The Artist’s Way Program: Week 8, Recovering a Sense of Strength
This is a series of blog posts following my experiences doing Julia Cameron’s 12-week Artist’s Way program. If this series is new to you, feel free to read the original book review first.
Week 8’s theme is “recovering a sense of strength” and focuses on time. We already discussed money and now time is the other big-ticket creative block. Cameron focuses more on age than on making time in our day. “It’s too late.” and “I’m too old.” are some of the most common excuses she hears for avoiding one’s passions.
While I didn’t entirely follow how it connects to the time theme, Cameron also has a long discussion of academia in this chapter. Academia doesn’t have to be but sadly often is an enemy of creativity. I entirely agree with Cameron that the reason this happens is because many academics are blocked creatives themselves. She discusses creative writing programs in particular. While they have a lot of potential for nurturing, many do fall into the stereotype of creatively unfulfilled professors cutting down their students as a way to vent their own frustrations. I majored in Creative Writing and found it more harmful than helpful towards improving my writing and actually pursuing publishing. Also, as a bit of the black sheep creative in a family and extended family consisting almost entirely of academics, I definitely experience an internal struggle of intellect and creativity. Prestige versus passion. Increasingly, I tell myself that these concepts can co-exist, but society certainly tries to tell us otherwise.
As for this week’s assignments, I really enjoyed returning to affirmations, especially now that I’m more open to them than the first time I tried them. I also enjoyed “early patternings,” another fill-in-the-blank exercise, this one focused on parental influence about art and creativity. Last, I appreciated listing twenty things I like doing and then “sorting” them, in a manner of speaking. Which are free and which cost money? Of the latter, are they cheap or expensive? Which are solitary activities and which with company? Are they job related? Is there physical risk?
Writing out my ideal day, while a nice idea, seemed counterproductive for me personally. Since I battle perfectionism, I avoid synonyms like “ideal,” too. Giving myself an ideal day sounds wonderful, but the minute my day doesn’t go exactly according to my carefully crafted plan, the day is ruined, no longer ideal anymore. This is the all-or-nothing thinking I’m working hard to disengage. So rather than planning some single perfect day, I think I would rather take elements of what I like and scatter them throughout my life. Balance, balance, balance!
I missed morning pages one day this week. First time that’s happened. My partner returned, bright and early, from a long trip and I was so excited to spend time with him that I entirely forgot about my pages. However, this week’s check-in asked if I’m tempted to abandon the pages and…not at all! I really like them now. I also started a file this week listing a plethora of artist date ideas. I like Cameron’s suggestion of doing two artist dates in one week as a special treat.
Part of why Cameron’s program reminds me so much of mindfulness is that she emphasizes moderation. We often decide we don’t have time for something when we think too big, but sometimes we can work it into our lives on a smaller scale, even possibly expand from there as we grow more familiar with it. Yes, there’s never enough time in the day, but more importantly it’s never too late.-->