resulted in these two insights. First of all, I'm no longer really dealing as much with a time drain as with a creative drain. When I had children in the house, I definitely felt at times like I couldn't breathe (the gills is such a great metaphor) and got up at 5 am just to have time to work on creative things. Now, my kids are grown (the youngest is in college) but as they became more independent, I took on more responsibilities at work which all require creative output. As the minister of a small church, I not only have to put together worship and write a sermon every week, but I'm also in charge of the music program, writing our weekly Sunday School curriculum, etc.etc. I feel like I'm constantly having to drag creative ideas out of my brain so when I have time to work on my own stuff, I have no creativity left! If I've already started a piece and am just mindlessly painting, it's great but if I'm trying to compose a piece, my brain is too tired to think about it. Right now, I basically wait until Monday (my one day off) to spend on composition etc. but that means it takes longer than I want to get pieces done. Not sure what to do about that.

    The other insight, however, in doing the "why" activity was that when I asked myself "why" I sometimes avoid doing art even when I do have the time and energy, it went like this:

    I'm afraid it will turn out badly. Why am I afraid of that?
    Because it sometimes has. Why has it sometimes turned out badly?
    Because I'm not always sure of what I'm doing. Why am I not sure of what I'm doing?
    Because I don't have a lot of experience. Why don't I have a lot of experience?
    Because I sometimes avoid doing art because I'm afraid it will turn out badly!

    The exercise helped me to see what a stupid loop I've caught myself in 🙂

    Those are my initial thoughts. Looking forward to hearing everyone else's.



  • @demotlj Laurie, thanks for sharing your Whys. Here are mine:

    Resistance: I don't work everyday on my illustration.
    Because....I have to clean, shop, exercise, drive kids around, deal with contractors, etc.
    Because...I am the stay at home parent, so this work defaults to me.
    Because... my husband has more earning potential.
    Because....he's a lawyer.
    Why does that process fail? I'm putting the business (and busy-ness) of stay-home-parent above my illustration career.

    That was hard to write. But hey, first step to recovery.