Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity has been on my to read list for a while now. I finally picked up a copy a week & a half ago while book browsing with my friend Kim (Sassiland) who was in town & who recommended it as we were trading recommendations on writing books. Rather than read it through from beginning to end in one sitting & make some promise to myself to actually follow through with the 12-week program at a later date, I decided to start then & there. I do think my willingness to do it now of all times has much to do with the last 9 months of my life. The next 12-weeks of this process will take me through the last 3-months of what will forever be known as the hardest year of my life. There’s something about coming to the end of this process & focusing on my own creative process in the months leading up to the one-year anniversary of my mother’s death. I guess it’s a desire to really cement the fact that while this year has been the worst of my life, it has also (oddly) been one of the most interesting (& at at times even good), & much of what has made it interesting/good has been my interest in really figuring out who I am, what I believe, & what makes me happy. And much of that has to do with focusing on the creative process in general, as well as mine in particular.

So, last Sunday I started with Week 1 of The Artist’s Way program and with a new daily practice of Morning Pages. The morning pages are about clearing out your conscious & subconscious mind first thing in the morning to free it for more creative endeavors throughout the rest of your day. I’ve always been a sporadic journal writer, so I was a little wary of my ability to commit to a daily practice of 3 pages, but so far, one week down, I’m doing well. I’ve factored a bit more time into my morning routine (about 20 minutes) to make the pages happen; & I’ve allowed myself to make it “afternoon pages” when I just don’t have time in the morning (that’s only happened once; & I don’t intend on making it a habit). I’ve been surprised at how painlessly the morning pages have been to write. Yes, it is stream-of-conscious, but even stream-of-conscious writing can be daunting if you have to do it daily & for a set length. I’ll have to give the process more time to know what it does for me, but for now, I can see the benefit of just having the opportunity to do a bit of venting first thing in the morning.

In addition, I initiated the Artist’s Date practice. The goal here is to carve out some time for yourself weekly to do something creative. For me, week 1 involved going to a local music festival & listening to some bands. I would have gone even if I hadn’t needed to take myself out on an Artist’s Date, but I like the idea of making such dates a weekly practice. So, I look forward to exploring other options whether they be concerts, museums, an art project, or something else.

The rest of week 1 has focused on recovering a sense of safety. Most of this weeks writing tasks seemed to focus on uncovering those memories of people/experiences that either discouraged/encouraged your creative endeavors. I don’t know if I was being overly positive, but for the most part I feel like I have had more people encouraging me than discouraging me.  Cameron writes, “If encouraged at all…children are urged into thinking of the arts as hobbies, creative fluff around the edges of real life.” Yes, there were those people who definitely told me to pursue more practical/financially lucrative paths in life. But honestly, the cheerleaders in my life have been much louder. I know I’m my own worst enemy. So, if anyone has been discouraging me, it’s been me. I’ve definitely made progress on this issue in recent months & years, but it’s still something I struggle with. But I’m conscious of the problem & I’m working on it with this process.

Now onto Week 2.