Your creative work is at the core of your identity…so why isn't it at the core of what you do every day? 

Are you ready to stop procrastinating and finish the work that matters most?

Your creative work dangles the promise of the three magic ingredients for a fulfilling career: 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. 

Sound familiar?

  • You start soooo many projects and fall in love with your new ideas, but as soon as you start, you fear they won't turn out as good as they can be, and you give up a quarter of the way through…and then that project, too, adds to the pile of “failures.” 
  • You feel guilt and pain when you’re not doing your creative work and guilt and pain when you are doing your creative work…because there's just so much else pulling at you.  
  • Your inner critic constantly gets in the way of actually finishing anything, but you just know you’ve got something awesome in you that needs to come out! 
  • You feel guilty if you’re not creating every day, but then you get super-resentful of feeling like you have to produce every day…you’re not a machine.  
  • You have time in your week for creative work, but when it rolls around, you find yourself on the scroll, or organizing drawers, or binge-watching Friends… and hating yourself every second for it. 
  • You make to-do lists, keep a planner, block out creative time, yet fail to commit. It's as if all of the planning is a poor excuse for actually doing the work!  
  • You allow other things to take precedence over your creative work EVERY time!  

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.” 

— Oliver Burkeman  

Just because your work may not be making you a full time living—or any income at all!—from your creative work does not make it some kind of easily-dismissed “nice to have”, and it does not mean that your frustrations with making time and finishing are #firstworldproblems.  

Deep in your core, you know this work is essential. And that fact is not necessarily even tied the specific project on your plate right now. This is about your right and your responsibility to self-direct your time and attention, and to choose to devote yourself to the work that’s most important to you.  

Projects—and your ability to take control and make them happen—are vectors that you use to create a new reality.  

People who wind up reading this page often fall into one of two camps (and sometimes in both!)

Tell me if this sounds like you?

  • I'm constantly studying skills and planning, but I never make progress on my projects.
  • I'm afraid I'll be disappointed with the results of my efforts.
  • I have so. many. ideas. I start one, then I'm instantly distracted by a new idea before I can finish anything.
  • I feel like I need a "real" job as opposed to something creative.
  • I just can't maintain the time I set aside to work—my day job, family, and life responsibilities routinely take over, and my creative time is the first thing to go.
  • My inner critic is out of control. Nothing is ever going to be "enough".

👺 You, my friend, are a Perfectionist!

Being a Perfectionist is a double-edged sword. It means you care—deeply—about doing good work. But it also means that you routinely let fear stop you from moving forward.

You don't have to continue to live like that!

Perfectionists are poised to leap.

You've stored so much potential energy, that if you just master the tools to allow yourself to focus on your creative work, the progress you uncork will astound you.

...or is this more like you?

  • I feel guilty whenever I'm not working...and resentful that I have to work whenever I am.
  • I have more projects than time or hands to do them, and no way to decide what would be the best next step.
  • I've “made it” in a field others would kill to get a taste of. If I admit to my deep alienation and burnout it would come across as an obnoxious #humblebrag.
  • Whenever I try to prioritize ambitious projects, I get anxious about losing focus on income and my career.
  • I constantly let other peoples needs and priorities become my priority.

👹 Hello, fellow Overachiever!

Like Perfectionists (which you might also be!), Overachievers strike a devil's bargain.

You’ve set out to build your life with just your own wits and creativity. That means you're an incredibly hard worker. You're scrappy, and justifiably proud of your achievements.

...And you're borderline-burnt out helping others, without any space for your own work.

Burnout is the number one danger for ambitious, talented 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.

Here's the good news: You absolutely, without a doubt, have what it takes to commit to the major works you envision.

And when you do? That work will be an inflection point in your life and career.

When you prioritize your creative work,  

(Writing, music, film, comics, curriculum design, visual art, podcasting, creative service business, whatever form it takes)  

you’ll have the power to… 

  • Get clear about your priorities and make smart choices. 
  • Create room in every week for your creative work. 
  • Turn down the volume on your inner critic, working without guilt, anxiety, and self-blame. 
  • Sustain the energy you feel when starting an awesome project. 
  • Value your own creative work as highly as work you do for other people. 
  • Build relationships with other creative people who can support your work. 
  • Pitch your work to dream outlets, clients, fans—with total confidence. 
  • Take on bigger, more ambitious projects than you’d ever dared. 
  • Finish that project. Choose the right next project. 
  • Finish that one, too. 

What it takes is not magic, not a visit from the muse, but simply your willingness to go deep and question your assumptions about what’s possible for you.  


The Creative Focus Workshop 

The Creative Focus Workshop is the only complete, step-by-step program specifically designed for serious creative people who are ready to overcome resistance and put their real work at the core of how they live their lives.

Be confident you’re investing your time in the RIGHT idea  

With every new idea, make a call about whether and when to pursue it, and have the confidence you’re making the right decision. That trust in yourself comes with planning and achieving milestones—our core work in the Creative Focus Workshop.  

Take control of your most ambitious, scariest projects  

Wouldn’t it be great 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  

Do 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’re 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.  

Yes, I'm in!

I wanted to share the joy and excitement with you that 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

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. And that turns into a good week, and that turns into a good six week sprint, and that eventually turns into a finished film.  

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

Before doing the Creative Focus Workshop…

  • You can finish projects… as long as they’re someone else’s projects. You despair that you’ll ever find that motivation for your own work! 
  • You careen from, "OMG, I gotta do this now!" to, "Wait, what did I come to this website for?"
  • You spread yourself thin, constantly changing focus, so you never feel confident in your abilities. 
  • Your workspace is piled with bills, papers, half-finished thoughts and projects, and you struggle to get there…basically ever. 
  • You’re constantly putting out fires, and you’re filled with anxiety that something’s falling through the cracks.
  • You’re paralyzed by questions like, "Will it even be worth it?" "Is it all a waste of time?" "Should I just get a 'real job' and get on with life?"

After you finish the Creative Focus Workshop…

  • You’ll say yes to your own creative priorities BEFORE you load yourself up with work for others. 
  • You’ll start your day with a clear, calm sense of what’s next, and stay focused on your plan. 
  • You’ll know exactly what your commitments are, and what’s coming up, so you never have to freak out about something you forgot. 
  • You’ll spend hours in your well-organized workspace, every week! 
  • You’ll know exactly how to say NO, and what to say no to, so that you don’t end up behind the eightball. 
  • You’ll enjoy a powerful sense of ownership and control over your calendar, attention, and life! YOU are in charge. And that’s just so freeing! 

How do we do all that?

I’ve got 20+ years experience as a college-level classroom teacher in narrative (including prose and comics), professional practice, and building a sustainable creative life. Now, I bring the best of my live courses to my online teaching.

Creative Focus Workshop Life Ring

The CFW is a custom-built hybrid of coaching program and course

It’s got online-course elements: You get my two signature systems—the Creative 360 and the Creative Continuum—with 11 written and audio lessons with worksheets. These lessons are asynchronous and online—access them on your schedule, wherever and whenever you want.

It’s got in-person-seminar-like elements: You will pace out your own learning so that you're not overwhelmed, and email and group support motivates fast, confident progress. Discussion is linked to the individual lessons, so you’re able to focus and collaborate and exchange ideas with other students. Monthly live group coaching reinforces your wins.

It’s got group- and peer-coaching elements: The Creative Focus Workshop is hosted in the heart of a vibrant, ongoing community of smart, driven creative people like you (more about the Autonomous Creative Collective below!). In the Collective, you and your colleagues can dive deep together, lend mutual support, and share ideas and experiences.


You'll have 24/7 access to course materials, including worksheets, written and audio lessons, and lesson forums.

Work at your own pace, whenever and wherever you like!


Joining the CFW also gives you access to the Autonomous Creative Collective, an engaged and dedicated community of creative people who support each other, offer feedback, and share experiences. 


Group support is there when you need it. In addition to forums, articles, messaging, and posts, you'll have access to live group coaching and monthly virtual coworking sessions!

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

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.

Creative 360 icon



The Creative 360 

A deep-dive into your yesterday, today, and tomorrow

The first unit of the Creative Focus Workshop is the Creative 360 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 painted a picture 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.

Lesson 1 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. 

Lesson 2 Creative 360: Yesterday (Idea Debt)

Dig deep and pull together all the things you’ve told yourself you want to be doing, 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!

Lesson 3 Creative 360: Yesterday (Creative Conditions)

This kind of deep dive is what the Creative 360 is all about: Investigate the conditions that work best to support your creative process so that you can use yourself as the master pattern of your creative life. 

Lesson 4 Creative 360: Yesterday (Open Loops)

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!

Lesson 5 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!

Lesson 6 Creative 360: Tomorrow (Vision Charting)

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. 

Lesson 4: Creative 360: Yesterday (Open Loops)

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!

Lesson 7 Creative 360: Tomorrow (One Goal)

Comb through your Idea Inventory to choose the project and milestone that offers the fastest path to your personal vision of success. Choose and commit to finishing… and leverage the support of the community to start cranking!

Lesson 6: Creative 360: Tomorrow (Vision Charting)

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. 

The Creative Continuum

HOW you’ll focus, finish, and move on to the next project. Over and over again.

You’ve got your Creative 360 done! Awesome! The second unit of the Creative Focus Workshop is the Creative Continuum.

Once you know exactly what you want to focus on, what your specific obstacles are, and your conditions for creative success, it’s time to build out your CFW system with a set of tactical modules that walk you step-by-step through breaking down your overwhelming (-ly awesome!) projects onto incredibly doable steps, and building a support system to see you through to the triumphant launch of your work into the world.

Lesson 8 Building the Project Path

When you choose the right goal, it’s going to be a stretch…which means you probably don’t quite know how you’re going to get there. In 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.

Lesson 9 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 to your creative work.

Lesson 10 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.

Lesson 11 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. 

6 Program Bonuses 

The Creative Focus Workshop comes with 6 bonus lessons, scheduled to show up in your inbox exactly when they’ll be most useful in your CFW process.

The 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.

Defeating Distractions

The No. 1 cause of getting derailed on a regular basis? Distractions. Learn to identify your weak spots and build in defenses to help you stick to your new creative habits. 

The Five Whys: Define your dilemma

Sometimes you simply can’t figure out what’s stopping you from making progress, and the Five Whys is a key technique for sniffing out root causes and tweaking outcomes.  

Task Management Tools Roundup

Looking for a new tool? This lesson offers both options and a methodology for choosing what might work best for you.

Development and Success Markers

These markers are an advanced technique for ensuring that you’re getting the most out of your time. When you find (and act on) the right development markers, you’ll produce results with a minimum of planning, and identifying the success markers that matter is the secret to truly feeling successful.

Clearing three major obstacles that stand in the way of your success

Creative block, a need for external validation, imposter syndrome and fear of what others will think…non-tangible things that will stop you in your tracks. Gain perspective and tools to fight back in this bonus lesson.

Make starting easier by implementing a shut-down routine

Getting started on a creative session is the toughest part of the job. All too many people stall out there, and never get anything done. This bonus lesson offers a range of concrete methods to make getting started easier. 

With all that, you’ll also get… 

A vibrant community of fellow ambitious creatives walking the same path

At the heart of the Creative Focus Workshop is 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.

 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. 

We believe

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 three-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? 

👉 The CFW is located in the heart of a vibrant, active, supportive community of serious creatives, called the Autonomous Creative Collective (ACC). The CFW and ACC are hosted on Mighty Networks, which is a platform designed specifically for this exact kind of community and accountability building. To repeat: We are NOT on Facebook! 

👉 LIVE meetings and support: As part of your membership in the CFW and the ACC, you have access to monthly live Office Hours with Jessica Abel, 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. 

👉 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. 

👉 The CFW/ACC is accessible via a website and a phone app at any time of the day or night. 

👉 The CFW is designed for you to be able to complete it in four weeks (or less, if you decide to devote a concentrated period to it), but you can also spread out your work over three months (the "semester")…or longer.

👉 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!

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!  

Plus: Choose to bundle and build visibility for your creative work with Authentic Visibility at our lowest price ever.

Authentic Visibility is a 6-month program for creatives who (think they) hate marketing.

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

This program is designed to be simple and fast, and to give you a strong mastery of the basics. You can learn and implement at your own place, so that you never fall into the overwhelm trap. And you’ll be able to get answers to all your questions from 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.

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.

With Authentic Visibility, you’ll be able to:

  • Build your audience to simply share your work with more people
  • Take your hobby 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!

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

One of the best things about the Creative Focus workshop is that these are some cool people who show up. There hasn’t been a project yet where I haven’t thought, Wow, that’s weird and wonderful, and needs to be out there.  

I’ve made the rounds looking for an accountability group, and some artist groups I’ve found are like retirees doing traditional landscapes—which is not my thing. Or they’re kids who don’t know who they are or what they’re about or what they want to do yet.  

In the CFW there's a level of maturity, and I like that. Everyone’s so smart and complicated, and those are my people.

- John Lauer, sculptor and designer

The Creative Focus Workshop Foundation

Pay in full


Save $65 when you pay in full

  • 3 months (the Semester) of full access to the CFW and the Autonomous Creative Collective
  • 11 Text and audio lessons
  • Printable workbook
  • Vibrant community of fellow creatives on the same path
  • Monthly live group coaching sessions
  • Monthly live video co-working sessions to get the work done
  • Monthly discussion topics and challenges so you can continue leveling up

Enroll with one payment of $595 (save $65)

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 ever:

$200 off the full price for AV

$795 $595

After you enroll in the Creative Focus Workshop, look for an opportunity to bundle your enrollment in Authentic Visibility on the following page!

Payment plan


x 3 months

  • 3 months (the Semester) of full access to the CFW and the Autonomous Creative Collective
  • 11 Text and audio lessons
  • Printable workbook
  • Vibrant community of fellow creatives on the same path
  • Monthly live group coaching sessions
  • Monthly live video co-working sessions to get the work done
  • Monthly discussion topics and challenges so you can continue leveling up

Enroll now for 3 monthly pmts of $220

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 ever:

$200 off the full price for AV

$795 $595

After you enroll in the Creative Focus Workshop, look for an opportunity to bundle your enrollment in Authentic Visibility on the following page!


Creative Focus Workshop Quarterly Planning
$147 value!

A 6-module course to apply your Creative Focus to longer-term planning!
Choose the Pay-in-Full option and it will be added to your order automatically.

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 7 days to start your deep dive into your creative work.  

If after seven days 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.

Why I know this matters

I’m Jessica Abel, and I’ve been teaching artists and creative people for 20 years. 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…and the work never taking precedence.

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

I’ve worked with 20 years-worth of art school students, and over 500 people in the Creative Focus Workshop 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 all those things.  

It’s for them, and with them, that I developed the Creative 360 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.  

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 full-time art school prof, and I’m a publishing cartoonist and writer. 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.  

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.  


I gained a much deeper understanding of how I work and why, and, most of all, 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

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—I mean months later—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

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, including via an app for your mobile device.  

The only elements of the program that are live are the monthly live Office Hours group coaching sessions and virtual coworking… and office hours are always recorded so you can revisit or catch what you missed!  

Times for live events vary month to month to accommodate different schedules, but are usually Mon-Thu between 11-4 pm ET.  

"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 projects into the intense demands of your everyday life.  

The short answer is: The amount of time you devote to redesigning your creative practice will be extremely variable depending on your schedule flexibility—and what you want to get out of this program.  

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 three months—a semester—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.  

So, at a guess, I’d say ideally you’d commit four to six hours a week for four weeks (or space it out in shorter bursts over a few months).

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, yeah, 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. 

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

  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.  

If you don’t take action 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.  

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.  

You might have some fears or doubts right now, especially if you're a Perfectionist or an Overachiever.

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

Perfectionist, 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.

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

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.  

Family and friends could hardly believe the changes for the better.  

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 work, 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!

Prior to joining the CFW I had been using techniques from Getting Things Done and software for time tracking and to-do lists for years, slowly honing my approach to finding time and energy for my self-directed creative projects. But I seemed to be my own worst enemy, struggling with the proverbial blank page even at the beginning of scheduled time for making progress on projects I cared deeply about, and making little progress for over a year.

The CFW course and the ACC, which is a living laboratory populated with fellow creatives on similar journeys, helped me overhaul my processes, streamline habits, and overcome those sticking-points to find the focus and support to make consistent, weekly progress toward my goals.

- Emmeline Dobson, animator and illustrator

Before working with Jessica, I felt absolutely overwhelmed, and I had too many ideas to really get focused in on what I needed to do, and no way to consistently sort them. I felt guilty all the time, I felt like I never deserved a break.  

And it felt like I was never going to be able to grow out of it.  

Now, I have given myself a promotion. It's amazing how much my firm has grown and how much clarity I've gotten around what I do. I'm able to go and sell projects now that I would never have even attempted to follow up on as a result of what I have learned.  

The Creative Focus Workshop Momentum System is one of the best investments I've made all year.

- Jenny Trautman, consultant (Momentum System)

What happens when you join the Creative Focus Workshop

1. Enroll in the Creative Focus Workshop 

When you click the “Sign me up!” button above, you’ll go to the enrollment page, where you can choose your plan.  

2. You'll receive an email with all the details 

After you make a payment, you’ll receive an email with an enrollment link, and instructions on how to set up your course account. 

3. Get immediate access to the course!

When you click through, you’ll be taken straight to the Autonomous Creative Collective home feed, where you can set up your profile and say hello!

Once inside, you can jump right into Lesson 1: Creative 360 (Today)

Over the next month, you’ll receive a series of emails directing you to the rest of the lessons, and walking you through the process of learning all the bonus features available in the Autonomous Creative Collective.  


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-motivated creative endeavor, the Creative Focus Workshop is for you.

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 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. We simply don't value things that we get for free like we do when we pay for them. We just don't do 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, challenges, virtual coworking, Member Mixers, and more.

Jessica and her assistant coaches are in the community most days, and there are live video Office Hours group coaching meetings once 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.

Do I get lifetime access to the course material?

No, your access is included in your course fee for three months, which we call the "CFW Semester."

Why is this the case? Because procrastination is the enemy. It's what we're trying to defeat. And when people buy 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 three months (the "CFW Semester"). 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 3-month CFW Semester?

For the three 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 upgrade to stay 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 7 days of the program start date, you don't feel that it's valuable to you, we'll happily refund you.

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 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

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

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