Week 1: The Artist’s Way

I’ve been on a ‘self-improvement’ kick. First there was Rodney helping me go back to my yoga beginning and building me up better (there’s the hope anyway) and now I’m asking Julia Cameron to help me with my creativity.

Creativity. I’ve always had a problem with this concept. I’m a painter, so I create paintings. A writer creates stories. A composer creates compositions. A cook creates meals. I don’t know how you can be creative if there isn’t a tangible thing to look at, or listen to or taste and say Look! I created this using my creativity! Yet I’ve been frequently described as being creative my whole life. Even when playing musical instruments! I’m just reading what’s written and playing it, what’s creative about that?

It’s this attitude that’s made me regard The Artist’s Way with suspicion from the first day I discovered it when I used to work in a bookshop. It was the most popular book in the Art Techniques section and I was sorely disappointed when I opened it to find there was no artistic techniques in it at all! Just lots of waffle about God and self expression and dreams. (Can I just point out I also did work at this shop, I didn’t just read the books)

Anyway curiosity made me buy it again. I was looking for something to stimulate me. I’m a painter but in my past I’ve also danced, written poetry and stories and played the classical guitar and the celtic harp. I thought maybe having a multi-pronged pincer attack of creativity enhanced joy would help see off my depression once and for all. Such a monster cannot survive in the radiant, fully self-expressed soul that I would inhabit after this course!

That’s the hope anyway.

So, week 1. Main tasks: Morning Pages (3 pages of stream of consciousness writing done every morning) and an Artists Date (taking your ‘inner artist child’ on a date) I did my Morning Pages every day. I’m finding them quite enjoyable… maybe not mind blowing yet. I do a lot of writing as it is. We’ll see. The Artists Date I chose was really quite boring: I read a book. It wasn’t even a good book. Sigh. I need help with that. My inner artists child would not be calling me back after that date. Thank god she’s stuck with me.

There was also a few tasks, of which I only really did one and it was a bit half hearted. You are asked to choose 5 fantasy occupations and then asked to do an activity related to 1 of them. I chose: physicist, sculptor, poet, monk and a counsellor. So I then I sat by myself in a room with a sign on the door saying ‘occupied’ and talked to myself for 50 minutes about my life and my actions and analysed it accordingly…. No but that would have been good! What I actually did was scrawl out a pitiful poem that’ll never see the light of day.

A lot of the tasks were completely irrelevant for me because I’m not a blocked artist. I’m a working artist and I’m producing work. Also this chapter was focussing on people who encouraged you or discouraged you from being creative in the past and I’ve discovered that I don’t actually care too much what others say. I could barely remember anything positive or negative anyone’s said to me about my creative attempts. Anything I did muster up I honestly don’t think had much affect on me at all. Is this good or bad?

So, I start with a whimper. I’ve always been terrible at doing homework!


5 thoughts on “Week 1: The Artist’s Way

  1. great questions i’ve struggled with, like,

    “Even when playing musical instruments! Iโ€™m just reading whatโ€™s written and playing it, whatโ€™s creative about that?”

    but how many people can read & play music; those who can’t (and i no longer can, been too long) usually feel this is creative, so creative is kinda relative it seems

    my guess re your inner child is she knows she’s in for a doozy of a date eventually, and maybe already considers the ride you’ve “taken her on” so far, quite an extended, and interesting, date ๐Ÿ˜‰

    disclosure: i bought the same book many decades back and never made it past the first pages, lot of the same reasons, plus some of my own ๐Ÿ˜‰

    nice read, thanks brija

    • I think you’ve got it right about the musical instruments. People get very impressed when I say I can read music but I mean for me it’s barely a skill because I learnt it so early. It’s like saying reading something off a page is being creative.
      I’m glad my inner child is so trusting! (I had to look up the word doozy) I have to say I find the artists date idea a bit strange. I struggle with the concept of ‘dating’. It’s not generally done where I’m from, especially not within an already established relationship. So why would I take myself on a date?!
      I suppose I’m committed to finishing the book now… hope you stick around to read how it goes!

      • definitely plan to stick around ๐Ÿ˜‰

        know what you mean ’bout “dating” – first time i heard some moms say their kids had “play dates” i was like, what!

        we just played!

        but i guess, to be fair, the way things are now, the kids are probably lucky to have a mom that arranges a safe play time

        ๐Ÿ˜‰ oh yea, doozy – a heck, a whale, a whirl, a kick…of a drive; ie, an exciting, out-of-the-ordinary drive ๐Ÿ˜‰

        maybe, instead of making a date w/your inner-child, how ’bout a surprise shared outting? i’m just brain-storming, but i think i hear thunder, so i better go in now ๐Ÿ˜‰ (that btw, is a lame joke, i make a bunch of those!)

      • Aw I dunno, it all seems like hard work! Can’t I just do things I enjoy?! I think I hear my inner rebel railing against the constraints of the Artist’s Way.

  2. ran out of reply room ๐Ÿ˜‰ so re “Aw I dunno, it all seems like hard work! Canโ€™t I just do things I enjoy?! I think I hear my inner rebel railing against the constraints of the Artistโ€™s Way” – i was assuming your project was enjoyable for you, but if not, hey, time to move on ๐Ÿ˜‰

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