The Artist’s Way Program: Week 10, Recovering a Sense of Self-Protection
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 10 discusses “recovering a sense of self-protection” by taking a look at common creative perils and asking us to acknowledge our own toxic patterns. The chapter breaks these perils down into four common ones: workaholism, drought, fame, and competition. I think they’re all pretty self-explanatory. (Drought refers to creative dry spells.)
According to Cameron’s workaholism quiz, I’m definitely a workaholic, which I find both surprising and not. I know I work and push myself very hard and that I tend to define myself by how much work I do, but on the other hand my work is my passion (writing) and I’m good about making time for others (if not myself). Actually, this program has helped me make huge strides on pampering myself, too. So I think that I have a workaholic nature, but I feel I’m managing and balancing it pretty well lately.
One of this week’s assignments is to write “workaholism is a block, not a building block” on a piece of paper and hang it somewhere prominent. It was a very effective, necessary mantra for me. To emphasize that, my partner laughed the first time he saw it, confused by a phrase that seemed so contrary to everything he’s seen from me over the years.
As for other exercises, I particularly enjoyed the touchstones and deadlies tasks. For touchstones, you simply list things that make you happy and place that list in view, like the above mantra. I agree that it’s very uplifting to glance over at a list of happiness “touchstones.” (Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens and all that.)
For the deadlies assignment, you write the following each on a small strip of paper: alcohol, drugs, sex, work, money, food, family/friends. Fold and place in an envelope or hat. Select one and then list five ways that it has had a negative impact on your life. Place it back and select again six more times, for a total of seven. Yes, the fact that you’re putting them back means you’ll likely do some multiple times and others not at all, but Cameron argues that sometimes returning to the same one brings up more, possibly deeper issues. I found this very therapeutic and would be tempted to return to it another time, especially since I drew “work” three times and “drugs” twice. I didn’t write about sex, food, or family/friends at all.
Only two weeks left in the program and it feels like a natural part of my routine, something I look forward to each week. Despite my reluctance over trying this at all, I expect I will miss the program once I finish it. However, I know there will be carryover life lessons and activities.-->