The Artist's Way--Week 3

Week 3
Recovering a Sense of Power

You may have noticed that Week 3 took me two weeks instead of one. While this program is 12 weeks in the book, I
figured there was no harm in going longer if I felt the need.

I ended up purchasing the workbook, and have been reading through it, doing some tasks from earlier weeks that I skipped. I think the workbook will be really valuable – I recommend getting it if you haven’t already.

Every section of this week’s chapter spoke to me. The first is about Anger. “In the recovery of a blocked artist, anger is a sign of health,” Cameron says. Well, good. Guess I’m healthy. She says with a little digging, we can figure out what our anger is trying to tell us, that it will always tell us how we’ve betrayed ourselves.

I’m angry at myself for all the time I’ve wasted over the last few weeks/months/years, worrying about this, that and the other thing rather than just writing. I spend a lot of time telling myself “I can’t” or “This is a waste of time” rather than just sitting down to write. I spend a lot of time being jealous and envious of others’ successes; if I spent as much time writing as I do comparing myself to others, I’d be way better off. If I could grab myself by the shoulders and shake myself, I would.

Cameron also talks about Synchronicity. This is probably my favorite part of this whole course, because it’s so true. “Watch out for what you pray for, you just might get it.” She says once we start our creative recovery, synchronicity (answered prayers, the open door, whatever you want to call it) will pop up everywhere. She says never to ask yourself if you can do something. She says to say instead that you are doing it. And amazing things will start to happen. 

“Let your hook always be cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be a fish.”--Ovid

I haven’t experienced much synchronicity yet while doing this creative recovery, but I know I will. I just need to keep my eyes open to it.

Another thing Cameron talks about which really hits home with me is Shame. “What will the neighbors think” was my grandmother’s favorite saying. It must have sunk into my brain because whenever I write a steamy sex scene, I think my mom’s going to read this, or some of my co-workers might read this, etc. Why do I care? If I wrote graphic horror novels, I wouldn’t think twice about friends and family reading those scenes. Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten so many comments over the years about my choice to write romance. “I think it’s time you take your writing more seriously.” “Did you know Becky writes those smut novels?” “Do you actually read romances?” Yes. I love to read romance novels. It’s my favorite genre. It makes sense that I would write it. So what’s my problem?

I also feel shame that I spend so much time on my writing, when I could be spending more time with my family, or cleaning my house, or cooking, or any of the bazillion other activities I could be doing.

Clearly, I have some serious issues to overcome, LOL, thus this program and thus the reason for taking my time in completing Week 3.

Weekly Check-in:
Morning pages—I do these daily. They are pretty whiny and like a glorified To Do list lately, but my day would feel incomplete without them.

Artist Date: Last week, I spent about 45 minutes at the local Goodwill, looking at their huge selection of used books. I also like looking through the furniture and vases and pottery. This week, I didn’t do an artist date. I’m still resisting it. It still feels like a waste of my time, which means I really need it.

Tasks: I did the majority of the tasks. Now that I have the workbook, I plan to eventually go back and finish them all.

How’s your creative recovery going? Does my craziness make you feel better about yours?

Week 2: The Artist's Way

Week 2
Recovering a Sense of Identity

I just finished my second week of The Artist’s Way 12-week program. This week, author Julia Cameron talks about how we doubt our creative power. We question how on earth the “universe” might be cooperating with us as we strive to find our creativity again.

But I had at least one instance where this seemed spot on. I like to listen to writing podcasts while I’m driving. When one finishes, it immediately goes on to the next one. Well, one day last week, the podcast I was listening to finished and went right into the next. It was one about freelance writing—something I had no interest in listening to and normally would’ve deleted it and gone on to another. But I didn’t want to fiddle with my phone while I was driving. I ended up listening to that podcast twice, checking out the interviewee's blog and signing up for her newsletter.

Long ago I had a dream of being a freelance writer, but that dream got lost along the way of my life and my fiction writing career. But freelance writing makes so much sense—I have 14 years experience as a personal trainer/instructor/coach. Why have I not tried my hand at fitness writing? I have a background in graphic design and illustration. Could there be something in that industry I could write about? Hmm. The wheels in my brain are starting to turn…

Cameron wants us to set aside our skepticism. When a weird idea or coincidence pops up or presents itself to us, we should gently nudge the door open and peek inside, rather than slamming the door to new ideas and/or possibilities. Which is what I tend to do a lot. It’s all about being open-minded (or open-doored LOL).

She says creative blocks manifest in our fantasies, in our daydreams. We need to start paying attention to those. “Sanity lies in paying attention,” she says.

So starting today, I will pay attention. I will nudge that door open and peer inside.

What about you? What do you need to start paying attention to?

Weekly Check-in:
  • I did my morning pages daily (easy for me; it’s been my routine for 10+ years).
  • Tasks—I did a couple of them; resisted these for some reason.
  • Artist Date—I went on a 4-day writing retreat with six other authors. So I basically had a 4-day Artist Date, and it was fabulous, inspiring and humbling.

Week 1--The Artist's Way

Week 1—The Artist’s Way
Recovering a Sense of Safety

I just finished Week 1 of The Artist’s Way, a book/program written and designed by Julia Cameron. I’ve done this program before—the first time in the mid-90s, back when “everyone” was doing it. I’m doing it again now because life hasn’t been very kind lately and I really got away from my writing and my creativity. I’m hoping these 12 weeks will ease me back into a creative life.

So… week one. It’s all about feeling safe with one’s creativity, safe from others’ judgments and safe from my own. My internal editor is a total bitch (her name is Helga), and AW is all about learning to ignore Helga and be a bad artist for a while if that’s what it takes.

Julia Cameron says our biggest enemy is our negative core beliefs. She says if we are blocked in an area of our life, it’s because we feel safer that way. Hmm. This used to be my issue, which is why I’ve done the program before. But right now, I haven’t been writing (being an artist) for several months due to personal reasons that have nothing to do with writing. Back in October my husband was diagnosed with colorectal cancer after a routine screening. His prognosis is good, but our world went topsy turvy, and my focus turned far away from my writing to him and our kids. I haven’t written more than 2000 words since early October.

Normally, that would really stress me out, but I’ve been very patient with myself because I know I’ve been focusing on what’s important. However… now that my hubby is between treatments for the moment, I feel ready to get back to the page. I never feel quite right unless I’m writing. Unfortunately, when I sit down in front of the computer, Helga is screaming in my ear so loudly that all I can do is stare at my blinking cursor. She’s telling me that my writing isn’t important at all, my husband is. That if I focus on my writing, I’m not focusing on him. Or my kids.  Even though they all want me writing again.

I just can’t shut Helga up on my own. Thus, the Artist’s Way to the rescue. I can’t say I’ve made a ton of progress in one week, but I did my morning pages every morning (three pages of unedited, stream of conscious writing). I did most of the tasks, and even did my artist date—Cameron says in order to be a good artist, we must regularly fill the creative well. That means taking myself on a weekly artist date. I went to Ben Franklin, a craft store I haven’t spent much time in for years. I made myself walk down every aisle, lingering longer in the print art and gallery section, and the art supplies section. But I felt very antsy, like I was wasting time and should be doing something else, like being home with my family (I blame Helga again).

Anyway, doing this program makes me feel like I’ve come home again—maybe because I did it in the early days of my writing career, when I was 20+ years younger. I look forward to seeing what the program can do for me this time, now that I’m older and wiser. (Um… Older, yeah. Wiser? Ha ha ha ha.)

If you’re doing the program with me, let me know how you’re doing and if you had any a ha moments.