Why do we tend to feel like an inspired, creative life is so out of reach? It’s because choosing to live like an artist can often look like the opposite of the way most people live. And this tends to be why most artists feel like outsiders and normies feel like artists are weirdos.

There is a blurry coffee mug and plant in the foreground, and pens, a laptop, and hands writing in a notebook in the background. The image says "13 Ways to Live Like an Artist."

Your artistic life meaning may be different than mine, and not everyone wants to live like an artist in the same way. But I do think there are some very universal ways to help you achieve a more creative lifestyle so you can live a creative life.

How to Live Like an Artist

Many people want to know how do you become an artist. Mostly, you just do it. And it starts by choosing to live an artistic life, but what does that look like?

It’s a lot simpler than you think. Here are 13 ways to live like an artist:

001: Romanticize the small stuff.

You can’t be creative if you don’t see beauty in anything. And like, sure. It can be hard to find beauty in a super mundane and boring routine. I don’t think I know a single person who could look at the beige walls of a corporate office and feel inspired.

That’s why you have to work extra hard and romanticize the small stuff. You have to make things more appealing than they really are. You have to create meaning and significance where maybe there isn’t any.

Grab a coffee on your lunch break and stand barefoot in the grass of a city park. Drive your car with the windows down and listen to your favorite song. Leave Post-Its in library books with notes about why you loved a specific line for the next reader.

Life will be unremarkable if you let it be unremarkable. Romanticize the little things and you’ll slowly start to shape your perception of reality and your creativity will start to charge up like a battery.

002: Question every fucking thing.

So many things are the way they are because people just go with the flow. If your goal in life is to be a very good employee or someone who met every typical life milestone, this is a good way to think.

But if you want to live like an artist, you have to question shit.

Ask why things are the way they are. Ask why people do things the way they do them. Ask why you feel compelled to do something. Ask where you can find more information.

I’m not saying this is going to lead to answers. In fact, it’s probably only going to lead to more questions. But it will stop you from going with the flow and doing things just because you think you should do them.

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003: Embrace the messy middle.

Art is about process and being an artist means you’re going to be stuck in the process a lot.

The process, whatever it happens to be, is something that you’re supposed to trust even though it constantly feels like it’s betraying you. Sure, you may wind up with a fantastic piece of art at the end, but it’s hard to feel that way when you’re stuck in the messy middle.

And guess what? Your life–the thing you’re actively living? That’s the messy middle. You may be remembered for your creativity and passion and art. Or you may not. You have no idea how this whole thing is gonna end. You can’t know the future.

But you can embrace that messy middle, trust the process of living your life, and keep going.

004: Reinvent and be yourself.

I feel genuine pity for people who are the same person they were in high school. These are generally the same people who have always done what they think they’re supposed to do. They’re also the people who get really confused and upset when they find someone doing something that doesn’t go with the flow.

You get to do whatever the fuck you want in life, so it only stands to reason that you should be whoever the fuck you want to be.

Here’s how I’ve done that:

Growing up, I was the punchline and people pleaser. I found it was easier to get through school by telling jokes about myself to others, and that made them seem to like me. Unfortunately, it also attracted a lot of toxic people who wanted a metaphorical punching bag in their friend groups.

So, I stopped that. As I got older, I embraced my Type-A personality and started setting goals for projects. I decided I wanted to be a person who did the fucking work and shared it with the world. I decided I was going to be a writer and not someone who made others feel comfortable by telling jokes all the time.

(I mean, I still tell jokes. But like, I don’t make myself the butt of them.)

And now when I run into people I used to know, it’s really fun to watch them try to use me as the joke punching bag because they are SHOCKED at how quickly I can turn those same jokes on them.

005: Set the standard.

This is just a super basic reminder that you get to do whatever the hell you want to do. Don’t worry about what others think you should be doing.

Your goal doesn’t have to line up with whatever your day job’s performance review says you should be working on. In fact, it probably never will.

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006: Live in The Fool, The Magician, and The High Priestess.

In the tarot, The Fool is about starting an adventure. The Magician is a card about making shit happen. And the High Priestess is a reminder that we have all the information we need through our intuition and inner wisdom.

Make the leap. Do the work. Trust your gut.

It’s worth noting that these are the first three cards in the major arcana, which means that they’re the first three steps in the majors story. All the success and big changes follow after.

007: Stare out the window.

I had a creative writing professor in college who reminded us often that sometimes the writing process is staring out the window. Yes, it’s about putting your butt in the chair and hands on the keyboard. But sometimes you have to refill the well.

If you’ve found that you’re in a cycle of hustle and working more than resting, schedule some window time. May I suggest making a pot of your favorite warm beverage, putting on a record, and looking out the window for a while? It’s one of my favorite ways to spend a Sunday morning.

008: Practice militant optimism.

Laurie, a woman I met through the wonderful world of blogging, used to sell stickers that said “practice militant optimism.” I had one on my old laptop and it was a great reminder.

I don’t have the sort of brain chemicals that keep me hopeful and my permanent Vitamin D deficiency is always a concern. But I do have the capacity for a can-do attitude, if only I have enough reminders to adopt one.

To live like an artist, you have to create. It’s impossible to create when you don’t see the point.

For me, militant optimism has been the only way around that.

009: Ignore outcomes.

Okay. So. Back to the messy middle. If you’ve been in the process long enough, eventually you’ll have some kind of product.

Will that product match the vision you had in your head before you started? Most likely not.

Will the reception that product receives be equal to the amount of energy you put into it? Never.

I have found that only the art that means the least to me looks the way I thought it would before I set out to create it. I have found that the work I care about the most gets little to no fanfare and the shit I fire off in a short amount of time is the most well-received.

This can be demoralizing if you pay attention to it.

010: Adopt a vibe first mentality.

If you’re going to live like an artist, you have to make your space inspiring. Focus on the vibe and the art will follow.

Consider this your permission slip to hang prints on the walls, light candles and burn incense, play music all day, and create altars to the shit you love. Bedeck your body in scarves and band t-shirts. Match your lipstick and nail polish to your mood.

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Create the vibe you wish to experience in the world, man.

011: Stay out of the discourse.

I used to be obsessed with Twitter. Then an idiot billionaire destroyed it.

At first I was sad. Now, I’m stoked. I have so much more time and energy to write and create now that I’m not watching the idle thoughts of thousands of people roll in all the fucking time.

You can’t make something if you’re so caught up in the discussions about the somethings that have been created. I’ve found that you’re either an artist or a critic. That isn’t to say that you can’t critique things if you’re an artist. But you can’t make shit consistently if all you do is talk about the other shit that’s being made.

012: Cut off crazymakers.

More on this in this post about crazymakers and energy pennies.

013: Prioritize your art.

At the end of the day, to live like an artist, you have to make art. And to make art in a world where you have less free time than medieval peasants is no easy feat.

Choose your art over the things that don’t matter. Choose creating for you over being a part of a thing that everyone is doing.

Even dedicating fifteen minutes a day to creating something can be a truly radical act when everyone else is using their free time to binge watch TV shows or doomscrolling through social media.

Writing Your Artist Life Story

Remember, you’re in charge of your life. And if reading that sentence made you push back because you feel like you don’t control anything, then you’ve got a lot of work to do, friendo.

Start now by writing down everything you want. Then, find the little ways you can work that into your day-to-day life. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. But I am saying it’s going to be worth it.

Then, it’s time to start writing your life into existence. Take one step every single day that gets you closer to that artist life you want.

It won’t be all forward progress and momentum building. In fact, it’s going to be one long trek through that messy middle. But if you want to live like an artist, then you’re cool with that, right?

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