The Artist’s Way Week 9 Check In
Week 9 is called “Recovering a Sense of Compassion.” Over the past few weeks I’ve gained so much from this 12 week guided course. This week put a great deal of what I’ve learned together and made me see and understand things in a different light.
This week the focus was on finding out what blocks our creativity. Internally and externally. One of the main themes through this course has been taking a more in depth look at what causes creative blocks, and at turning those blocks, and the negative feelings that cause the blocks–difficult emotions such as fear into an allie. A powerful allie.
Emotions like fear can highlight the things (those powerful emotions) that drive us in our behaviors. Behaviors such as procrastination, self-doubt. When we focus on a feeling such as fear, and we allow that fear to deter us from working–our creative pursuits–we often find that we have allowed the fear to keep us from starting, or finishing, a project. Instead of acknowledgeing that it is fear that held us back, we think it’s laziness or procrastination.
“Blocked artists are not lazy. They are blocked.”
Julia Cameron also says, “The blocked artist does not know how to begin with baby steps. Instead, the blocked artist thinks in terms of great scary impossible tasks: a novel, a feature film, a show, an opera… when these larger tasks are not accomplished, or even begun, the blocked artist calls that laziness. Do not call the inability to start laziness. Call it fear.”
SO how do we overcome the fear? By taking care of our SELF. By cultivating the ability to treat ourselves with compassion and kindness, instead of being so hard on ourselves, instead of juding ourselves so harshly.
Mrs. Cameron also talks about Enthusiasm and Play. she says, “IN order to work well, many artists find that their workspaces are best dealt with as play spaces.” And that, “art is process. The process is supposed to be fun.” I do not work well, at least not creatively, in a bland, minimalistic, environment. I need color. I need things that inspire me. Pictures. Art. Books. 4 blank white walls would never work for me.
She also talks about what she calls “Creative U-Turns.” How do we see ourselves? How do we see artists? Our notion of identity and the concept of what an artist is–it’s important. Do we link being a writer with writer’s block? Being a writer with struggle? The “starving artist” mentality. According to Mrs. Cameron, often times when progress is made we get scared and we choose to sabotage ourselves. I have done just that.
“In dealing with our creative u-turns, we must first extend ourselves some sympathy. Think of yourself as a young and skittish horse that you are bringing along. This horse is talented, but is also young, nervous, and inexperienced. It will make mistakes, be frightened by obstacles it hasn’t seen before. It may even bolt. Your job, as the creative jockey, is to keep your horse moving forward and to coax it into finishing the course.”
I am that skittish horse. I have been that and still am that “talented…nervous, and inexperienced” horse. I have made mistakes because I was frightened. Bolted. Quit. Stopped writing. Stopped creating art. I have sabotaged myself.
My new job, is to keep myself moving forward, to coax myself into finishing the course, and to extend myself sympathy, compassion, and kindness. To practice self-care.