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The Your Ladders Blog

There are a lot of things to think about when you're navigating a performing arts path. These blog topics will help.

168 Hours


One hundred and sixty-eight hours. That’s all the time we have in a given week. Those hundred and sixty-eight hours have to include sleeping, eating, commuting, working, loving, time with family, social time. It also has to include your artistic practice, all the elements of it.

There is the craft side of your practice. That includes classes, rehearsing, auditioning, writing, editing, creating. There’s the community side of your practice, and that includes going to see other people’s work, participating in community events, reaching out to folks who understand your path. And then there’s the business side of your practice. That can include networking and pitching your work. Or it can include working on a project, using skills that aren’t part of your current Skill set so that requires learning those skills, more time.

Time feels different depending on what you’re doing. Doing your taxes, for example, can make minutes feel like hours. But...

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The Value of a Mindshift

Last weekend I went to a crime fiction conference in Vancouver. I was on one of the panels, which was fun since I love talking about my work. But as with most conferences, the best part was catching up with friends and fellow authors.

Seeing people in person is invaluable. We all manage our social media presence, so the good news abounds. But when you're sitting with someone you get the real scoop. Folks are out of contract, with new proposals out but no news. Others are worried that their series won't get renewed. There are people with good news but they can't share it publicly yet. 

Then there are the conversations that are incredibly helpful--did that ad work for you? Where did you get your bookmarks done? Are you doing a blog tour for your next book?

All of these are writing specific, but the value of in person meetings with folks on a similar path are transferable to other artistic fields as well:

  • Find out how people are really doing with their work
  • Get insights about who...
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What's your artistic dream?

Throughout the month I’ve been providing you with some tools to shift your thinking as you move forward on your artistic path.

Today I want you to kick fear and doubt into the back seat, strap on your seatbelt and think about the big dream.

Do you have one? The role you want to play, the venue you want to perform in, the show you want to design, the book or play you want to write, the company you want to open. If your artistic path was without friction--friction being the demands of the rest of your life, the money you need to live, the space time continuum--what would you love to accomplish with your creative work?

If you’re anything like me, the minute you start dreaming the big dream the weights of doubt get wrapped around your ankles and drag you down. They can be big doubts (“Who am I to want to do this?” “I can think of a dozen more...

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What are your artistic goals?

I’ll never forget a conversation I had with my agent shortly before my first book was published. He said that getting published was the first step in the career. The next step was staying published.

It ends up, that second step is tougher than the first in many ways. But since writing still gives me joy, I persist in moving forward.

But moving forward required more than luck, it requires a plan. The first step in figuring out my plan is to set some long term and short term goals for my artistic path.

For some folks setting goals and figuring out a plan feels too businessy, like that work takes the art out of your practice. With all due respect to those folks, they’re wrong.

Setting long term goals and short term goals, and creating a plan, is the best way to navigate your artistic path. Your plan grounds you. It helps remind you why you’re on your path. It helps you let folks know why you do your work while you claim your creative space.

You can set goals around...

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Where's the Joy?

For the purposes of this blog, let me define the difference between pleasure and joy. Pleasure is a short term shot of happiness. Pleasure is being cast in a show, getting a gig booked, reading a good review, seeing an article about your work. Pleasure is a lovely but fleeting thing.

But pleasure isn’t joy.

Joy is the long term, sustained feeling. Joy doesn’t mean that the path is smooth, or that there aren’t bad days. But joy is the underlying feeling that gets you through the rough spots.

Does your artistic work bring you joy?

There may be parts that don’t. In my writing life, getting that first draft done is a challenge. A friend once described it as putting a log through a meat grinder, and she was right. There isn’t pleasure in that first draft.

But there is joy. I know that this is part of the process of writing, and that gives me great joy. So I’d rather be struggling with my first draft than not be a writer.

So, here are my questions this...

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The Good Life Coach Podcast interview!

I was so delighted to be on The Good Life Coach podcast this week! I'm talking about my journey as a writer, but I also talk about being an artist. 

Download Michele's podcast on a regular basis. It is inspirational, thoughtful and full of actions steps.

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What Do You Tell Folks About Your Work?

Last week’s blog post was about “Why Are You Doing Your Work?", with an accompanying worksheet designed to help you drill down on that. Often a creative path requires a hustle that blurs your reason for doing the work in the first place, so figuring out your why is critical.

This week, let’s have a conversation about what you tell folks about your work. You “tell” folks in conversation. But you also tell folks by how you show up in the world.

I remember the first time I made a business card that said “writer” on it. I’d only begun my journey as a writer who wanted to be published. Up until then I loved writing, but didn’t take my talent seriously enough to pursue with intention. That changed almost twenty years ago, and I decided I was going to my first conference to meet other writers and learn. At the last minute I ran out and bought a sheet of business cards I could print out. I put my name and email on it, and added...

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Why are you doing your work?

Starting this week and going throughout March I am going to be offering a weekly opportunity for you to have a mind shift as an artist. This internal process will clarify your work and your path. It may reboot your passion. Or it may be an opportunity for you to explore shifts in your life to get you back to why you started your journey.

Listen, art work is real work. It takes effort, in unconstrained by 9-5 rules, requires a lot of hustle and the rewards are not always financial. In fact, for most folks I know, the financial aspects of doing the work cause anxiety. We also live in a society (and I'm talking to my US readers here) where art work is not valued.

All of this compounds to add to the suffering artist meme that is easy to buy into. 


Artists have a special lens that allows them to see live in technicolor and 3D, with all of the glory, the blemishes, and beauty and the angst in sharp focus. They got that lens by answering the call of the muse, by listening to...

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One Step at a Time

I've been reading about goals a lot lately, and listening to podcasts on the same subject. Here's the thing, it is one thing to set a goal, especially a large inspirational goal. But without action, those goals will only taunt you. The action doesn't have to be huge, but it does need to be consistent.

Let me give you an example. One of my objectives for 2019 is to take better care of myself. So I've set goals around that--sleep more, take a day off every week (or try to), lose 30 pounds.

Now, losing 30 pounds is a big goal. It will happen one step at a time. But here's the thing--I need to consistently take actions towards that goal every day if I want to pull it off. Make good food choices. Move. Drink water. Leaning forward and taking small actions will get me to my goal. Or not, but I'll be closer than if I didn't take those small, daily actions.

The same goes for your artistic path. You should set goals for yourself and your career that feel large and audacious. And every day...

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Why do I need a plan?

Are you an artist who is comfortable with creating the work, and you can imagine the applause, but the leap in between stymies you? There can be a few reasons for that. Fear of business. Fear of failure. Comfort with living in the "I've created this" zone, and fear of moving out of it. 

I get it, I really do. But here's what I know. There can be many reasons to not share your work, but fear of the business side can't be one of them. 

I created Your Ladders to help performing artists bridge that gap--build their own ladders with the tools that I provide and teach. I'm focusing on performing artists because I've worked in the performing arts for over 30 years as an arts administrator, and arts management classes for almost 15 years.

I've broken the process down into three steps:

  1. Creating a plan
  2. Figuring out the money
  3. Letting folks know about the plan

Why do you you need a plan? What am I talking about with the plan? The plan is the foundation--the beginning of a business...

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