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The Good Coach :: The T Word by Lesley Riley

:: The Good Coach ::
The T Word
by Lesley Riley

I know you are all too familiar with the T-word. It comes up in every conversation about art. Artists are obsessed with it. We can't get enough of it. In fact, it's constantly on our minds. What we would give for more of the T-word?

TIME. It's the number one problem on everybody's list - time, or more to the point, the lack of it. If you had told me when I was five, that one day I would want more time, I'd have called you crazy and run off to play for the rest of my seemingly endless day. Time was abundant when we were young. How many times were you guilty of saying "I'm bored?" Now I say, "Bored? What a concept!" I haven’t been bored in decades.

I started Artist Success, because it was my goal, my mission as a coach, to help you create the art life that you want. The very, very, first step to creating that life is learning how to take control of your time. Actually, it isn't time that has to be controlled, it's you. It's how you use your time. We are all blessed with the same 24 hour day - seven of them every week. The key is how you choose to use that time. The keyword here being choose.

You choose how you spend every one of your 14,400 minutes in a day. You choose to go to your 9-5 job because you want to keep that job so that you have money to shelter, feed, and clothe yourself and others. It's a must-do choice, but a choice nonetheless. You choose to keep a doctor appointment because you need healthcare and you have agreed to meet with the doctor at the time he has set for you. You choose to keep your appointment because it's something you want and that's what you have to do to get it. It's an optional choice, but you comply because you made an agreement with someone else who will not see you on your own terms.

You say you want to alter a book, stitch up a new apron, start that large canvas in the corner but for some reason you never get around to doing it. Hmmmm, why is that? It's because you are choosing to do something else with your unscheduled time.

In that unscheduled time there are many things you choose to do out of love, obligation or necessity: sleep, re-stock the household, cook, clean (this one is optional, occasional or hired out as far as I'm concerned), take care of children or aging parents. And then there are the things you choose to do with your left over time: __________ (you know what you're doing, fill-in the blank yourself)

Now let me ask you this - Do you choose to love yourself? Do you choose to take care of yourself and be happy so you can continue to care for and give to others? Do you feel that art is necessary to your well-being? I'm pretty sure your answer to all three questions is YES. So what's stopping you?

Start now.
Just go.
Do it.
Art is at the end of the stART.

If, by any chance, you didn’t go stART and you're still sitting here reading this, here are five tips, tricks and strategies to help you start:

  • Schedule an art appointment on your calendar and KEEP it. It's important for your mental health.
  • There are 72 - 20 minute blocks in every day. Grab a sheet of paper or a journal page. Draw 72 blocks. After filling in your committed time, I'm betting there is at least one 20 minute block available for art.
  • Commit to making art a habit. You have good habits (brushing your teeth) and bad habits (surfing the net). Use your spare 20 minute block for this new good habit.
  • Allow yourself to play.  Unless you're working on a specific deadline, spending time creating without an agenda (playing) is more therapeutic and actually leads to more successful results in the long run.
  • Do what you can when you can. If you're waiting until you have large expanses of uninterrupted time, get over it. It rarely happens. Paint backgrounds while cooking. Alter a book page while waiting at soccer practice. Journal in the doctor’s office, sketch at lunch. If it's your dream to paint  8-foot canvases, paint 8-inch ones (or even the 3-inch) until your 8-foot time and place arrives.

"Don't worry about quality. Act. Don't reflect. Momentum is everything," say Steven Pressfield in his new book Do the Work. Working on something you love creates energy, creates endorphins, and creates a sense of timelessness - just what you are looking for.....more time!

Lesley Riley is an internationally known artist, workshop instructor and author with a passion for spreading the magic of art. Though her company, Artist Success, Lesley provides resources, coaching and mentoring to artists, enabling them to achieve their vision of success. For more information and resources, visit Learn about Lesley's new book titled Create with Transfer Artist Paper here.

Lesley Riley


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Great post! - I had to read just to find out what the "T" word was! It certainly seems in short supply these days but I often wonder if we just use it as an excuse not to do lots of things.

I love the idea of blocking out the 20 minutes to see where my time actually goes. I'm going to try it tonight! GREAT POST!!


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