I’m currently working through a 12 week program to help me tap back into my creativity and inspiration via the book: The Artist’s Way at Work: 12 Weeks to Creative Freedom by Julia Cameron, Mark Bryan, and Catherine Allen.
This is the business version of the very famous original book, The Artist’s Way also by Julia Cameron.
I started this project after feeling like I’ve been in a bit of a rut when it comes to working on my own, non-client-related work.
You can read more about this in my intro post right here.
I’m going week by week and reporting back.
Week One: Emergence
Tool: Morning Pages
This week was all about getting back into doing the full 3 pages of the morning pages for me. As I’ve said before, this journaling practice has had significant benefits for my mental health and I’ve been doing them imperfectly for years now.
- Get an 8.5 x 11 inch journal
- Write in the morning (or as early in the day as you can)
- Handwrite in your journal for 3 full pages
- Write as quickly as possible without stopping until your done
- These journal entries are stream of consciousness
- It’s okay if a lot of your pages are lists
- Don’t reread your journal (at least not anytime soon)
- Don’t let anyone else read your journal
I still love the way the morning pages make me feel. However, I am also still not doing them “perfectly.”
I started off strong last week, but as the week wore on, I noticed that I found every excuse to get up in the middle of a sentence – I needed more coffee or something really needed to be looked up on my phone.
Sitting my buns down for 20-30 minutes and writing fast was hard. The few days I did manage to write without interruption, I did notice that I felt less anxious, was a bit more motivated, and less foggy. So, here’s hoping that this coming week I manage more days than not sticking with it.
Tool: Creative Colleague
This tool is all about accountability. The authors suggest reporting your progress to someone else, possibly someone who is also working through this 12-week book.
- Ask someone to join you for the next 12 weeks or at least to let you check in with them
- Make a weekly date to check in and share your experiences
- Repeat until the 12 weeks are up
Dear reader, you are my Creative Colleague. I hope you grab a copy of the book and follow along too. 🙂 And if you at any point decide you want to do this too, just let me know and I will be your Creative Colleague.
Tool: Secret Selves
You’ve probably heard of the “inner critic.” And if not? You’ve most likely experienced it. It’s that voice in your head that tells you the things you make or do or say are dumb or have already been said too many times before, or judge you in a myriad of other ways.
This book takes that idea farther and says we all have a cast of inner selves, an inner critic, maybe a few different types of inner critics, like one is parental, another is some snobs you went to college with, maybe you even have an inner cheerleader and an inner mentor.
- Take out a piece of paper and a pen
- Write a list of 3 to 5 different “voices” you have in your head
- Name them and give them a little personality
- Ask these secret selves for their opinion on whatever is on your mind, calling each one out by name
Also, the authors note that these are all parts of your psyche and do have value. They aren’t necessarily “bad” even if they are mean. The inner critic wants to keep you safe, etc. But that doesn’t mean you need to listen to them!
Honestly, this exercise made me feel more confused than relieved and the noise inside my brain got louder. It felt like a whole team of people were talking at me and yelling over each other. Eventually, I did narrow it down to 3 main inner voices – an inner critic, an inner mentor, and a sort of third inner cheerleader who is a bit grandiose. We’ll see if this tool gets more helpful over time, but I’m not totally on board with this one yet.
Tool: Inner Mentor
This tool is all about tapping into your inner wisdom by imagining yourself older and wiser and seeing what advice she has to offer.
- Block out 45 minutes on your schedule
- Take out a piece of paper
- Set a timer for 30 minutes
- Write a letter from your inner mentor to your current self
- After the 30 minutes is up, read your letter to yourself
I LOVED this exercise. It may feel a little silly to some of you, but just go with it. My letter was encouraging, but not overly so. She told me some obvious truths and shared some tips for prioritizing and getting down to what really matters. A++, highly recommended for me. 🙂
So, to wrap it up:
This week was overall a good shift out of the funky mood and into the right direction. It’s not that I didn’t have moments of overwhelm or feeling unclear, but I did notice that the morning pages helped tremendously, especially when I completed them fully and quickly.
I really enjoyed the Inner Mentor letter and felt very empowered by it. I did not love the Secret Selves/Inner Chorus exercise or find it helpful yet.
What do you do when you need to break out of a rut? Any tips or tricks to share? Let me know in the comments. 🙂 Truly! I need all the tricks.