My Kind of Creativity Coaching:  A Tale of Two Bubbles

As a creativity coach, I am profoundly interested in the growth and development of creative people.  I work with clients who are grappling with issues relating to their personal creativity, including coming to better understand their nature as a creating self, and developing habits and practices that support stronger, more continuous, and more joyful forward movement in their creative projects.  

I also work with creative people who want to design a life that supports their creative work, including questions of life purpose, direction, and choice-making.  I am particularly passionate about working with people who are creative in multiple ways, and who are in a process of discernment about how to organize a life that expresses all of who they are in a satisfying way.

Here's a little picture of how I see the two arenas for your growth as a creative person intersecting and mutually impacting each other:

Whether your concerns fall in the "creativity" bubble or the "life design" bubble, or smack dab in the juicy intersection between the two, I'm all about holding open the space for you to finally bring your creative life out of the sidelines and into the center of attention.

My Training and Experience

With an interdisciplinary academic background focusing on the intersections of gender, power, and visual culture, I started my career as an instructor of communication, writing and creativity.  I served as an instructor or adjunct faculty member at the University of California, San Diego, Regis University, Front Range Community College, and Colorado State University Extension programs.  In those years, I taught:

  • Creative nonfiction
  • Writing for magazines
  • Research writing
  • Composition
  • Writing for personal discovery
  • Expanding personal creativity

At Regis University and Front Range Community College, I also served as an academic advisor to adult students, helping to coach them in decisions about their academic and career pathways.  

In 2003, I was hugely excited when I learned of a way to combine my passions for creativity and coaching in a wacky, brand-new field called - go figure - "creativity coaching."  I studied with Eric Maisel - one of the most influential and prolific thinkers about what creative work really requires, and the inventor of "creativity coaching" as a field.  My coaching philosophy continues to be shaped by three of Maisel's profound insights:

  1. that meaning is not something we discover "out there" but something we have the responsibility to make and choose, and
  2. that our creative work and play are the practices through which we make meaning, and
  3. that not creating is deeply depressing for creatives, because it disconnects us from the field of meaning, and that the most useful response to this kind of depression is not therapy (necessarily), but rather the simple (and not so simple) task of getting back to creating. 

Behind the Resume:  Sara's Personal Path to Creativity Coaching

A couple things converged during my graduate school years that set me on the path to Creativity Coaching as a career:

Thing 1:  A work problem.  As so many thesis and dissertation writers do, I found myself horribly unprepared to manage my own writing practice.  Complete an assignment with a clear deadline for someone else?  Cool.  Fine.  No problem.  Complete a massive writing project with vague deadlines under my own steam?  Not so much.  I waged violent daily internal battles with my resistance to the point of deep despair and abject self-loathing.  Extremely not pretty, my friends.  Extremely painful times.

Thing 2:  A mistaken identity problem.  Because I was intellectually curious and generally always enjoyed school, I got all the way through college and well into a PhD program without noticing that I was not a scholar who did creative stuff on the side, I was a creative who did scholarly stuff pretty adequately when required.  Huge difference!  I learned first hand how easy it is to find yourself in a place that looks so right from the outside, but feels so wrong on the inside.

Sadly, this potent cocktail of resistance, self-ignorance, and fear ended up confusing the heck out of a lot of very nice people for many years - "she looks like an academic, smells like an academic, seems capable of performing as an why isn't she showing up consistently as an academic?"  It was perplexing all around.

The Search for Solutions

In the process of sorting these two "things" out for myself, and in a quest to feel less miserable, I began reading everything I could get my hands on that I thought might help: Books about the writing process led to books about creativity more generally which led to books about living an artist's life.  I inhaled Julia Cameron, Natalie Goldberg, Anne Lamott, then added Stephen Nachmonovich, Robert Fritz, Eric Maisel and many many more.  Along with this fun new reading list, I started playing around with art materials, indulging my distinctly un-scholarly love of shiny bits and art papers and color in a little "studio" carved out of a damp under-the-house garage.

Over the next 15 years, no matter what else I was doing, I continued to build on these foundational fascinations with art-making, writing, and the creative's life journey.  As I became increasingly steady in my own creative practice of assemblage-making, and began to recover my ability to write without being at war with myself, I also began to look for opportunities to teach about creativity and the creative process.

I've Been There - Heck On Any Given Day I AM There

As a multi-modal creative and a recovering academic, I know what it is like to be utterly confused about life direction and purpose, and I know what it is like to make yourself miserable by making and breaking a million promises to yourself to get back to your creative practice tomorrow, or next week, or next year....

As a coach, my passion is helping people find clarity within the complexity of their creative natures, and find ways to calmly and courageously go forward with their creative work, no matter what.  I believe firmly that there is no difference between our creativity and our purpose, that the world needs all of who we are, and that no one wins when we play it small or allow ourselves to get stopped in our tracks by fear or confusion.  

If you've taken the time to read this far - wow!  You get a big gold star!  I hope you'll also take the time to consider getting some support for moving forward with your creative practices and projects, and designing a life that honors your creative purposes!  Here are some handy buttons to make it easy for you to take that next step.

“We cannot live in a world that is not our own.  In a world that is interpreted for us by others.  An interpreted world is not a home.  Part of the terror is to take back our own listening.  To use our own voice.  To see our own light.”
- Abess Hildegard of Bingen, 12th century mystic and writer
The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.
— Anna Quinlen, writer
For your life to be art, you cannot ignore your own depth, your own reservoir of vitality. Through the creative process, your true spirit and essence is expressed throughout your life. When you are in touch with this spirit, you are transformed in many ways. It impacts your life direction, your understanding of what’s important to you, and your quality of life. It can be a platform from which to stand, a touchstone for deepest values and highest aspirations, a source of inner strength, and a fountainhead for amazing intrinsic generative energy.
— From 'Your Life as Art' by Robert Fritz
When I don’t write enough, I get a gnawing sense of disease. It is an appetite that isn’t sated by other things. I become lonely for my soul… Losing…the flow of writing is what makes for loneliness.
— Julia Cameron
[The self-confident creator] has true self-respect and boldness and will stand up for the intelligence, the light, the gift that is in her, no matter what happens in this life or in the life eternal.
— Brenda Ueland