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If there were an achievable, human-centered method for reliably completing ambitious creative projects without self-flagellation, without cramming every minute of every day with hyped-up productivity hacks, without getting sidetracked by other people’s priorities…
If that were possible…Would you finally feel confident enough to make your creative life your top priority?
I want to hear you sing out YES from the rooftops.
Because even if it feels like you’ll bring down the jinx on your head if you dare whisper it out loud…
It’s like a pulse beating in your skull:
Your work is living out a shadow life of imagined existence, and it’s killing you
Knowing that feels like walking around with a terrible secret: You can’t say it out loud or you fear you’ll sound conceited,
or that, god forbid, someone might actually hold you to doing something with all that latent potential, and then what the hell will you do?
When you find yourself standing next to the chips bowl at a party (because that can actually happen again, apparently) 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?
"It's so bizarre, I was unstoppable when I was being paid by other people, 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 work is not a luxury…it’s 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.
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 [writing, films, performance, painting, music, quilting, a new business idea, board game, comics, 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.
Creative projects—and your ability to take control and make them happen—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 your online store posted.” You ARE an illustrator.
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.”
That somehow your dreamed-of, labored-over creative work 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.
You’ve already made work. You’ve studied, earned degrees, endured hard 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 system 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 that 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’ll offer yourself compassion, instead of blame, when you whiff a self-imposed deadline, and just keep consistently working towards the finish line.
You will create and defend healthy boundaries with the people in your life so your priorities don’t get steamrolled.
You will 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’ll 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 will 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’ll 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.
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
I'm honestly completely gobsmacked to find I can get stuff done!!
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?
I am a FINISHER
I described myself as a ‘finisher’ because over time I have closed open loops on many partially done quilt projects. I’m not sure at what point the scales tipped from ‘procrastinator’ over to ‘finisher’ but finisher I am.
- Maggie Winnall, quilt creatrix
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.
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 that they finish the work that matters most.
Confidently commit to projects knowing they deserve your love, and that you’re fully able to see them through
With the self-knowledge and decision-making tools you gain in the Creative Focus Workshop, you’ll make clear-minded, confident decisions about where to commit your energy and time. You will trust that you know what’s best for you and will be able to resist the pull to let others second-guess and undermine you.
Take control of your most ambitious, scariest projects
Wouldn’t it be amazing if the thought of taking on a big project didn’t overwhelm you? With powerful Creative Focus tools in hand, you’ll know how to grapple with its complexities, to break it down and make it manageable.
Prioritize your work without blowing up the rest of your life
You want to set realistic goals and milestones for your creative work, and hit them. When you build your system around your actual life, rather than some fantasy version of it, you can make this happen.
Build a new reality for yourself
When you take control of your projects and your creative life, you’ll live ever closer to the secret truth about you (that you’ve been afraid to reveal to anyone)...
…that you ARE a novelist, a poet, a filmmaker, a podcaster, a designer, a visual artist, a cartoonist, a journalist, an academic, a creative business owner...
…in short, YOU’RE A BOSS. YOU ARE THE PERSON WHO DOES THE THING.
I wanted to share the joy and excitement with you that YOUR COURSE WORKS!!
- Samantha Hodder, podcaster
You're going to see your life being transformed.
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.
The three pillars of Creative Focus
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 asynchronous 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.
I’ll lay out each pillar, but you’ll quickly see that each overlaps with the others.
In the clear, practical course materials, you get my two signature systems—the Creative 360 and the Creative Continuum—in 11 written and audio lessons with an in-depth interactive workbook. You’re guided by the hand to build a creative life that gives you joy...and finished work.
You'll have 24/7 access to mobile- and tablet-friendly lessons, asynchronous and online—access them on your schedule, wherever and whenever you want.
Work through the lessons at your own pace, or rely on email scaffolding to prompt your next step.
That’s all awesome. It's a superior online course.
But it’s our people who put it over the top:
One of the most amazing features of the course is that there are ongoing incredible, deep conversations among current and former students—many of whom are still in the community as alumni members—in comments sections on each lesson, so that you’re able to benefit from literally years of experience and nuanced application of the lessons.
When you comment, you may get responses from people currently in the course, or from alumni who have finished the work months or years ago and who have road-tested experience to share.
Coaching and Accountability
In addition to the always-on course and discussions, you get multiple opportunities for live interaction and accountability every week.
We hold game-changing monthly live group coaching sessions to help you leap over the places you’re most likely to get stuck, and meet other members doing the same.
→ Twice-monthly facilitated co-working sessions so you can build accountability and relationships with your fellow members
→ A wide variety of peer-led coworking, discussion, accountability, and shop talk sessions
→ Monthly themes, challenge posts, group discussions, chats, where you can tap into accountability as you need it, and flow into and out of these conversations as it fits into your daily life
→ Facilitated Do It Together peer collaboration and accountability framework, so you can design your own sessions to best meet your needs
Plus, bonus for this enrollment, ride the wave of collective energy in the CFW Sprint! More on that below!
I flatter myself that I have a lot to offer as a coach and teacher. But what I alone can do is nothing compared to the depth, power, and richness of our incredible peer group in the Autonomous Creative Collective.
I didn’t do this on purpose: I’ve put out the call to join the Creative Focus Workshop since 2015, and the people who have shown up are just stunning: smart, deep thinkers, and incredibly warm and empathetic. And now, without having planned it, I have the honor of convening the best creative community I’ve ever encountered.
I’m not exaggerating. I couldn’t have done it better if I’d tried.
This is hard work that requires going deep.
It’s easier—and more joyful—when you’re not alone.
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.
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 ;o)" That felt like a win!
Happy days. Next?!
- Rauni Higson, silversmith
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
The Creative Focus Workshop breaks down into two phases.
THE CREATIVE 360: BUILD A COMPLETE PICTURE OF YOUR CREATIVE LIFE AND USE THAT TO MAKE CLEAR, CONFIDENT DECISIONS
THE CREATIVE CONTINUUM: PUT THOSE DECISIONS TO WORK — IMPLEMENT THE TOOLS TO GET YOUR CREATIVE PROJECTS FINISHED!
The Creative 360
A deep-dive into your yesterday, today, and tomorrow
The first unit of the Creative Focus Workshop is the Creative 360 is a series of core modules where you investigate what’s in your life now, what you’re carrying with you, and what you hope to achieve.
By the time you finish the Creative 360, you’ll have a complete inventory of what exists, so that you can carefully guard what you love, and learn to say no to all those other things that suck away your life energy without your full permission.
Creative 360: Today
You’ll plunge into your Creative 360 as soon as you log into the course. Track the unconscious decisions you make every day, and which are not leading where you want to go. Gain clarity on what you really do want to do more of, and take control of those moments.
Creative 360: Yesterday
Dig deep and pull together all the ideas you’ve told yourself you want to invest in, then figure out which come closest to building the future you want to build. Cast off the heavy burden of all those unfinished projects and start finishing the ones that really matter!
Creative 360: Yesterday
This is what the Creative 360 is all about: Investigate the conditions that work best to support your creative process so that you can use your own best moments as the master pattern of your creative life.
Creative 360: Yesterday
Clear the decks—create the literal and mental space to get to work. You don’t need to be playing whack-a-mole with your to-do list while also trying to focus on your work!
The Should Monster
This is a special module designed to help you wrestle down the self-doubt that can cripple your best efforts—because when you start making real progress, that can really trigger your inner critic…but we will not let it stop you!
Creative 360: Tomorrow
Embrace your ambition: Think big and allow yourself to imagine the life you truly want to build with your creative work. Define “success” for yourself so that you’ll know when you’re on the right track.
Creative 360: Tomorrow
Comb through your Idea Inventory to choose the project and milestone that offers the fastest path to your personal vision of success. Commit to finishing… and leverage the support of the community to start making major progress!
The Creative 360
HOW you’ll focus, finish, and move on to the next project. Over and over again.
The first unit of the Creative Focus Workshop is the Creative 360 is a series of core modules where you investigate what’s in your life now, what you’re carrying with you, and what you hope to achieve.
By the time you finish the Creative 360, you’ll have a complete inventory of what exists, so that you can carefully guard what you love, and learn to say no to all those other things that suck away your life energy without your full permission.
Building the Project Path
When you choose the right goal, it’s likely to be a stretch for you…which means you probably don’t quite know how you’re going to get there. With the Project Path, distinguish between tasks and projects so you can avoid overwhelm. And utilize the key technique for building anxiety-free daily creative practice into your life even when (especially when) you’re working without a deadline.
The Aligned Week
Now that you’ve begun to break your ambitious goals down to an achievable scale, the next step is to make sure they are allotted actual space in your life, that is, blocks of time on your calendar. In the Aligned Week, use the principle of integration of all domains of your life to weigh your choices of how to use your time…and devote more time than ever to your creative work.
Upgrade Your (Life) Operating System
You may feel like “organization” is out of reach for you. But the core of this module is that you already use systems…they just need an upgrade. So just as we have with every other step in the CFW process, you’ll start by identifying what you already have in your life, what’s working…and what’s not. And we’ll take it from there.
Review: The Key is the Trust
In the long run, having built a system around what you need is only half the battle. The other half (the other 90%, if I’m being honest) is using that system week in and week out to help you mark progress, lock in new insights, and gain on your creative goals. Your reflection and review process is the missing link between just setting up some kind of system and actually using it as a tool to accelerate your creative work.
SIX included bonus lessons
With the primary lessons in the Creative Focus Workshop, you’ll have everything you need to get unstuck and truly take control of your creative life.
But sometimes, you want to go deeper, and refine your response to specific issues in your unique situation.
That’s why I’ve created six additional bonus lessons, included with your enrollment, and scheduled to show up in the curriculum exactly when they’ll be most useful in your CFW process.
→ If you struggle with distraction, you’ll love the Defeating Distractions bonus.
→ If you’re facing an intractable project that just doesn’t want to budge, you can unwind why and what to do next using the Five Whys.
→ If your inner critic is going full-bore and you need to turn down the volume, you can use Clearing Major Obstacles.
And one of my personal favorites—a kind of magical approach to making starting your practice easier (not to mention creating a clear work, non-work delineation)—is the Shut-Down Routine!
These bonuses are hands-on tools and techniques with worksheets that will solve some of the most common problems you may encounter when you commit to up-level your creative life.
The Five Whys: Define your dilemma
Task Management Tools Roundup
Development and Success Markers
Clearing three major obstacles that stand in the way of your success
Make starting easier by implementing a shut-down routine
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
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
With all that, you’ll also get…
A vibrant community of fellow ambitious creatives walking the same path
I’ve already said it, but I can’t help but say it again: 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.
Your peer “mastermind”:
The Autonomous Creative Collective
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.
👉Creative workers are fully capable of taking charge of their own lives and decisions, from what they will create to how they will build their careers and businesses.
👉Creative workers deserve respect and an equal place at the table with all other kinds of workers.
👉Creativity ≠ leisure. This work is the real work. It's not for first-worlders and dilettantes. It's for everyone.
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.
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, called the Autonomous Creative Collective (ACC).
WE ARE NOT ON FACEBOOK. We use a platform called Mighty Networks, 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.
The CFW and ACC is accessible via a website and a mobile app at any time of the day or night, and everything is in one place. The course materials are hosted inside the SAME PLATFORM. So are event announcements and the calendar. Everything is in one place, so can seamlessly move from learning to discussion to live events, and back again.
LIVE meetings and support: As part of your membership in the CFW and the ACC, you have access to monthly live coaching calls with Jessica Abel, twice-monthly virtual co-working sessions so you can build accountability and relationships with your fellow members, and periodic Member Mixers, where you get to meet and bond with a variety of other members from all over the world.
Every week there are a wide variety of peer-led coworking, discussion, accountability, and shop talk sessions. We also include facilitated Do It Together peer collaboration and accountability, so 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.
This is not a drive-by community
The ACC is ONLY open to current and former students and clients so that we all share a vocabulary and ethos, and we all have skin in the game.
Once you’re in, you can stay in as long as you want by joining as an ongoing member.
Ongoing members retain access to ALL their course materials for as long as they stay, as well as all future updates and events!
Members range in age from mid-20s to 70+: there is never a too early or too late! They specialize in an enormous variety of disciplines, so you’re likely to find expertise in almost anything you do or are interested in trying.
Most common specialties
- Writing (50% non fiction,
- Visual Arts (31.7%)
- Comics (26.3%) and
- Blogging (27.6%)
- Course Development (19.7%)
(Yes, I know that adds up to more than 100%...our members do many things!)
- 24% in their 30s
- 28% in their 40s
- 25% in their 50s
- 20% in their 60s
- 4% in their 70s
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.
We grow together!
The Creative Focus Momentum System Group Coaching Upgrade
Within days of the start of Creative Focus Workshop, you’re likely to find yourself behaving—at least some of the time—in ways you almost don’t recognize.
Confidently saying YES (and saying NO!) to projects
Seeing where you’re about to get off track, and then pulling back from the brink BEFORE it happens!
Butt…ACTUALLY…in…chair! Working without anxiety!
These are huge changes. And you can ensure those amazing new habits become your regular habits with your upgrade to the Creative Focus Momentum System.
Consciously committing to your creative work can feel like an uphill battle.
When you opt for the Momentum System Group Coaching Upgrade, you’ll have the peer support of some of the most motivated and engaged students in The Creative Focus Workshop, ready to fight that fight alongside you.
You're not alone. We're all in this together.
The Momentum System offers six months of ongoing, intensive personal support designed to...
- Reinforce your hard-won gains from the Creative Focus Workshop!
- Individually support you as you embrace your ambition, and finish your huge, awesome projects!
- Customize your system for getting your work done to precisely suit your life and circumstances.
- Form new relationships and get incredible peer support in the Autonomous Creative Collective for a whole year! 12 months of ACC membership is included with the Momentum System.
You’ll dive deep into your ambitions and plans with me, Jessica Abel. The Momentum System offers the only way to work with me directly!
AND you’ll be in a group with the most motivated, engaged students in the Creative Focus Workshop—Momentum System students are SERIOUS about making their creative lives work.
In addition to the CFW and the Sprint, the Momentum System ADDS:
Structural and laser-focused coaching support for your Creative Focus journey.
Via our private group and live video face-to-face meetings, I’ll be like your creative “personal trainer,” there to help you assess what you’ve achieved, and troubleshoot where your planning is running into trouble.
- Six months of biweekly live group meetings with me and your committed Momentum System cohort to build accountability and tailor your creative practice to your unique circumstances.
- Four 90-minute Implementation Workshops. There are key spots in the CFW that present extra challenges and resistance at those points can really slow you down. That’s why we’ve planned four strategically-timed workshop sessions during biweekly live group meetings so we can use the power of collaboration and laser-focused coaching to keep you flying through the foundational work.
- Two Quarterly Planning Workshops so that you can take your goal and turn it into a plan that will bridge the gap between daily action and long-term vision.
- Concierge onboarding to get you started strong.
- Weekly accountability check-ins on your progress towards your goals in the Moment System group, because regular, iterative reflection is key to nurturing a sustainable creative practice.
Develop your ongoing support system: There's nothing more important to continuing to solidify and step into self-efficacy with your creative life than building relationships with a robust, committed, positive community of your peers. That’s why we include so many layers of community-building and accountability support.
- Membership in a private group inside the Autonomous Creative Collective, just for members of the Momentum System. You’ll retain membership in this ultra-committed cohort for as long as you remain in the Autonomous Creative Collective!
- A private podcast feed of all the coaching calls and additional training so you never need to miss anything or waste time trying to find recordings.
- You’ll be paired with an accountability partner for the duration of the program (and beyond: some accountability teams we’ve facilitated are still going strong 6 years later!)
- Motivating peer-led co-working, group study, and coffee chat sessions to build accountability and strengthen your Creative Focus team
- Practice using your own agency to set up peer-led events with our help and support using our Do It Together approach.
The Creative Focus Workshop Momentum System is one of the best investments I've made all year
I found the focus and support to make consistent, weekly progress toward my goals
Doing is transformational. Let's do this together!
The Creative Focus Workshop + Momentum System
Early Decision pricing (ends Monday): Save hundreds off full price!
The Creative Focus Workshop
per month for 12 months
$185/mo. Save $180 + 6 extra months in the ACC!
per month for 6 months
$140/mo. Save $180!
$140/mo. Save $180!
Single payment: Save an additional $65
$750 Save $155!
- 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
- Biweekly live video co-working
sessions to get the work done together
- Weekly discussion topics and challenges so you can continue leveling up
The CFW SPRINT LIVE COHORT!
FOUR LIVE WORKSHOP & COACHING SESSIONS for implementation support + a special live goal-setting workshop!
CFW + Momentum System
per month for 12 months
$450/mo. Save $360!
per month for 6 months
$450/mo. Save $540!
Single payment: Save an additional $170
$2350 Save $360!
EVERYTHING IN THE CREATIVE FOCUS WORKSHOP
Six full months of small-group coaching and accountability
- Six months of biweekly live group meetings with me and your committed Momentum System cohort
- Four Implementation Workshops to keep you sailing through the Creative Focus Workshop course material
- Two Quarterly Planning Workshops to lay groundwork for ever greater success
- A private audio feed just for Momentum System calls so you can listen on your schedule
- Concierge onboarding to help you get started strong.
- A private group inside the Autonomous Creative Collective to bond with your amazing cohort
- Individual accountability partner pairing to give you an extra layer of connection and motivation
Early Decision Enrollment ends Monday
The Creative Focus 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 and launch your FINISHED projects to eager fans with Authentic Visibility… at our lowest price ever.
Authentic Visibility is a 6-month program for creatives
who want to get their work seen, but (think they) hate marketing.
Our approach to visibility is aligned with the concerns of artists and creatives, not B-school bros and Instagram influencers.
You’ll learn simple, clear methods to build a relationship with a passionate audience using empathy and creativity, in full alignment with your ethics and values, and clear self-defined boundaries to protect your safety.
This program is designed to be straightforward and fast, and 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.
And you’ll be able to get answers to all your questions in monthly coaching calls and a community of creatives in every discipline and field who are doing the work with you.
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’ll be able to:
- Build your audience to simply share your work with more people
- Take your passion into the pro zone: start a side hustle or escape your day job
- Take a side hustle up a notch and tame the overwhelm
- Build your professional identity around the work you’re most proud of
- Or build your audience for your existing business
After you enroll in the Creative Focus Workshop, look for an opportunity to bundle your enrollment in Authentic Visibility on the next page!
I have a system to hold me up when I'm feeling anxious or not good enough
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
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:
- Pretty dang intrigued
- 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.
"This is a big investment, and 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 it feels like a failure to get help?)
…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 because 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.
This program is for you, even if you feel...
I am unworthy
When you look at the awesomeness of your idea, It seems impossible that you could ever make it real through your puny efforts. How could you ever measure up to your vision. So you study, you make notes, you spend a lot of time rearranging your kitchen cabinets.
In the Creative Focus Workshop, you'll learn exactly how to break down that giant, beautiful goal into tiny, achievable steps, and how to keep your eyes on your toes, taking step after step, until you wake up one day, and...
holy what?? It's done!?!?
Everyone will hate it/me
Your inner critic is a beast. And in the Creative Focus Workshop, we put a strong emphasis on helping you understand where that vicious voice comes from, and undoing the damage it does.
There are specific lessons addressing the inner critic, such as the Should Monster, but this anxiety-calming process runs throughout the entire program.
One of the most important elements is simply our incredible community, where everyone 100% understands where you're coming from, and will offer words of support and wisdom whenever you need them.
Together, we are courageous.
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
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
I have so much to do, I can't see straight
If you're an overachiever, you're probably already pretty good at finishing projects, and you have all kinds of opportunities flying at you. And if you're like most creative pros, you'll have trained yourself to say yes to just about all of them.
When you're that busy, getting clear on what will actually move the needle on your career—never mind what you actually want—feels like a pipe dream.
In the Creative Focus Workshop, you'll sort out all those competing demands and get crystal clear on how to move closer to full alignment with your vision for your creative life, TODAY.
I feel like, if I'm not working, what am I?
You've got a challenging, ambitious, deeply personal project waiting in the wings...but when you set aside time for that idea, you end up frittering it away answering emails.
You can't seem to allow yourself to think and plan and strategize and dream the way you need to as a creative. It doesn't feel like "work."
In the Creative Focus Workshop you will investigate what your best work requires. You'll assign those activities more value as anything you do for other people. We will support your hard, risky choices and stiffen your spine to take the big leap you need!
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
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
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
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:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
For the first time I feel "I can do this."
The CFW would have saved me so much angst in the past
- Charlotte Soesanto (Momentum System)
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!