Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Becoming a less neurotic writer (is there such a thing?)




Author's Note: I will be starting the 12-week Artist's Way journey beginning January 4. I'll be blogging weekly about my progress. I'd love for some of you to join me.

In early 2015, I set a goal to become a less neurotic writer. Well, it’s been almost a year, and I still have a long way to go. I have a lifetime of bad habits and neuroses to overcome. Julia Cameron of The Artist’s Way calls this journey “creative recovery.” Hmm. That has a much more positive ring to it than becoming less neurotic, doesn’t it?

My personal journey involves daily journaling, meditating, yoga and nature walks. I haven’t been doing any of those things as much as I would like, but despite some personal life bumps in the road, I’m making progress (but not enough, which is why I'll be doing The Artist's Way again).

I have the meanest, bitchiest internal editor to ever walk the face of the earth. She is downright cruel. You should hear what she says to me. It’s not even printable. I call her Helga. Ugly name for an ugly being. (If your name is Helga, I apologize--I’m sure you’re a lovely person.)

Some things I’ve been reading in The Artist’s Way have really hit home. Cameron talks about how anger is at the root of much of our creative neuroses. She says that “in the recovery of a blocked artist, anger is a sign of health.” Awesome. I must be a flippin’ health guru, because I’ve been mad a lot lately. In fact, it seems I’m always ticked off about something or other in regard to my writing career. Recently, a couple of writer friends/acquaintances who just started writing achieved greater success (ie: big sales to major publishers or making oodles of money self-publishing) than I have in all my years of struggling. I went through the mature reactions of “It’s not fair!” and “They haven’t paid their dues!” and listened when Helga told me that I’ll never achieve similar success because I suck as a writer. Yeah, it was a really pleasant time in the Clark household.

Cameron asks us to pinpoint what it is we’re really mad at. She says anger is our friend—it will always tell us when we have betrayed ourselves. This was an aha! moment for me. I’m not angry at these friends or even the situation. I’m angry at myself—for the opportunities I didn’t explore, the countless hours I’ve wasted not writing, the wrong turns I’ve taken. It’s all about me. Now that I realize it’s me I’m pissed at, now maybe I can redirect that feeling into my work.

Cameron also talks about synchronicity, which is another word for answered prayers. Be careful what you wish for. Knock and the door will open. Ask and you will receive. However you want to say it. Cameron says once we begin our creative recovery, synchronicity will pop up everywhere. It’s happened to me—a few months ago, I was telling a friend and fellow writer that I wished I had some sort of group to keep me motivated to write on days when I don’t feel like it (like today). Well, she just happened to belong to an international group of women writers with a monthly quota of submissions and critiques, and a few days later I had an invitation in my inbox.


Try it for yourself. Put your wish or desire “out there” and see what happens. And keep me posted. And if you’re a writer who is not neurotic, please tell me your secret in the comments.