Last week I chatted about why boldness is such an important attribute for an artist and how you can better manifest boldness by adopting a “seven-word rule”—that is, by training yourself to say what you need to say and want to say in short, strong sentences. It also pays to begin to visualize using the seven-word rule in situations where currently you may be inclined not to act boldly or speak boldly. Let’s imagine some of those situations:

+ Someone drops you an email saying that she loves your work, though she can’t afford to buy any of it. Typically you might reply with a “Thank you” and leave it at that. The new, bolder you might reply, “Thank you. By the way [seven-word rule coming] might you tell your friends about me? I’d appreciate that!”

+ You are at a party, you find yourself chatting with someone about your art, and you have your usual difficult time explaining what it is you paint. The effort to explain yourself exhausts you and you have the sense that you haven’t done a very good job of it. In such situations it isn’t likely that you’re going to find some bold note to end on. But the new you manages to sound that bold note and says, “Would you like to visit my studio?” Rather than presuming that you’ve made a hash of your explanations, be bold and propose a visit!

+  Your sister asks you if you can take over minding your aging mother since “you don’t have a job.” You could meekly agree and lose several years of your life or you could say, “My painting is real work.” Then you might add, “Let’s work out something equitable among all us kids, since we all have jobs and lives.”

+ You meet someone who says that her blog for new mothers is very popular. You might reply, “Great!” or you might reply, “Great! [Seven-word rule coming] Might they be interested in my art?” Naturally, she is going to reply, “Gee, I don’t know, offhand I wouldn’t think so,” to which you get to reply at some length, “Yes, I understand, but let me tell you why they just might.”

+ You get an email from an artist you know announcing his participation in a group show. You could congratulate him or you could congratulate him and ask [seven-word rule coming], “Room for one more in the show?”

+ You read a blog post in an online magazine about something tangentially related to what you paint. You could nod to yourself and move on or you could drop the blogger an email and say, “Loved your post on firehouses! My art is right up that alley! {Seven-word rule coming]. Care to do a piece on me?”

Selling art, creating a brand, and fashioning a career are hard enough. Not being bold makes that harder still. Begin to ask yourself about every situation, “Is this a place for me to practice my new boldness?” You may be genuinely surprised to discover just how many such opportunities to act boldly and speak boldly are presented to you!


Eric Maisel’s latest book for artists is Secrets of a Creativity Coach. You can learn more about it here:

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