If you go about your life feeling just slightly haunted by the sense that you’re failing your creative self… this is for you.

Be the Person Who Does the Thing

A version of yourself walks through the world with confidence.

The confidence that comes from finishing
the ambitious projects you care about.

What if...

Instead of falling asleep to reruns of Friends, ruminating on The Things I Haven't Done and The Bad Thing That Will Happen As A Result…

you could simply wake up excited about the possibilities
of what you’re working on? 

Instead of feeling an exciting new idea curdle and join its dusty, guilt-inducing brethren in your “maybe someday” pile…

you had the tools you need to face your inner critic,
and finish your projects without self-sabotage? 

Instead of feeling the guilt and pain of not doing the creative work piling on top of the guilt and pain of trying to do the creative work when there’s so much else to do…

you could find a way to get your creative work done while
still taking care of yourself and your family, without the guilt? 

Instead of only following through on what other people want you to do…

What if you could consistently follow through and

finish hard things

that are on no one’s agenda but your own?

When you find yourself standing next to the chips bowl at a party, and you run into a friend you haven’t seen since before the pandemic, and they ask you, “Hey, how’s that great project you told me about coming along?” 

What do you tell them? 

The truth?

"It's so bizarre, I was unstoppable when I was being paid to do this work, but now that I'm the only one I'm answering to, I'm paralyzed."

“I find myself spending all my time and energy helping other people. There’s no room left for my own creativity.”

“My project feels like it should be exciting and energizing, but the more I procrastinate and avoid it the more it becomes  a source of ongoing dread and shame…”

Or is it too painful to admit, and so you toss out a white lie and hope they take the hint while you die a little inside? 


“Slowly but surely, ha ha!”


“I’ve just been
super busy.”


“Oh, that, I’m not really into that anymore.”

Your creative projects are not a luxury…they are the path to your future

If you’re going to spend at least some of your time on the planet doing what matters to you most, you’d better actually start doing what matters most.

—Oliver Burkeman

Just because your work may not be bringing in a full time living—or any income at all! — does not mean that your frustrations with making time for it and finishing are #firstworldproblems.    

Deep in your core, you know this work is essential. I mean, if you could have stopped caring about your [book, start-up, performance, painting, music, film, quilting, new product, board game, graphic novel, or whatever form it takes] over these years (decades!) of struggle, you could have saved yourself a lot of pain. 

Not an option. 

It’s your right and your responsibility to self-direct your life and to choose to devote your time to the work that’s most important to you.    

Ambitious self-generated projects—and your ability to take control and see them through—are tools that you use to create a new reality where you ARE the person who does the thing.  

Here's the secret:

You don’t have to be “the person” BEFORE you do the thing… 

(In fact, that’s impossible)

Doing the thing
MAKES YOU THAT PERSON

Working steadily on your creative dream projects doesn’t just mean that you’ll actually get them finished—awesome enough on its own!

It’s a lot bigger than that 

Building creative work into your daily and weekly rhythms transforms who you are and how you show up in the world. 

It changes your identity. 

You aren't “working on a novel.” You ARE a writer. 

Not “trying to get my course launched.”  You ARE a course creator. 

No longer “researching how to launch a design business.” You ARE a designer. 

Doing turns into BEING. 

...And that’s kind of the problem.

Because when you’re NOT Doing the Thing, it can cause you fear you are in fact NOT “the Person.” 

Not feeling capable of finishing feels like a sign that somehow your dreamed-of, labored-over creative project isn’t valid or good enough or deserving of existence. 

That you DON'T have “latent potential”...

…just an overblown ego.

That maybe you could have pulled this off sometime in the mythical past, but isn’t it too late now? 

It feels like a Catch-22. 

It’s not. 

You’ve already made work. You’ve studied, earned degrees, endured painful setbacks, and celebrated successes. 

It’s not lack of talent, or drive, or experience that’s holding you back.

No. You know in your heart of hearts—despite the nattering self-doubt—that you’ve got all three nailed. 

You know you could do great things. 

If only you got out of your own way. 

If only you had a simple, repeatable method built around your UNIQUE reality to help you get the work finished, day by glorious day. 

Doing is transformational

When you are in motion, making your work…

You walk through your life knowing in your core:

You are the Person who Does the Thing. 

No one can take that from you. 


And from that core identity shift spring all kinds of positive changes. 

You can offer yourself compassion, instead of blame, when you blow a self-imposed deadline, and just keep consistently working towards the finish line. 

You can create and defend healthy boundaries with the people in your life so your priorities don’t get steamrolled. 

You can put work out into the world without anguishing over every detail. You don't quit or give up because you’re afraid the final product won’t meet some abstract standard.

You can make clear-minded decisions rooted in knowledge of what matters most to you so you don’t feel you have to justify yourself to anyone or second-guess yourself. 

You can feel a sense of autonomy and agency, free to experiment, pivot, implement on the fly, and feel a deep, abiding connection to the work in the moment. 

You can grow to trust your instincts, trust your creative community, and most importantly, to trust and believe in yourself

This is the new reality I want for you.

IrisandEcho-MTeicher-JessicaAbel-12

Hi - I’m Jessica Abel 

If you’re reading this, shaking your head, and going, How Does She Know?? 

Well, I’m not psychic. 

I’ve taught art school for 20+ years. I’ve coached almost 1000 mid-career creatives to help them create comics, podcasts, novels, academic publications, blogs, courses, films, businesses…    

…and more importantly, to own their identities as the makers and doers of all those things.  

And I’m a creative myself: a cartoonist and illustrator, author of a dozen books, and survivor of many a creative block and disastrous project. 

What infuriates—and motivates—me the most is when I see my students—both my undergrads and students in the Creative Focus Workshop—laboring to make their amazing work while bearing the weight of expectation that our culture lays on them.   

I refuse to perpetuate the myth of the lone genius that undermines our collective power.

I reject the minimization of the value of creative work that results in every other thing feeling so much more pressing and urgent…so that the important creative work never takes precedence.

I deny the infantilization of creative people that results in everyone else having the right to question our priorities and life choices.

It’s for my students and clients, and with them, that I developed the Creative Focus methodology, because each person has a unique set of circumstances, and a unique way of working. 

Integrating those factors with your vision is the key to a SUSTAINABLE, RESILIENT creative practice.

The three steps to becoming the Person who Does the Thing

flintwall - Michi Mathias

I'm honestly completely gobsmacked to find I can get stuff done!!  

Process? Ha! Before the Creative Focus Workshop, I would come up with drafts, but not get much further (unless for paid commissions, in which case they would get done because there was a deadline).

It's still hard to understand exactly how it all worked, but I knew I really really wanted to get my book done. I realized it was actually possible, and the deadline was set.

These Idea Debt objects just sat on the shelf, for years, collecting dust. Until—I guess it’s just a change of mindset—believing it’s possible.

Just deciding. Yes, I will actually do it.

- Michi Mathias, cartoonist

1. Commit to taking action

I know this is the hardest step! 

When brutal experience has taught you to doubt that the work you dream of is in your reach, or that the creative career you want is possible, it’s bloody hard to let yourself try again. 

And if there were any other option, I’d say, hey, be kind to yourself. Let it go. 

But what’s the alternative, resigning yourself to never having the space and time to act on creative impulses? 

Never escaping a soul-sucking jobby-job and returning to a creative career? 

Never, ever getting to breathe deep and live with full confidence that you are in fact the person who actually does the thing

F*** that noise.

Our mantra here at Autonomous Creative is courage before confidence.

That means taking action on your work even if you’re not sure you can really pull it off.

(BTW: You can.)

But you don’t have to do it alone! It also means being willing to rely on community and to be vulnerable about the feelings that are holding you back with people who will support you through the hardest part: (re-)starting.

2. Lay groundwork based on your actual reality 

You’re a single parent. Or you have a job. Or you have a chronic illness. Or you’re neurodivergent. 

There is no point in trying to ignore or shove aside the realities of your life and plan your creative work as if it were your full-time job and you had a devoted spouse delivering meals to your doorstep …y' know, so as not to disturb your flow. 

To act on your decisions, you must truly trust and believe in them

And that requires that those decisions be rooted in acknowledgment of your lived reality. 

That’s what makes it possible to AVOID being swamped and demoralized by a sense of “failure” because you piled on a totally unrealistic list of all the things you "should" do. 

That’s how you break the cycle of thinking, I’ve got time, what should I do? Then when the time is up, having nothing to show for it, and feeling like, What's wrong with me, why can’t I do this?

Darlene Ryan

I've put together a system that I can trust

The CFW has been worth the time and the energy. I was iffy at the start, and I was even iffy in the middle, but then I realized it was working, that it had already started working, and it really made a difference for me.

I like that I've put together a system that I can trust. I'm writing this outline, and I'm actually going to write this book! I'm going to write the first chapter, and I'm going to write the 24th chapter.

I might actually have to write this book now! That's kind of scary!

The fact that I'm actually working on this—it's amazing, and it's because the system actually works!

- Darlene Ryan, novelist and author

syne mitchell

I find myself leaping out of bed with a triumphant "finally!"

Leaving a task half-done is super effective! It turns that part of my brain that can't let go of something that bugs me into a motivational super power. I stop when there's an easy fix (i.e. changing the color of lettering) and find myself leaping out of bed with a triumphant “Finally! I can fix it!” the next day.

- Syne Mitchell, writer and comics artist

3. Design your system

Once you’ve decided what works for you, and when and how you want to build creative work into your life, the only remaining step is to…actually do it. 

But this time, it’s no longer a case of trying to wrangle your unruly butt into that chair by pure force of will. 

You won’t be trying to hold yourself to some punishingly perfect standard that doesn’t have any relationship with how you really live and work, and breathing yourself up when you “fail.”

We all know none of that works.

Instead, you’ll use the clear, confident decisions you’ve made about the way you work best and your highest priorities, and you’ll DESIGN a new way of engaging with your work. 

I can’t predict exactly what this new way will look like, because it will be totally unique to you. It will be built to address all the spots where you get stuck and distracted, and to reinforce and support your entry points to creative flow. 

The work is never “easy”—not if it’s worth doing. 

But when it is simply what you do every day, that’s when you know: 

You are the Person who Does the Thing. 

So if you’ve gotten this far, and you’re going, “Yes, of course, Yes, 100%! BUT come on…HOW??” 

…Then you’re exactly, precisely,
who I made this for. 

Finish hard things that are on no one's agenda but your own with

The Creative Focus Workshop 

The Creative Focus Workshop is the only complete, step-by-step course and group coaching program specifically designed for creative people to put the regular practice of creative work at the center of their lives. So you can finish the work that matters most. 

The Creative Focus Workshop
YOU GET:
  • 6 months of full access to the CFW and the Autonomous Creative Collective membership community
  • 11 complete, step-by-step training modules, in text and audio, available as soon as you log in
  • Two private podcast feeds: All the lessons, and a separate feed for the coaching calls that goes back years! Listen on the go, on your schedule, never miss anything or waste time trying to find recordings
  • Robust, in-depth workbook so that you can build on your wins and track progress
  • Vibrant community of fellow creatives on the same path with multiple facilitated opportunities for collaboration and support
  • Monthly live group coaching sessions
  • Weekly discussion topics and challenges so you can continue leveling up
Samantha Hodder, host and creator of the podcast This is Our Time, about women in STEM banding together to make big changes in the climate change battle

YOUR COURSE WORKS!!  

 I still have the fading Post-It note on my wall beside my desk that says “Create Season One of Podcast and make it awesome, and organized, and exciting." I am doing essentially that.

The podcast is called This is Our Time, and it follows the journey of five women who go on the largest-ever all-female expedition to Antarctica. As a result of doing this story, I have been invited to Antarctica on the second expedition, and I leave in ten days!  

 - Samantha Hodder, podcaster

andre-hedetoft

You're going to see your life transformed.

I look back and I realize that my God, I was working so differently six months ago. There are things I do and tools I have that make every day really, really much better.

What you will find out, like I did, is that you can read about this as much as you like. But not before you're actually in a workshop, doing the assignments each week, having this community around you, having Jessica to lead all of this—that's where you're going to see your life being transformed. So if you're on the fence, I would say don't think about it, just join. And you can thank me three months from now if you take my advice.

 - André Hedetoft, film director

The three pillars of Creative Focus

The Creative Focus Workshop life presetver logo

The course

coaching

Coaching and accountability

community acc

The community

The key difference in why the Creative Focus Workshop is so effective for creative people with full, busy lives is a principle I like to call the “flexible container.”

Creatives want accountability built into the program because they’ve struggled in the past. Yet mindless enforcement leads to painful self-blame—which is totally counter-productive. It causes you to fall into a shame spiral, which will stop you cold.

With the Creative Focus Workshop we’ve built a unique blend of access-anytime online course and vibrant, active community, with live coaching and robust peer support that’s designed to both keep you on track and encourage you through the tough parts, as well as provide enough flexibility so that when life happens—and it always does!—it’s simple and quick to get back on the horse and keep riding.

inside our program

Stop spinning your wheels and get into gear with the Creative Engine

Graphic of the Creative Engine framework for creative productivity. Four phases: Collect, Decide, Act, Reflect. In the center, a cog depicting Habits & accountability

Our signature system, the Creative Engine, is a robust, endlessly reusable framework for consistently finishing challenging projects, learning from missteps, and building on your successes. 

When you harness the power of your Creative Engine you’ll diagnose what’s causing the blocks that stop you. And you’ll master the tools and strategies to overcome those blocks so you can FINISH and get your amazing work out into the world.

Phase 1: Collect

Explore the deep roots of your creative life so that your decisions and actions are rooted in your own history and values. 

  • Identify where all the time goes…and let me show you how to start reeling it back in to make it yours again (Module 1).
  • The 3-step process to confidently pinpoint which projects most deserve your attention right now (Module 2).
  • Why your own best moments are the best guide to building a master pattern for your creative life (Module 3).
  • How to stop playing whack-a-mole with your to-do list (Module 4).
Phase 2: Decide

Set yourself on a path forward that inspires you to action. 

  • The simple, transformational technique to use empathy to turn the volume way down on your inner critic (Module 5).
  • The method to motivate lasting commitment to your projects that beats resolutions or even goals (Module 6).
  • How to use everything you’ve learned so far to focus your energy on finishing your most important project (Module 7).
Phase 3: Act
  • How to utilize the key technique for building anxiety-free daily creative practice into your life even when (especially when) you’re working without a deadline (Module 8).
  • Why integrating all the non-creative domains of your life is actually the key to devoting more time than ever to your creative work (Module 9).
  • Why you’re far ahead of where you think you are when it comes to “productivity systems”—and how to painlessly level up (Module 10).

Robust support to actually execute on those decisions and plans, and get the truly important work finished. 

Phase 4: Reflect

Reflection is the key to going from "trying" to do your creative work to embodying the truth that you are The Person Who Does the Thing. 

  • The one tool that can prevent you from needing to “reinvent the wheel” ever again (Module 11).
  • Two key practices that will lock in your progress long term (The ACC community).
  • 12 step-by-step deep dives into how to uplevel your creative practice (ACC Themes)
rauni higson

Happy days! I’m changing my chaotic ways

Slowly but surely, I'm changing my chaotic ways.

For the first project I've completed with the aid of Creative Focus, the deadline was today, and I reverse engineered my plan from the that date.

I got an email from the curator: “Early....??! Wow! Is this a new year's resolution?”

That felt like a win!

Happy days. Next?!

- Rauni Higson, silversmith

michael wittmann

I feel so powerful at this moment, it is unbelievable

Before the Creative Focus Workshop, I felt desperate. I would not produce anything without an external deadline. And even with a deadline I usually did not manage to finish anything more complex than illustrations or single-page comics or cartoons. For years I have aborted all projects of multi-page comic stories.

It’s amazing, the progress I’ve made.

When I chose my One Goal, I pushed to make it the most ambitious thing I could think of. And now I’ve done it! Amazing! I feel so powerful at this moment, it is unbelievable.

 - Michael Wittmann, cartoonist

Here's how you know this time will be different: You'll get the most out of the Creative Focus Workshop because you don't have to go it alone.

Get the support of a vibrant community of fellow creatives walking the same path
ACC logo trans

Your peer “mastermind”:
The Autonomous Creative Collective

At the heart of the Creative Focus Workshop are the amazing colleagues you’ll meet inside. In our community, you’ll find an incredible network of fellow creatives who care as much as you do about getting this right.

This is hard work that requires going deep.

It’s easier—and more joyful—when you’re not alone.

The Creative Focus Workshop

You’ll realize: You are not alone. You are not weird.

And when you believe you need to devote energy to building a sustainable creative life, you are not wrong.

We bond together to help one another. 

community

A six-month membership to the Autonomous Creative Collective is included with the Creative Focus Workshop

And when you finish the CFW, you'll have the option to remain subscribed to the Autonomous Creative Collective to support your developing creative process, building relationships with other creative people as committed as you are, for as long as you need it, for a monthly fee of $30.

The Autonomous Creative Collective hosts The Creative Focus Workshop

Why is it so awesome that the Creative Focus Workshop is a part of the Autonomous Creative Collective?

Our students tell us the community is the single most important factor in their success and a huge part of why Creative Focus has changed their creative careers and their lives. With the ACC you tap into the immense value and support of a curated community of creative people working with you side-by-side on building the work into their daily lives.

The CFW is located in the heart of a vibrant, active, supportive community of serious creatives and creative business owners, called the Autonomous Creative Collective (ACC). Everything is in one place, so you can seamlessly move from learning to discussion to live events, and back again.

WE ARE NOT ON FACEBOOK.We use a private platform designed from the ground up around the needs of private communities like ours. No ads, no distraction, just your fellow members and laser focus on the work you are committed to doing.

Onboarding Qs in the ACC + CFW

LIVE meetings and support: As part of your membership, you have access to monthly live coaching calls with Jessica Abel. Every week there are a wide variety of peer-led coworking, discussion, accountability, and shop talk sessions. You can design your own sessions tailored to what you need support and feedback on right now. 

You’ll also get monthly themes, challenge posts, group discussions, chats, and you can flow into and out of these conversations as it fits into your daily life. Our mission as community leaders is to foment conversations that will get you thinking—and acting—every week.

ACC Weekly Questions

The Autonomous Creative Collective is our secret sauce

It’s the key to the continual improvement, release from anxiety, and amazing accomplishments our students see every week.

The truth of designing a sustainable, resilient, joyful creative life for yourself is that it's a lifelong process that will change and go deeper as you master the challenges that face you today. And the Autonomous Creative Collective is designed to support you through exactly that kind of leveling-up

ACC - A space for real support and understanding
Our warm and welcoming community!

Doing is transformational. Let's do this together!

With the primary lessons in the Creative Focus Workshop and the empathetic support of the Autonomous Creative Collective, you’ll have everything you need to get unstuck and truly take control of your creative life. 

But sometimes, you'll face an issue that resists solution. It’s the kind of thing that calls out for creative measures! Which is why you’ll love…

bonuses

SIX included bonus lessons

Each of these shows up EXACTLY when they’ll be most useful in your CFW process.

You'll learn: 

  • Why a 1” square of paper can be pivotal to escaping creative block (Clearing Major Obstacles).
  • 21 ways to make doing hard things easier (Defeating Distractions).
  • Five steps to decoding why a project just doesn’t seem to budge, no matter what you do (The Five Whys).
  • How to create incentives that work to keep you on track to your goals (Development and Success Markers).
  • The six questions you need to ask yourself to pinpoint the task management system most suited to you (Task Management Tools Roundup).
  • My personal fave: A kind of magical approach to making starting your practice easier (not to mention creating a clear work, non-work guardrails) (The Shut-Down Routine)!
maggie winnall

I am a FINISHER

I’m no longer a procrastinator; I’m a finisher.

I described myself as a "finisher" because over time I have closed open loops on many partially done quilt projects.

I finished a huge quilt I started 30+ years ago. I’ve competed 18+ small quilts and have refined my studio space.

I’m proud of what I’ve done.

I’m not sure at what point the scales tipped from "procrastinator" over to "finisher" but finisher I am.

- Maggie Winnall, quilt creatrix

Lisa F

The CFW has flipped my creative life 180°

Before, I was afraid to commit to my life as an artist fully, and would only work under extremely high pressure. This system led to results, but also to multiple mini burn outs every year.

Now, my artistic life has changed 100% in comparison. I am no longer afraid. Instead, I wake up looking forward to start my creative day. I don't need the high pressure anymore, thanks to habits and rhythms I created. The prioritizing tools I learned, help me sort my thoughts – so I know what to do when I start feeling overwhelmed by my ideas and aspirations.

I joined the CFW for a sprint, but the content was so influential that I stayed much longer than anticipated. I confidently predict that the systems and strategies I learned will influence my creative life for decades to come.

- Lisa Frühbeis, cartoonist and graphic recorder

The Creative Focus Workshop life presetver logo

Get the tools, encouragement, and accountability you need to become the Person Who Does the Thing

Best Value

$750 $595

Save $65 with a single payment

YOU GET:
  • 6 months of full access to the CFW and the Autonomous Creative Collective
  • 11 complete, step-by-step training modules, available as soon as you log in
  • Two private podcast feeds: All the lessons, and a separate feed for the coaching calls that goes back years! Listen on the go, on your schedule, never miss anything or waste time trying to find recordings.
  • Robust, in-depth workbook so that you can build on your wins and track progress
  • Vibrant community of fellow creatives on the same path with multiple facilitated opportunities for collaboration and support
  • Monthly live group coaching sessions
  • Weekly discussion topics and challenges so you can continue leveling up

Most Flexible

$140 $110

per month for 6 months

YOU GET:
  • 6 months of full access to the CFW and the Autonomous Creative Collective
  • 11 complete, step-by-step training modules, available as soon as you log in
  • Two private podcast feeds: All the lessons, and a separate feed for the coaching calls that goes back years! Listen on the go, on your schedule, never miss anything or waste time trying to find recordings.
  • Robust, in-depth workbook so that you can build on your wins and track progress
  • Vibrant community of fellow creatives on the same path with multiple facilitated opportunities for collaboration and support
  • Monthly live group coaching sessions
  • Weekly discussion topics and challenges so you can continue leveling up

PLUS:
AV-CFW

Plus: Bundle the Creative Focus Workshop with our jargon-free course for creatives who (think they) hate marketing, Authentic Visibility, for the lowest price available:

$200 off the full price for AV

$795 $595

As soon as you complete your enrollment for the Creative Focus Workshop, you'll be invited to bundle enrollment in Authentic Visibility on the next page!

The Creative Focus Guarantee

guarantee

I’m utterly confident that you’ll gain traction on your big creative dream projects in the Creative Focus Workshop, but I know you’ve been struggling a long time to put your creative work front and center, where it belongs, and you’ve faced setbacks before. I want to make it as easy as humanly possible for you to say “I am SO IN.”   

Thus the Creative Focus Guarantee.   

Take a full 14 days to start your deep dive into your creative work.   

If after two weeks you haven’t identified ways to work smarter, felt a jolt of energy in your creative practice, and uncovered layers of useful truths about yourself and your ambitions…  

…Then I’ll absolutely want you to have your money back. You can get a full refund for the CFW, simply by emailing us to ask.

Plus: Choose to bundle with Authentic Visibility
at our lowest price ever

Launch your FINISHED projects to eager fans

AV + CFW

Authentic Visibility is a marketing course for creatives who are DONE treating their most important work like a secret identity

In Authentic Visibility, you’ll get simple, clear methods to build a passionate audience using empathy and creativity, in full alignment with your ethics and values, and clear self-defined boundaries to protect your safety.

Our approach to building visibility is aligned with the concerns of artists and self-employed creatives, not B-school bros and Instagram influencers. 

This program is designed to give you a strong mastery of the essentials of creating aligned, authentic messaging and a streamlined marketing plan for your work

You can learn and implement at your own pace, so that you never fall into the overwhelm trap. 

Authentic Visibility and the Creative Focus Workshop go together like chocolate and peanut butter — and if you choose to upgrade to include AV when you enroll in the Creative Focus Workshop, you’ll be able to access this powerful course at the lowest price I’ve ever offered.

With Authentic Visibility, you can:

  • Stop shooting in the dark and see actual results directly related to your intentional actions.
  • Feel confident in talking about your art, writing, or creative work to any audience.
  • Build buzz and a reputation so that your platform builds its own momentum.
  • Customize your plan for your life circumstances and align it with your vision instead of cramming more stuff in your "should do" list.
  • Create an offer that gets a clear, positive response.
  • Lose your fear of asking for a sale, and so you’ll sell more, and more easily.
  • See your work make a difference in people’s lives.
As soon as you complete your enrollment for the Creative Focus Workshop, you'll be invited to bundle enrollment in Authentic Visibility on the next page!
annette headshot

I went from my courses being a side-hustle to making more than 75% of my income from them within 5 months.

When I started Authentic Visibility, I thought I knew exactly who my customers for my brand new venture were, and what my price point should be.

Turns out I was wrong—in the best way! In the end, I found my real market. Communication has been so much more comfortable AND I was able to more than double my prices and book MORE than before!

I went from my courses being a side-hustle to making more than 75% of my income from them within 5 months.

I wouldn’t have learned this anywhere else— as a rebel creative CFW & AV spoke to me in a way nothing before ever had.

- Annette Tomei, food & beverage educator

Erik Loyer, alum of the Creative Focus Workshop

Authentic Visibility connects marketing to who you are as a creative

When I tried marketing in the past, it felt separate: I make the thing and then I market it. And when I'm ready to market it, at the very end of the process, it almost never results in anything. And then I’m frustrated and think ‘I'm bad at marketing.’

But Authentic Visibility connects marketing to who you are as a creative person — that just makes it all different. It just makes it feel better.

I'm producing a pilot interactive comic for a streetwear-themed mobile game [...] this gig came in the door the DAY AFTER I started promoting my updated portfolio site, so I would definitely count it as an AV success story.

- Erik Loyer, software artist

Hi there. You’ve got hesitations, don’t you? 

No, I’m not psychic. I just know that no one gets this far down the page if they’re not both:

  1. Pretty dang intrigued
  2. Wrestling with big questions about whether—after everything!—this could possibly work for you. 

And that is a very positive sign: You’re taking this seriously and asking the kind of incisive questions that will serve you well when you decide to join the Creative Focus Workshop. Meanwhile, though, let’s dive in. 

“What if I’m not finishing because I’m just not talented enough, and so my work isn’t worth my investment?”

I hear this a lot, often from people who suffer under the burden of a conflicting self-image of being “high-achieving” or being told they’re “gifted,” so they feel they can never live up to that standard.

It breaks my heart every time.

This is a real—and tragic—Catch-22. When you're trapped in this belief, you can only know you’re “talented” once you finish and get raving external validation in the form of reviews, sales, awards (and of course, what constitutes enough validation to prove you’re worthy is a rapidly moving target).

…but if you’re not finishing your work, then, by definition, you can't get external validation, which means you’re “not talented,” thus your work doesn’t deserve your time and attention.

It’s like the Puritan doctrine of “predestination” that said people are born saved or damned, and nothing they do on Earth can change that.

The existential anxiety of not knowing whether you were going to Heaven or Hell is what drove the Puritans to be so…Puritan. They were trying to prove to others AND to themselves that they were the good kind, but there was literally no way to know until after they died, thus the moving goalposts, constant anxiety, and fear of failure.

To say I don’t buy that garbage is an understatement.

Your creative work is your birthright.

Talent—to the extent it even exists—doesn’t come into it.

"I feel nervous about spending this money even though I earn so little from my creative work.”

First of all, if this investment presents a genuine hardship for you, then this is probably not the right time to join the Creative Focus Workshop. The CFW doesn’t require massive investment of time to be effective, but it does require that you go deep and focus on your creative life…and that kind of space is hard to create when you’re—rightly—focused on feeding your family.

However, if you can actually afford the investment, but it just feels like a crazy indulgence…

(Or maybe getting help feels like failure?)

…Then the real question is probably something more like, “is my work worth the investment?”

Sound familiar? Pretty similar to the first question.

Short answer: YES. You deserve to make your work.

Longer answer: Feeling this way is not your fault. You’ve been hoodwinked into questioning the value of your creativity by messages you’ve heard all your life.

One of the most destructive myths we suffer under is that creative work is only valid if you're paid for it.

That myth lives in your head, making you doubt the value of what you do. You hear it from other people, too, dismissing your work like it’s some kind of silly hobby.

But expressing your creativity is more akin to eating and sleeping than working a job.

It’s part of your humanity.

That’s not to say that your work isn’t worth paying for (of course it is!), it’s that the work is a priori valuable—the value exists whether or not any money changes hands.

It exists because it makes life better.

People may pay you for it.

They may not.

Whether or not that happens is simply irrelevant to the questions of:

Do you deserve to make it?

Does it deserve a place in your life, honor, attention?

The answer to those questions is a resounding YES.

“But I'm so busy! I’m worried about whether I can commit the time and energy to get the most out of the program.” 

I get it. Busy is just the default state of a functioning adult at this point, and so much more so if you’re ALSO trying to fit work on ambitious, future-building creative projects into the intense demands of your everyday life.

Of course, you do need to take action to get value out of this program. But the actions you take don’t need to be anywhere near as comprehensive as you fear to have an outsized effect.

Even if you have no luxury of time to devote to this, you can get very good results in about 90 minutes to 2 hours a week.

And, if that’s just too crazy, there’s an absolute minimum-viable level you can do in about 30 minutes a week, while still getting extremely solid results.

Your access to both the course materials and the community in the Autonomous Creative Collective are six months by default. But you can become an ongoing member at that point, and can go through the CFW lessons as slowly as you need to.

But here’s the thing: You’re here because your creative projects are intensely important to you, yet you manage to focus on just about everything BUT those projects. They’re simply not getting done.

Turning this situation around will take time and attention.

That’s only an impossible conundrum if you let it be. You know this situation is unsustainable.

I promise on my end to spare you from fluff and reams of useless “information” — which means in turn that every minute you devote to designing and implementing your new creative practice will have an exponential payoff.

So, yes, you’ve got to free up a bit of time in the short term, but I can then help you free up more time—time you can devote to your work—in the long term.

“I’ve tried so many things to help me get my creative work done, how will the Creative Focus Workshop be any different?”

I hear you. You wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t already been concerned with finishing your creative projects, and that means it probably feels like you’ve tried everything (and when nothing seems to work, that you’re a lost cause).

Weirdly, your long journey into night is a GOOD thing. Because it means you’re very familiar with where you hit your biggest stumbling blocks. And if you’re going to build your customized approach, gaining focus and getting your work done, that’s exactly what you need to know.

Your post-CFW method will be different in a key way from every other productivity and time-management “hack” you’ve come across. It will be based specifically on YOU: what your real life contains already, the kind of work you actually do, and the way you work best. Your personal system will jettison unneeded complexity, and support you specifically where you need support.

That one phase where you always fall off the wagon? That is where we’ll get to work, and build a support system that functions for you.

“I’ve been trying to do this for so many years, and I feel like it’s too late for me!”

You’ve been trying for a long time, I know. And things have not been coming together for you. You’re too crazy-busy, too overwhelmed, and when you do manage to scrape together a few minutes, your self-doubt gremlins have a field day, and it’s back to square one.

When they join, Creative Focus Workshop members typically have been trying to work things out for themselves, by themselves, for way too long. We have members as young as in their mid-20s, but most members are 35-65, and we have members in their 70s as well. We are a community of people who have a lot of amazing experience to share, we know the value of living a life full of creativity, and we deeply understand the pain that stems from being creatively stuck. 

Ask yourself, whatever age or stage of your life you’re in: If you don’t take action now to change your baseline paradigm, what will your life look like in a month, a year? 

What’s the upside of waiting?

As the old saying goes: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

Start building a creative practice that is resilient, stable, and productive today. 

You know it’s time to make a change. Don’t wait.

tabitha orr

I have given myself permission to focus instead of feeling overwhelmed

CFW was truly one of the best things I have ever done for my creative career. 

I had to dig deep to discover what I wanted.  Working on my current project I feel like I have given myself permission to focus instead of feeling overwhelmed with all the shiny artistic possibilities.

As a creator who is always a work in progress this remains a roadmap I find myself referring to frequently.

- Tabitha Orr, artist

Dean Johnson, alum of hte Creative Focus Workshop

Family and friends could hardly believe the changes for the better

I abandoned my first response about the Creative Focus Workshop, because it was sounding really over the top with how many positive changes it got rolling in my life. It was about the transformations in my home and home office…and yard, actually. It just helped me clean everything up.

Knowing I could diagnose my own efficiency pitfalls, I had the confidence to ask for a salary with this super efficient home designer, thus giving me an instant full-time client base and a stable income. It's a wonderful feeling.

- Dean Johnson, residential designer

ask questions

Why you don’t need a wide-open schedule to start Doing the Things, and answers to other FAQs

I'm a [writer, podcaster, cartoonist, filmmaker, speaker, copywriter, visual artist, musician, creative entrepreneur…], and my project is [ ]. Will the Creative Focus Workshop be able to help me?

The funny thing about self-generated creative work is that the issues we confront when trying to devote time to it are the same, no matter what the nature of the work actually is.

When I help an illustrator who wants to write a children's book fit that speculative and future-focused work into her current life full of client work, it works exactly the same way as when I help a consultant who wants to make time to write and record a DIY course to offer her audience, but struggles to make time for it alongside her busy onsite training schedule.

The professional podcast producer who wants to launch his own show faces the same struggles as the full-time parent trying to finish her dissertation.

In all of these cases, as in your case, life is already full, with work, relationships, and caretaking. But the ambition to do more, to be more, drives the need to make fundamental change in how you're living.

So yes, whatever your self-generated creative endeavor, the Creative Focus Workshop is for you. 

Don’t believe me? We’ve got members working in dozens of creative fields: 

Didn't you write a book about this? How is the Creative Focus Workshop different?

Yes, I did. And, full disclosure: many topics in the CFW are covered in my book, Growing Gills. You CAN learn how to get your projects done on your own, if you're a self-starter and can really stick to a program by yourself.

But you probably recognize there's a big difference between reading a physics textbook, and learning physics from a professor, with classmates, lab sessions, feedback on your problem sets, and study sessions built in.

What the CFW offers that's unique and valuable is that you move through the program with the backing of a committed community of ambitious creators who offer community, accountability, and feedback.

And this is important: STAKES.

If you put this on your calendar and join a group that's actively working together, you're not likely to sit idly by and do nothing.

If you pay for this, you're not likely to let the opportunity pass.

There's so much research behind this idea. We simply don't value things that we get for free like we do when we pay for them. 

We don't follow through on things that are difficult (especially emotionally difficult) when left on our own.

Your investment of time and attention (and, yes, money) is what will change things for you.

Students who have been trying to do this stuff on their own for years (and who knew all the big productivity books chapter and verse — we've even taught a fair number of professional project managers!), and who were consistently failing to make it work…have started the CFW and almost immediately started making their work regularly.

Do I get support, community, or access to coaching?

Yes! The Autonomous Creative Collective is a robust, fully-featured membership community full of accomplished, serious creatives, alumni of the Creative Focus Workshop and familiar with the methodology.

We work together to rise together. It's much more than your average Facebook group (starting with: it's NOT on Facebook!), with monthly themes, weekly challenges, virtual coworking, Member Mixers, and more.

Jessica and her assistant coaches are in the community most days, and there are live video group coaching sessions twice a month, open to all CFW members.

What is the time commitment per week?

That is entirely up to you. The more you put in, the more you get out, but you can do this course at your own pace. You could spend anywhere from 30 minutes to four hours a week on the CFW, and the main difference would be how fast you see results.

I have a day job/night job/crammed schedule/I live in the opposite time zone. Will I be able to engage with the program?

You can finish this program from anywhere in the world, on your schedule. 

You can complete lessons from your couch, kitchen table, or in a cafe. The entire program is online, so as long as you have an internet connection, you can access it. There’s even a robust app for your mobile devices.    

There are members all over the world, which means conversations in the Autonomous Creative Collective (and accountability partner meetings) can happen at any time, day or night. 

The only elements of the program that are live are the monthly live coaching calls. If you’re unable to attend live, you can post your questions ahead of time and come back on your schedule to get answers in the replays!

Do I get lifetime access to the course material?

No, your access is included in your course fee for six months.

Why is this the case? Because procrastination is the enemy. It's what we're trying to defeat. And when people join courses with lifetime enrollment, they're a lot less likely to finish!

However, the coursework is only one part of what you get as a member of the Autonomous Creative Collective, and there are so many reasons to stick around. As an alum of the Creative Focus Workshop you'll be invited to remain a member, with full access to the course materials, for as long as you like afterwards, enjoying the support and companionship of our robust community, for a membership fee of $30/month.

What are the program dates?

The program begins on the day you enroll, and your included access lasts six months. After that, you're invited to remain part of our ongoing support and accountability community (and retain access to your CFW course materials!) for a monthly membership fee of $30.

What happens at the end of the 6-month CFW membership?

For the six months of the program, you'll have full access to all of the course materials and the incredible Autonomous Creative Collective. 

When that three months ends, you will be eligible to enroll in the Autonomous Creative Collective as an ongoing, alumni member at the end of your six month enrollment. You retain access to the Creative Focus Workshop as long as you're a member of the Autonomous Creative Collective!

Is it really risk free?

Yes! We want you to feel safe jumping into the course. If, within 14 days of your enrollment, you don't feel that it's valuable to you, we'll happily refund you.

victoria lansford

I gained a much deeper understanding of how I work, why I had become so crispy-fried burnt out, and what I can do about it

I thought, having already made it through most of Growing Gills that the workshop would finally push me into being more disciplined. Ironically, what it showed me was that I am way too disciplined. I know how to get stuff done, no question, but I have a long and lousy track record of doing it in any sort of sustainable, nurturing way. Just ask my physical therapist.

If you had told me at the beginning that I would come to love planning my day with a magic marker, a fountain pen, and a handmade sketchbook, I’d have rolled my eyes like slot machines.

Now here I am with a profound understanding that I was caught in an endless loop of checking things off and closing loops about my work, but not actually doing my work in any way that felt meaningful or interesting.

- Victoria Lansford, artist, educator, and author

Marianne-Kirby

It's self-respect as a writer, and taking myself seriously, and allowing myself to take my own work seriously

I had always had a really huge problem with defining myself as a novelist. Even with books published, even with an upcoming novel, I still had that question in the back of my head. I can't tell if I thought it was pretentious or if I just didn't think I was good enough.

And in the Creative Focus Workshop, maybe it was just the practice of saying, I’m Marianne Kirby, I'm a novelist, and get you can get my second book as soon as it comes out…that really flipped the switch for me of, I don't want to say self-respect…but, you know what?

It is. It's self-respect as a writer, and taking myself seriously, and allowing myself to take my own work seriously.

That is still the biggest thing that I feel as a result. It has changed a lot about how I'm approaching my work, and how I am talking about my work to others.

- Marianne Kirby, body activist and novelist

Time to close the gap

Let’s get real. Gazing across the void at alternate-reality you, over there doing the work you want to be doing, living the life you want to live…it sucks.   

And you know what? Focusing on what you’re not doing? It actually stops you from closing the gap.   

It’s time to stop dreaming and wondering and worrying…And start acting   

You act your way into a new kind of thinking, you can’t think your way into a new way of acting.   

Nothing in this course is rocket science. I’m not some kind of creative productivity genius who pulled this stuff out of the clear blue sky. You can find most of the elements we use in the course in some form in my book Growing Gills or, hell, in my blog. If you’re the DIY type, those resources are there for you.   

But if you have not been able to change the paradigm of your creative life on your own, I hope you’ll consider joining me and this incredible community of fellow artists, writers, and creatives to build a new approach and banish that black cloud that haunts your creative ambitions.   

Guidance, clarity, simplicity, community, accountability   

This is what you get in the Creative Focus Workshop that you don’t get when you’re trying to make things work on your own.   

This program is not for the faint-of-heart.   

People write to me every day, expressing absolute anguish about their inability to get traction on, and to actually finish, their creative work. “Desperate” is a word that gets thrown around a lot. Also, “shame spiral” and “scattered” and “stonewalled” and “helpless” and “guilty” and “defeated.”   

It takes true courage to dive into your creative process and face those fears and that pain. It takes time and energy to work through the process of creating a plan to move forward.  

But when you make that commitment, you put your work is at the core of who you are.   

And then as you take the actions that the kind of person who puts their work at the core of their life would take… your outside will finally match your inside.  

You will BE that person.

yin yang trans
leonie sharrock

For the first time I feel "I can do this."

I have attended time-management lessons, stuck up motivational quotes about beating procrastination all over my home and work desk, but not until now has any of this stuff sunk in, thanks to CFW/ACC also acknowledging how important it is not to beat oneself up.

"Pick yourself up, dust yourself down, start all over again!" One step at a time. I have no doubt I will trip up, again and again, but for the first time I feel "I can do this."

What I have finally learned from stopping long enough to do the CFW and reflect, is that I CAN shift that balance more in my favour, AND stop feeling bad about wanting creative time for myself. Guilt is just wasted energy.

- Leonie Sharrock, artist, story-maker, and teacher

charlotte-soesanto

The CFW would have saved me so much angst in the past

WHOA. I seriously wish I had learned this a DECADE ago in high school, or at least college. I think I could have saved myself a LOT of angst, and also allowed myself to go and try to get things DONE without all of the anxiety.

I was honestly SO nervous to join this class (Am I "creative" enough to qualify for this group? Will I feel out of place? Is this a totally horrible and "selfish" thing to do?), and I am SO, SO glad that I made the leap.

I've learned skills in this class, and gained some tools that I know will serve me well for a long time. It has seriously been AMAZING.

- Charlotte Soesanto (Momentum System)

I'm lacing up my butt-kicking boots just for you.

I’m lacing up my butt-kicking boots just for you.

Have any questions about the Creative Focus Workshop?  

Drop us a line! We’d love to help!  

contact@jessicaabel.com