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 Four: The Abyss
Tool: Admitting Our Emotions
- Put on some nice music – something that isn’t distracting but that you enjoy
- Get out your journal
- Write “If I let myself admit it I feel __” and fill in the blank multiple times
I put on some instrumental fall jazz because I’m basic and I love that kind of thing. And I wrote all my fears and petty BS and also things I’m secretly excited about and embarrassed to admit. It felt both good and bad, because there is definitely more work to do.
Tool: Anger as a Map
This exercise was all about naming and acting on the things that make you angry. As they say in the book, anger can be a powerful, useful guide pointing us in the direction of our aspirations/goals/dreams. Or, it can fester and become a destructive force that ruins your relationships and makes you and others miserable.
- List 3 situations that piss you off
- Write why they make you mad
- Ask yourself, “what is one positive action I can use my anger to accomplish?”
Um, yeah, given the current world (and really always) there is a lot to be angry about. I found this tool to be extremely helpful in that I started looking for solutions/problem solving instead of just being passively upset. For example, I’m pretty pissed off about climate change right now and that I don’t feel like enough is being done and we don’t have time for inaction. I’m not a politician and it can feel like there’s not much I can do as an individual. But using this tool, I did take a number of actions that felt like SOMETHING. (I found out about The Canopy Project, and am making a plan to donate monthly + I actually ordered a bidet, which is both a life upgrade and better for the environment!).
This is a great tool to use for those macro issues, like I mentioned above, even if all I can do is take a small personal action.
But this tool was also good for something in my personal life. For example, I get angry at myself for not making enough time to create. So the solution is simple: Put it first on the calendar and make it non-negotiable.
I will be coming back to this tool again and again.
Tool: Footholds for Optimism
The idea here is that to emerge from this abyss, you need something/someone you can feel optimistic about and bring to mind or reach out to when the going gets tough.
- List 5 people or situations you feel positively about
I felt happier just looking at my list and knowing I could reach out to the people on it whenever I need a boost OR I could just think about them, maybe do a loving kindness meditation and get into a better headspace.
Tool: Countering Our Critics
Criticism can be an important part of bettering any creative work, or other work too, but not all criticism is fair or helpful. Or even really designed to be those things. It can be toxic, especially when it is vague, indirect, involves name-calling, etc. We’ve all received criticism and will continue to do so and learning how to handle it well, so it furthers our development certainly feels like a crucial skill to develop.
- Grab your journal
- List 3 pieces of painful criticism you’ve received
- Then ask yourself how your least mature “child self” might respond
- Then respond to the criticism as your “adult self”
- Finally, access the Inner Mentor (discussed a few weeks earlier) – your most wise inner self, how they might respond or what advice they’d give YOU in dealing with this criticism? How did you contribute to the criticism?
I enjoyed metally telling a few people to eff right off in my “child self” response, honestly. But it was also important to face that some of those criticisms, however ineloquently they were offered, did contain some valuable information and areas I needed to work on. It was helpful to put my ego aside and consider these critiques without the baggage. And even for criticism that feels completely unhelpful and where there seems to be nothing to learn, I was able to use this tool to find empathy for the person doling it out.
The title of this section of the process, The Abyss, is appropriate! It actually took me two weeks to do all of the assignments.
Morning Pages: I’m doing them, but I keep needing to re-commit to completing the full 3 pages.
Walks: Have not been keeping up with the 20 minute daily walks – our air quality was basically poison up until 3 days ago.
Watched: Baroque’s Dark Heart (Art History Documentary) | Perspective
Reading: Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynn Jones
What a weird week! It was actually mostly good all the way up until Friday when RBG passed away. Ugh! Honestly, I’m so glad to be in the middle of this project during this crazy election cycle and with so much chaos. Feels grounding and like I’ve got something to channel my existential dread through.