Anna Lovind is a feminist writer who believes in women’s creative freedom and the power of their voices and stories. She left a career as an editor at a major publishing house, moved to the deep forests of Sweden and set out to build a business that supports her own and other women’s pursuit of a meaningful and sustainable creative life. She has also coached bestselling authors, helped launch solo entrepreneurs into orbit, and guided creatives from all over the world to go from dreaming to doing through her courses and workshops. Anna is the author of The Creative Doer - A Brave Woman's Guide from Dreaming to Doing.
Anna, welcome to Moonflower Art!
What are some of the biggest barriers creatives face?
We have plenty of names for all the inner blocks and resistance we face as creatives, but most of them boil down to fear. We fear failure, judgment, being seen, NOT being seen, loss of control. We also fear discovering we don't have what it takes, or losing the dream. The key to dealing with these barriers is learning how to handle fear differently. Not by fighting it or overcoming it, but by learning how to cultivate a sense of safety so that we can move forward fear and all. Because the truth is that fear will always be along for the ride.
Then there are other barriers that aren't always in our control to change. This is about access to resources. Some people have less resources in terms of money, time, energy, support and this will affect the capacity to create. It doesn't mean we can't do anything, but it helps to recognize this, take the blame off yourself, and then get real about what you CAN do with the limited resources you have available. If 15 minutes a day is all you have, then that's what you work with. And if you truly commit to your work, you'll be surprised at what you can make happen in 15 minutes a day.
What are some of the common roadblocks on the path to creative fulfillment?
A big one I see all the time is that we bring our fucked-up relationship to productivity and striving into our creative work. Sustainable, joyful creative work is not just about doing it, it's about HOW we do it. If we're pushing and striving, draining all the joy out of the process in order to deliver and produce, as if we're machines, then what are we even doing? That's not what drew us to our creative work to begin with. Rather it was a desire to explore, to express ourselves authentically, to experience the joy of flow and co-creation, right?
In order for the creative process to stay alive, nourishing and wild, we need to unlearn most of what we've been taught about how to get things done. We need to trust the timing of our work - even when it's slower than we'd like. We need to trust who we are as creatives and the particular gifts we bring - even when it doesn't look like what other people are doing. We need to trust that if we take one step at a time we will get to where we need to go even if we can't see the end goal. We need to be present for guidance along the way, for adjustments and course-corrections. We need to be willing to fail and pursue dead ends in order to find our way. And so on.
Are these roadblocks self -imposed or are they societal?
Both. They start as external, societal norms and messages that are so all-pervasive that they have become what we consider normal, just "how things are." Eventually, we internalize them and begin to uphold these behaviors and practices ourselves, often without even being aware of it.
Why are creatives so incredibly hard on themselves?
Because we've been taught to be. School is one long lesson in not making mistakes, not fail, not do or say the wrong thing and not to deviate too much from the group. Most of us have also grown up in homes that have also enforced these values. Same with the majority of workplaces. No wonder we keep ourselves on such a tight leash. We expect ourselves to excel at what we do (preferably even before we've had a chance to learn it) otherwise we've failed. Equating mistakes and wrong turns with failure is one of the worst things we can do as creatives. In order to find our way to our true expression we need to try and fail a million times. There's no other way.
Then we can also carry individual stories of unworthiness and perfectionism and so on, that plays into this inner harshness, and that is something for each of us to explore and heal. Therapy is a good help, if that's available to you. But a good support network is also incredibly helpful. We are not meant to do this alone. Do you have people around you that are on a similar journey as you? Can you find some? It makes such a difference to be able to share these challenges with others on the same path. It makes us feel less alone and also helps us see that it's not just us - there's nothing wrong with us, we're just doing deep and vulnerable work and it will always be challenging.
I think of creative work as a co-creative process. We step into relationship with the work that wants to be born through us and our job is to be a good, trustworthy partner to it.
What are some tips to get creatives motivated and back on track in terms of defining dreams and starting the process?
I think of creative work as a co-creative process. We step into relationship with the work that wants to be born through us and our job is to be a good, trustworthy partner to it. How does a good partner behave? They show up when they say they will - or they let us know why if they can't. They do their share of the work. They are open to listening and changing their mind, when called for. They stay in touch - they don't just ghost the work for three months at a time and then come back and wonder why the flame has gone out. And so on. Looking at it like a relationship helps us understand what is needed for our creative work to flourish in the long term. Short term productivity hacks usually only work in the short term. What we want is to find ways to do our work that we are able to stay with over time.
And, very important: Expect to get sidetracked, to forget your commitment and lose touch with your work. It's inevitable and the less time you can spend on beating yourself up about it, the quicker you'll get back on track. Our job is not to never get lost, our job is to come back to our work - to our relationship with our work - over and over again.
What motivated you to focus on creativity as a life path and to help others?
The Creative process is just the most fascinating thing! To take something from idea to form. To bring something that doesn't exist into existence. I mean really, what a ride! And aside from wanting to learn more and dive ever deeper into the creative process, I also see a massive imbalance in our world today. The work, voices and contributions of women are overlooked. They are made invisible and irrelevant on so many levels and with such dire consequences. I want to help correct that imbalance by supporting women to step into their creative power and do their work.
Your book the Creative Doer is a must read for female creatives. What was your process in the writing of this book?
The Creative Doer actually started out as a course. I created it in a rush of inspiration back in 2015. Most of it concepts and teachings I definitely didn't live or embody yet. But I started teaching it and eventually grew into it and a couple of years in, I wanted to update the content with all the new thoughts and perspectives I'd gained and decided to do this in the form of a book. I figured this would be a quick thing, just edit the course content a bit! I ended up writing about 50% new content and rewriting all the rest but the book came out true and beautiful. I still feel that it is. Once it had been born, I updated the course content to match it as well and these teachings now exist both as a book and a course.
Any upcoming work or books on the horizon?
I'm working on my second book but it's too early to share anything about it yet. Soon, I hope! Apart from that I keep sharing my teachings through The Creative Doer course, and I've recently started a brand new, beautiful thing called Ignite. It's the simplest kind of membership. It’s for creatives who are tired and busy and overwhelmed and don't' need another course but still want that regular dose of inspiration and re-connection. It’s simply an ongoing series of live councils with a simple purpose: to help us stay connected to our work and ignite that creative fire inside of us, over and over again!
Visit Anna's website at https://annalovind.com/