I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs that I was reading through The Artist’s Way in the effort to unblock myself. In fact, the entire reason this blog now exists is because I started to get excited about my writing again. About 12 weeks ago or so now (maybe more), I had to set it aside. There was too much going on in my life and I was getting angry at the tasks, angry at the author of the book, and I was so tired I couldn’t get up in the morning anymore. I think what it really came down to is that I had to give other things in my life a little more attention-my relationship repair first and foremost.
Reading The Artist’s Way has been like going through therapy, and I wasn’t ready to go through my own sort of torturous therapy the same time I was going through couple’s therapy. It’s my understanding that therapy is supposed to drag up a lot of negative emotions before it actually does any good. Well, I was getting to the negative emotions part – not because of the content that the questions were dragging up, but more because I was irritated at the tasks and the questions themselves. When I opened the book up yesterday and started writing out the answers to the questions given in the next chapter, all I felt was irritation. Some of them are so specific and almost leading and it was driving me crazy. What good is a recovery if you can’t make it your own? Some of the questions seemed specifically tailored to a situation that may have happened in the author’s life and not mine. Despite the fact that she clearly stated to answer whatever came to mind, I was irritated. For example, one of the questions (or fill-in-the-blanks) was:
As a kid, my mother taught me that my daydreaming was _____. I remember she’d tell me to snap out of it by reminding me ___________.
What?! First of all, as a kid, my mother never really said much about daydreaming one way or the other, and she never told me to ‘snap out of it’. I feel like the author is trying to stuff me in a box, and that’s antithesis to everything she’s aiming for. Looking at it with fresher eyes today I can see that knowing she doesn’t want to stuff people into boxes, it’s okay to answer it however I want. It’s okay to not even fill in the blanks if I don’t want to. As long as I write. So, I did. I wrote out the answers that came to me from her list of fill-in-the-blanks and I actually feel a little better for it. I tend to have this problem of thinking within the parameters I’ve been given. This book is about unblocking your inner artist, your creativity, so when I’m presented with a list of questions or concepts to fill out I automatically seek to apply it to my creativity. That’s missing the point, Self. The point is to let your thoughts flow. Who cares if I don’t answer in a specific way, the only person that sees this is me! It’s entirely my own and anything I write or answer is custom tailored to me. If it’s coming from my mind, it is automatically legitimate and applicable. This book is a tool and should be used as such.
That said, I’m thinking I may or may not end up using some of her tasks to use as blog posts. Sometimes they can be pretty fun, and I feel like they can also help me when I’m just sitting here wondering what to post next.
This latest chapter has been about reaching for the dream, essentially. Here are some parts of it that I particularly liked:
“As a rule of thumb, it is best to just admit that there is always one action you can take for your creativity daily.”
I like this, because it is hard to remember. I get caught up in all the ideas that I have no time and it’s too complicated, but it’s a nice reminder that it doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be a small act. As small as quoting this book and writing a little paragraph about it. And then continuing with another quote and another paragraph.
“Creative people are dramatic, and we use negative drama to scare ourselves out of our creativity with this notion of wholesale and often destructive change. Fantasizing about pursuing our art full-time, we fail to pursue it part-time—or at all.”
This could not be truer for me. Not only am I awfully dramatic, but I do use it to scare myself. Never intentionally, of course. But I sit here and I think, I want to be a writer. I want to write. I want to get things published, but all of my ideas are terrible and everything I try to get out is average at best. I could write full-time if only I didn’t work full-time, but that’s impossible. Well, fool, you can write. You ARE writing. You write in your blog. But that’s different. Is it? The more you write in your blog, the more ideas will come to you, and then likely you’ll start getting ideas for fiction again. And did you really expect your first write-through to be fantastic? That’s what editing and revision is for. Ah. There it is.
That is a word that terrifies me. I never got any practice with it. In school, when I wrote a paper, I scanned it for typos and then I submitted. I would never bother to rewrite. When I got to the English class in college that was teaching me how to research, how to write papers, I got terrified and I dropped it. I hate research. Why can’t everything be perfect the first time through? It sounds like this is something I’m going to need to practice and soon. What a silly thing to be afraid of.
“Creativity requires activity, and this is not good news to most of us. It makes us responsible, and we tend to hate that.”
I think that one says enough on its own.
“One of our favorite things to do—instead of our art—is to contemplate the odds.”
What are the odds I’ll actually ever really get published? Well, the odds are absolutely zip if you don’t submit anything for publishing. And you can’t submit anything for publishing if you don’t. Write. Sometimes I hate the logical voice in my head.
“Most blocked creatives have an active addiction to anxiety.”
I wouldn’t necessarily say that the addiction is one I like or enjoy (who actually LIKES anxiety?), but I can see going through the motions of the anxiety and the mental self-flagellation instead of taking those steps necessary to reach the dream, because it’s easier. It’s far easier to listen to that nasty voice in my head than it is to fight it.
“Take one small daily action instead of indulging in the big questions. When we allow ourselves to wallow in the big questions, we fail to find the small answers.”
This is perhaps the biggest take away I had from the chapter. It’s so small and yet so profound, because I am the kind of person that constantly wallows in the big questions. How am I ever going to _____? It doesn’t matter if it’s related to my writing, or to my five year plan for work, or to my personal relationships. One step at a time. It’s how you accomplish anything in life. One little step at a time. This can be taken very literally. How am I ever going to get out of bed? I’m so tired! Coach yourself. Sit up. Okay. Swing your feet over the edge of the bed. Okay. Now go to the bathroom. Splash water on your face. Okay.
How am I going to get this project done on time? Block out your calendar. Put in your headphones. Don’t talk to anyone. Okay.
How will I ever become a writer? An actual honest-to-goodness published author! Baby steps. Write a blog post. Okay. Write something every morning, even if you don’t post it. Okay. Set goals, but make them small. Don’t look at the big ones yet. Okay.
And on and on, and so I’ll go. Just you watch me.