why it’s not selfish to make art . . . that’s just for yourself.

. . .
One of the many things that I adore about Kylie’s blog is how she talks about self-care:
“The better you’re able to take care of yourself, the better you can live your life. And the better you live your life, the more you contribute to the world.”


Self-care is essential.

Decidedly not selfish.

There are all sorts of ways we can take care of ourselves, from seemingly tiny acts like taking our vitamins to bigger commitments like scheduling a massage.

And yet, making art — art that’s just for you — doesn’t often make the self-care check list.

Even though it feeds you.

Even though it lightens your mood.

Even though it is supremely happy-making.

When you’re radiating joy, the world’s a better place for everyone, right?


Before I go on, maybe I should explain what I mean by art.

I mean your own creative expression, no matter what shape it takes.

Sure, art might mean playing around with paints. But it could just as easily mean quietly assembling words into a poem. Or dreaming up a contraption that makes cotton candy *and* generates clean energy (win-win!).

The point is, you’re making something for your pleasure alone. You can decide later whether you want to share it with your best friend, or the world.

It’s art with no agenda.

Even when we do allow ourselves to make art, it’s often with a particular end in mind — something that’s profitable, or serves people, or is capital-M Meaningful.

Art-making for its own sake is one of the flow activities famously identified by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

And according to Csikszentmihalyi, flow is the key to living a satisfying life.

Who couldn’t use a richer, more satisfying life, I ask you?

And as if that weren’t enough, the art you make for you and you alone?

It’s the *best* art.

It’s the art that gets people excited (assuming that you eventually share it — you don’t have to!)
I should know.

After a lifetime of living as an artist, I gave it up. For thirteen years!

When I did get the urge to make things once more, I couldn’t just do it for the pure joy of it.

It had to be in service of productivity, or getting the creative juices going for my business.

But that wasn’t enough.

I needed to make things just for me.

And, ironically, people are describing these “selfish” pieces with words like “mesmerizing” and “powerful.” Even better, these little pieces are inspiring others to wonder, “What could I be making right now?”

How do you get started?

1. Make it easy by getting ready.

The thing about making art of any kind is: unlike watching TV or wandering around online, it usually involves some kind of preparation.

Does this sound familiar?

You’re tired, you’ve been working all day, and when you think of getting back into painting or whatever — you’re (understandably) overwhelmed with the idea of setting it all up.
Your art supplies are in the closet — maybe.

And what are you going to paint on? Do you have a blank canvas stashed somewhere? Or maybe a block of watercolor paper?

Even if know the exact location of all your tools, where are you going to set up? You’ve got to clear a space. Maybe today’s not the day . .
In The Happiness Advantage, author and happiness expert (shouldn’t we all be happiness experts?) Shawn Achor describes how moving his guitar from the closet to a stand in his living room helped him do what he so much wanted to do: practice on a daily basis.

So how can you make it easier for Future You to make your version of art?

2. Make it easy by improvising.

Do you really need everything you think you need, in order to make art?

If you’re a writer, you might not necessarily need a tidy desk and all your notes in order. You might find that all you need is a pen and a cocktail napkin.

When I started making art again, I had a mental block about getting proper supplies. To get around that, I pulled out stacks of blank index cards, old nail polish that I never wore, dry-erase markers — whatever I happened to have on hand.

What’s the bare minimum you need to make the art that calls to you?

3. Make it easy by finding support.

When I took part in Kylie’s first Day of Nothing, art-making — just for me — was absolutely on the menu.

If you’re having a hard time putting aside time for your art, having a day inked on your calendar can make a difference. Expert support before, during, and after can make a difference. Knowing that you’re not alone can make a difference.

So . . .

What’s one tiny step you could take toward making art, just for you? What would you make if no one was watching?

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