No Maybe About It: The Truth About Making Things Happen

This is a guest post by Kelly Diels.

jane austen card by yardia - click for info

Maybe you’re an artist. Maybe you’re an artisan. Maybe you’re a writer (or you want to be).

Yes, let’s say you’re a writer.

(Because even if you’re an artist, entrepeneur, and crafter, you also need to be a writer. Your online world demands it. It demands About Pages and bios and blog posts. And it demands good ones.)

So maybe you’re a writer. (No maybe about it.) Maybe you share space with your family. Maybe space is tight. Maybe the only place with space to write is the teeny-tiny desk at the centre of an itsy-bitsy living room.

(Maybe this sounds like your place? I know it sounds like mine.)

And maybe people – your family, their friends, your friends – are coming and going, coming and going, coming and going.

Maybe it’s hard to concentrate.

No maybe about it.

So maybe you’d be forgiven for thinking that finishing your magnum opus – or starting it! – is impossible in these conditions.

Maybe you need your own space…preferably a well-appointed, well-lit, well-equipped workspace NOT populated by other creatures who share strands of your DNA. A quiet space. A space without a phone to ring when your boss wants you to work an extra shift. Because of course in this fantasy space, you don’t have a job. Or a boss. Or distractions. Or bills to pay, kids and cats to feed, and a spouse and laundry to do.

(Strike the second-to-last item from that list. Maybe doing that will help with your creative life.)

(And your relationship.)


(No maybe about it.)

And maybe then, maybe when conditions – space, quiet, equipment, money, time, full-body bliss – are ideal, you’ll create. You’ll produce. You’ll make. You’ll make a living.

And maybe angels are singing and the sun is shining and a kitten just slid down a rainbow and handed you a cupcake with a cheque for a million dollars signed by a team of unicorns.

Because they exist. Just like those fantastic conditions for creativity.

But nobody can be expected to create under these circumstances. Your circumstances. The worry about money. What other people will think. The lack of time. The cramped conditions. The crappy tools. The absolute absence of privacy. The demands of family and friends. A society largely hostile to your artistic aspirations.

No, nobody could make masterpieces under those circumstances.

Except maybe Jane Austen.

She did it because she kept doing it. She kept writing and write she did: she wrote Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park and Emma and Northanger Abbey and Persuasion at a small desk in a small living room in a small house on a small budget with an even smaller amount of social support. Like, no social support at all…other than perhaps some paternalistic pats on the head. Because she was a lady-writer, y’all! And ladies weren’t writers and writers weren’t ladies!

But genteel Jane Austen was a fighter.

Every artist needs to be a fighter.

And in every fight, your first adversary is not your circumstances. Your enemy is the fantasy that you need any special tool, course, or course of action other than your talent, practice, and perseverance. Your enemy is the fantasy that you need to make a dramatic change – quit your job, get a studio, get rich – to make anything at all.

Your enemy is the fantasy that maybe one day the conditions for creativity will be ideal. And maybe then you’ll get started.

But maybe the conditions for creativity will never be ideal.

And maybe you can do it anyway.

No maybe about it.


Kelly DielsKelly Diels likes to do it. She’s a wildly hire-able copywriter (bios, About Pages, blog posts, oh my!) and the literary incarnation of Mae West…if Mae West moved to the suburbs, gained baby weight that is now school-age, wrote a feisty blog (Cleavage, it’s a sexy word that means more than you might think), and taught online artists, entrepreneurs and provocateurs how to write. Well.

35 thoughts on “No Maybe About It: The Truth About Making Things Happen

  1. I love you, Kelly Diels. Thanks for the kick in the pants, the reality check and the wonderful, fabulous truth.

  2. This post came at a good time for me, I have a fine art deadline and “I got nutthin” I need to sit down and create at least one piece. I got up this morning, put on my running clothes (it may be a short run but I’m going to run) and plan on taking a good crack at at least one piece to submit.

  3. “And maybe angels are singing and the sun is shining and a kitten just slid down a rainbow and handed you a cupcake with a cheque for a million dollars signed by a team of unicorns.”

    ^ I got a great belly laugh out of this. Fantastic. :)

  4. Just what I needed to hear today!!

    Today Ive sat on the floor of my hubs study to draw on a large canvas , my equipment is everywhere, (hubs not quite a happy bunny bout this) I have a drawing of my canvas on tracing paper, hanging by sellotape to storage cupboards so I can see it at eye level & to write Ive had to stand at the kitchen counter, so I can move between the two!!

    My kids are due home in an hour so the next writing session will have to wait till after bed time in 3hrs , as their dins needs doing & their books to be read!

    Totally got this too Hannah

    Brilliantly & hysterically said Carrie!

    Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do & actually right now , I think I like it like this!!

  5. I am totally framing a picture of Jane Austen for my studio! I literally got that paternalistic pat on the head this past weekend, grrrrr … thanks for the post!

  6. @Hannah, In my ideal writerly world, I’m writing you from my white loft space in the sky, the address and phone number to which no one knows. In my real writerly world, I’m crafting this response wearing pajamas (but also a really, really great bra, I’m convinced this is essential to my creativity) while the baby sleeps. The bed is made but only because my loverloverman made it. The phone rings. People stop by. And pieces get written. Most of the time.

    So darlin’ I am picking up what you are putting down. And I am thrilled that my words thrilled you. xoxo

  7. @Melanie, @EVERYONE, This is reality! This is our lives. Sure, there’s mess, but when we create in the mess…

    …we create.


    (And when in doubt, create the mess. Write it, paint it. (My best story ever, “love, fury, lola” is about my youngest daughter and her tantrums.) Make it art, because your life is your art. I’m pretty sure Anais Nin said that, and she created an entire career out of that. She also had two husbands AT THE SAME TIME. So chicka knew about mess and making art in the midst of it and from it.)


  8. Awesome and so true!

    Reminds me of a quote from Living the Good Life (by Helen and John Nearing) which I have been getting a LOT of inspiration from lately:

    “From this it follows that each moment, hour, day week, and year should be treated as an occasion, -another opportunity to live as well as possible . . . On this point we differ emphatically with many of our friends and acquaintances who say, in effect, ‘Never mind how we live today; we are in this dog-eat-dog social system and we may as well get what we can out of it. But tomorrow, in a wiser, more social and more humane world, we will live rationally, more economically, more efficiently, more socially.’ Such talk is nonsense.”

    They are talking more about society as a whole, but the point is the same in your house. If we’re not going to do it now, under these circumstances, we never will.

    Thanks Kelly!

  9. Thanks I needed that. My problem isn’t always with my surroundings. My kids are older now and it isn’t like the days when they were toddlers. My problem is having my hand in too many things. To many ideas swirling through my head to create, or write authentically. When will the madness end? LOL Lately, I have had the desire to focus on writing a specific post for my blog, just one. I can’t seem to calm myself long enough to sit down and do it. Social online media, really gets me going in so many different directions. Just look at my xeeme and you will see my social media presence, I have to maintain.

    Answering email, tweeting, liking, interacting, tumbling, pinning. Help, calgon take me away! Am I in over my head?

    Shelley Novotny

  10. Brilliant, thank you, loved it!!

    And maybe angels are singing and the sun is shining and a kitten just slid down a rainbow and handed you a cupcake with a cheque for a million dollars signed by a team of unicorns.

    Is now on my white board in my little creative room :)

  11. Sometimes we all need a small (or big) kick in the pants to get going and stop procrastinating! Thanks!

    (Sitting at her small desk in her small living room and sharing her small chair with a large cat)

  12. Oh, so glad to have found you via Tara Gentile…you had me when you started talking Jane….I always have some Austen in my DVD player as I work…looking forward to reading more of your work…great post!

  13. So maybe we should stop saying “maybe” and start doing. Maybe I should start doing, leaving all maybes behind. Maybe I should. Maybe I will. No maybe about that.

  14. Brilliant article.

    There is always something, some reason that you can’t do things, or can’t do things well enough, or fast enough, or just… enough. I’m a great one for the ‘when I have {insert wishful thinking here} I can do things better’ line of thinking, but I totally get what you are saying.

    Strapping on the boxing gloves now and going in for round 1!

    Thank you.

  15. Absolutely love this post. Love. Love. Love. There really does come a time when you you must make that decision that despite the (many many) odds that you are a creator and creators CREATE. Thank you so very much for the confirmation and inspiration. Loving your work … Handsome and Pretty xxx

  16. Great Post. I started my novel with 4 kids, their many friends, two cats, one husband and a business stampeding through our home. The reason I dragged a chair out into the buggy, summer heat of our front yard and wrote with a legal pad and pen? Come hell or high water, I was going to write. The few times I found myself hesitating? Those were fear. I was afraid I would fall on my face. Looking back now, I realize the biggest thing that gets in our way is ourselves. You’re a writer, an artist, a creator. You know it. Get going. Will people like what you create? Will it sell? Forget about it. The work is under your control. Concentrate on that.

  17. Thank You, Kelly. This was so spot-on that I got shivers. I am quoting you in huge letters on my inspiration board: “Your enemy is the fantasy that maybe one day the conditions for creativity will be ideal. And maybe then you’ll get started” Thanks again.

  18. Im with Stacie who said this first-(paraphrasing here) “I discovered you by way of Tara” – and ever since then, as in this post, your writing style is simply suburb, so engaging, humorous and so on point!

    As Tara does, you both point out the obvious that we ourselves don’t even notice or see which is right in front of us getting in the way of progress, but need to promptly see, read, be reminded, etc. to move forward with our goals and career.

    I am amazed at how you both as one previous reader said, ‘you’re in our brains’ by bringing up such poignant subjects…I follow your posts on your blog….

    it’s fun when you finally find ‘that space, that time’ to do your art/writing/etc….

    PS I love your nervy writing style on your blog and here in this post! You tell it like it is! You have such talent with just coming up with your subject lines – it makes one peek, to click on that link to read more of your posts…

    pps I love writing lyrics sitting alone in a crowed bar in a corner listening either to live music or what ever is on the bar’s radio – the hard part is telling people to go away, they are sooo and too curious – and must see what is only barely been written on the back of some paper place mat or notebook – I usually just tell them – oh it’s homework :P, then get right back to pretending to be Dylan Thomas and finding that next line knowing nothing rhymes with the word orange. lol

    I will most certainly agree with you 200% on one thing you point out – write, write and write some more… be that writing fighter – because the more you do, the easier it gets and the better chances one has to actually produce decent content! – This is for any art one creates…. thank you for reminding me!

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  20. Ain’t that the truth! I absolutely love this post. Thanks so much for the wake-up call, laugh, and renewed ambition! I recently moved from a large studio to working on a small desk on our three season porch, so I can totally relate.

    I loved reading this so much, that I had to share with my readers and blog a full response. You can find it here:

    Thanks again for the wonderful read!

  21. So true! If we sit back & wait for perfection & validation to fall from the sky, it will never happen. We need to build from what we have & fight (like Jane Austen :) Thank you for posting this great reminder by Kelly Diels, I’ve long been a fan of her amazing writing style. I’m glad I stopped by today!

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