3 Keys to a Creative Life…


Labor Day.

Here in the United States, today is a turning point in the calendar year — a holiday marking the end of summer and the start of fall.

Since 2000, during this window of time, I’ve hosted a creative retreat in the Adirondack mountains.

For approximately 10 days, I gather close friends in the arts: filmmakers, directors, writers, painters, performers, playwrights, producers, and creative entrepreneurs.

We meet at a house on a lake — a home once owned by a relative of mine — and it is always a spectacular time.

Aside from it being a stunning location, what makes the time away so special are the people.

Everyone is smart.

Everyone is humble.

Everyone has a huge heart.

We were a total of 16 people this year, and the late night conversations sitting around the living room’s long leather sofas ranged from creative risk taking to how our lives led us to places we never expected…

…how some of us had initially set out with a plan for one profession, but a series of events unfolded and we each Risked Forward and took a chance and ended up on a path to a place we could never have imagined.

Attending the retreat this year were Emmy winning performers and Oscar winning movie directors, best selling authors and writers for TV shows.

What struck me as a common theme was that in each person’s case, they’d taken that unexpected risk — often based simply on a few encounters that led them to feel: “This job seems like fun…”


“I like what person X or company Y is all about.”


“This interests and excites me. I’m going to check it out.”

For my own part, this entire retreat was born from a wisp of an idea.

Victoria Labalme Artist Retreat

When I was in my 20s, I thought it might be fun to host an artist’s retreat. And at one point, being a fan the northeast coast and ocean vibe, I’d considered buying and renovating an old abandoned fishing cannery up in Maine.

There were only two problems.

One: I didn’t have the money.

Two: I don’t like renovating.

The following year my mother mentioned…

…that my great aunt’s house was available for a few days if I wanted to go with a few friends.

And I thought, “Hmmm. It’s not Maine…it’s not on the ocean…but it is available. And it’s available now.”

So quite tentatively, I invited a few creative colleagues.

I wasn’t sure this would even work.

…or that I could pull it off.

It felt like a big risk.

Was this even a good idea?  Was the house too far away (a 5-hour drive from NYC)? Was it too rustic?

But 5 people said YES.

And sixteen years later, we are going strong.

This afternoon, as my husband and I stood arm in arm and waved goodbye to the last of our guests, I thought about how many of them had said with tears in their eyes, “This is the highlight of our year. Not just of our summer…but of our YEAR. We can’t thank you enough.”

In that moment, I realized how glad I am that (back in 2000), I said yes to a wisp of an idea.

And how glad I am that I didn’t hold firm to the Maine cannery concept. If I had, this retreat might never have happened.

It might have died as an idea…

…or I might still be holding out, thinking “One day, I’m going to…”

So I encourage you to:

1)    Start…even if it’s small.

2)    Select your people carefully – whether in life, in collaboration or in business. The people you deal with are everything.


3)    The next time you sense that, “This might be fun” feeling or “This could be cool” I encourage you to give it a whirl — whether for your book, blog or work project…a choice in your life to take a class or start a new project…or a story, bit or sequence that you might want to try out on stage, in a meeting or on video.

(For those of you who have been to Rock The Room, you know how much these wisps, these creative ideas, are your genius at work….)

“Trust the Idea that Can Lead to the Idea”

…because you never know where it could take you

…or how many other people’s lives will be better because you took that risk.

With all my best,



P.S. What’s a wisp of an idea you’ve always wanted to try out?

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