Work with Jessica

Make the Work That Matters Most

Woman walking on a tightrope or slack rope between two cliffs. From Out on the Wire, By Jessica Abel. It represents the creative risks people must take to create great work.

One-on-one coaching with Jessica Abel

You’re a creative professional: a writer, novelist, podcaster, filmmaker, designer, visual artist, cartoonist, journalist, academic —

Or you’re a “creative class” business owner: a coach, consultant, copywriter, web designer, app developer —

You’ve “made it” in a field others would kill to get a taste of. Or at least it looks that way from the outside. Clients, customers, and fans demand more. And around most people, to admit your feelings of deep alienation and burnout would come across as an obnoxious #humblebrag.

The key differentiator that sets you apart from the world is not whether or not you make a full-time income doing the work you’re known for. It’s that you’ve set out to make your life work (and your life’s work) with just your own wits and creativity.

Your career dangles the promise of the three magic ingredients for fulfilling work: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. And once you taste that, it’s not something you can walk away from and just “get a job.” It’s under your skin.

You feel like you should be happy, but as you get better at what you do, demands on your attention just get more intense. Everyone wants a piece of you.

However, the most important piece of the puzzle, purpose, comes only when you are able carve out time and space to dive into your own, self-generated future-building creative projects that are so challenging you’re not even sure you know what they look like yet.

It’s natural to trying to address your crunch by attempting to jam more in to your already-packed life. But that’s a recipe for not reaching your potential on anything…and worse, burnout.

Burnout is the number one danger for ambitious, talented (and hard-working) creative pros like you.

It’s how you wake up 5 years later having given up hours, days, weeks of time with your family and friends…with nothing to show for it.

You absolutely, without a doubt, have what it takes to commit to the major works you envision.

What you need is a new approach to getting there. You need a strategic plan, you need processes that reinforce your commitment, and you need support and accountability.

I can help.

Make Your Life Work

You are in a unique position in this world. Your creative skills are how you make a living. They’re valuable and in demand, and you’ve gotten where you are today by dint of sustained, determined action.

Using your creativity to earn a living sucks up all your time and energy…

…and that means what you’re not doing every day is the real work you keep obsessing about.

Here’s the thing: what you’re doing right now makes sense. If you focus on client work, or what your boss is asking for, you’ll get paid. If you keep doing what you’re already known for, you’ll keep your existing audience and clientele happy, or at least sated.

It’s safe.

What’s not safe?

The huge idea you obsess over that’s so risky, so scary, so challenging, you have no idea if you can pull it off. But if you do?

It’ll be an inflection point in your life and career.

Those kind of risks are where the exhilaration—the joy—in creative work comes from.

That highwire walk is why you signed up for this crazy career in the first place.

But taking creative risks, trying to create something that’s more—much more—than the sum of its parts, that’s exactly what you’re not going to magically find time for.

That kind of future-building developmental work requires time, and space.

And claiming time and space requires courageous, risk-taking conscious commitment to making a change in how you work every single day.

“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

Who am I?

I’m Jessica Abel, and I’m an author, a teacher, and a creative productivity coach. Living a life as a serious, committed creative without blowing up every other thing in your life is a delicate dance. I know: I’m a publishing cartoonist and writer and I’m a full-time art school prof (and department chair). I’ve lived abroad in Mexico and France for a combined 6 years, and yes, I speak French and Spanish (badly). I’ve done a podcast and published textbooks. I’m married, I have two kids. I have a house.

Jessica Abel with her books, photo by Maria Teicher

In all of that, what’s most important to me is not a fat resume, it’s that I’ve made creative work the center of my professional life for more than 25 years.

It feeds me, both literally and metaphorically.

And that’s what I want for you.

How we do it

If you’re past ready to level up, but feel like you’re at (or over) capacity as it is, it’s time to make some changes.

I help ambitious mid-career creative pros and small business owners stop grinding and start carving out deep focus to finish, and launch, their most important work.

Clarity: We dive into your vision for your future, and design a step-by-step path to get there.

Structure: We triage your current commitments and find the best constellation of yes and no to support your current stability and future growth.

Accountability: And I will stiffen your spine and hold you to a higher standard as you face the hard decision to keep walking out on that wire, day in, and day out.

Together, we’ll recapture your joy in doing what you do…without falling back into that crazy hamster-wheel of burnout.

Concretely, my coaching packages include an initial strategy session, biweekly calls, email support, and complete access to the Creative Focus Workshop curriculum.

The way our coaching engagement plays out is completely customized to your needs. I will lead you through developing systems to address where you most need them, support you through the major mindset shifts that you’ll need to grapple with to step into your new self, and, where needed, I will roll in direct feedback on and strategic planning for your narrative projects and marketing messaging, using the narrative tools and frameworks I explored in my book, Out on the Wire.

Apply for a no-cost 30-minute Strategy Session

In our 30-minute session, we’ll get clear on your vision, figure out what’s keeping you from gaining traction on your work, and put together an action plan to get off the starting blocks. We’ll also discuss options for working together.

Fill out this application, and I will get back to you within two business days with a response. Once approved, I’ll send you a link to schedule your free 30-minute Strategy session in the following weeks.

Why an application?

I work with committed, ambitious creative pros and businesses on strategy, “productivity” (scare quotes because it’s not about doing more, but doing the right things…), ownership mindset, and in many cases, storytelling. (To be clear: you do not have to be making the majority of your living from creative work to be a “pro,” but you do need to be all in on this work.)

My core areas certainly intersect with other things you might seek coaching around, such as branding, editorial strategy, and creative business building, but that is not the core work we do. This application is designed to save you time by making sure that I’m able to help you with what you need.

It’s the work that you hold closest to your heart that could truly make a dent in the universe.

Give that work the attention it deserves, and build your future.