Renting Space in My Own Head

Three years ago I made a decision that changed everything. I signed the lease for 500 sqft of commercial space that I would share with a friend. At the time, I had nearly no art at all. I had a webcomic that was ongoing. I had a few watercolor paintings and drawings. That was about it. No actual income from art. I intended to use this space as a studio, to have a quiet place to go accomplish creative things.

That didn’t happen. I mean, I did go, even in the winter when there was nothing but five space heaters running constantly to keep it above freezing. I did go, and try to do art. But I didn’t do much art. I swept the floor. I rearranged the furniture. I listened to podcasts. I went and got lunch.

Eventually I would come back home, feeling rather defeated.

But I was still doing art. More art than ever. I was just doing it at home. While paying for studio space. So, add “crazy” and “selfish” to “defeated” and you’ll have a good idea of what was happening in my head.

Fast forward a few years, I’m in a bigger and better space, with art that’s thriving, a growing Arts Council I helped start and now run, and more creative direction and determination than I have ever experienced.

Why? How did this even happen? Especially since that first decision I made to rent space was a terrible one. I rented space I couldn’t neither use nor afford.

But by signing that lease, I committed to much more than 500 sqft. I was also taking part of the space in my head and leasing it to my dreams. Every time I thought about the seriousness that I needed to make something work, every time I felt bad about that commitment and resolved to find a way to make it work, I committed to the importance of keeping part of my brain working on the problem of how to discover who I really wanted to be as a creative person. I had to be determined to continue taking action as long as I was paying rent.

You might not be able to put money in for your dream, but you have to put in something of value. It doesn’t have to be the right decision. It only has to be visible, and tangible, and unavoidable. It has to force you to come to terms with what you know you want to do, and to keep trying for it. It probably won’t work out, but I promise it will move you forward.

Rent some space in your own head.

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