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!