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 Two: The Roar of The Awakening
This tool is also called an Artist’s Date in the OG Artist’s Way book. This one is all about refilling your inspiration well, getting new input, so you have more to pull from as you create your own work.
- Schedule a 1 to 2 hour block of time on your calendar
- Make sure you can be by yourself
- Go do something or learn about something you’ve been curious about
- The point of this is NOT personal development! You’re not trying to “improve”
- Come from a place of curiosity and play
I scheduled a two hour block on Friday to watch a movie by myself, and then promptly got swamped and scrapped it. Damn it!
So, I ended up blocking out Sunday for a whole-day time-out.
It was lovely. I picked some thyme and lavender for the pear galette my husband made, picked some extra herbs like sage and flowered lemon balm and other things from my yard and made little bouquets just for fun. Then, I watched a PBS documentary about ceramics called Out of the Fire: The Art and Science of Ceramics and finally I watched Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist + ate a couple slices of pear galette.
Also: I think I might still be partial to calling this an Artist’s Date rather than a time-out. I like both, but I feel like calling it a date might make me want to make it extra fancy?
(I’m doing this project here in the time of COVID-19 + California fires, so my time-outs need to be mostly indoor/at home for now.)
Tool: The Dialogue
- Get a blank sheet of paper and a pen
- Draw a line down the center
- Write “Pessimist” on one side and “Optimist” on the other
- Under the Pessimist heading, go to town writing out all your negative thoughts and fears about doing this 12-week program
- Under “Optimist” write out all your hopes and positive feelings about doing the program
I surprised myself by really enjoying this one. I thought I’d start getting lots of competing brain chatter again and end up feeling more confused. But no! Writing out all my pessimistic thoughts was enlightening.
I was surprised at how many negative thoughts I did have about doing a creative program like this I really did have. And getting them out in the open, I was able to counter a lot of them as the BS they really are.
For example, the idea that I’ll somehow be ‘bad’ at them, but this is a personal journey and I don’t really think there is a way for one person to be bad at it and another to be good, even if someone quits, since maybe they got what they needed and moved on.
Tool: Archaeology, Round One + Round Two
Get out your journal or a blank sheet of paper + pen
Fill in the following statements as quickly as possible
My father thought I was _ My mother thought I was
In my early education I learned __
- What I would have needed as a child was___
- The thing that makes me most sad about my life is _ If only I had_
- If only they had _ My strengths as a child were
- My family’s strengths were __
(There are more questions for both Round One and Round Two in the book.)
Round One made me a little sad. It was interesting for me to see what came up when I had to answer quickly and there was a mix of good and bad in my responses to the questions.
So, it didn’t feel amazing the whole time to do this Archaeology, but I can see how this type of journaling could be beneficial to unblocking creativity. And by the end of Round Two, I definitely felt lots of love appreciation for my family and upbringing.
Tool: The Us and Them List
Again take out your journal/blank sheet of paper + pen
As quickly as possible fillin the blank for “creatives are ” 5 times Do the same for “success is ”
This tool is meant to help you see if you’re putting creative people on a pedestal or if you have negative views about what it means to be a “creative” (and could be both!) and I definitely noticed I had some views of creative people as superior genius types, so I will try to notice when I’m doing that again in the future.
Tool: Imaginary Lives
- Grab that paper + pen
- Make a list of 5 jobs or roles that you are curious about/think might be fun
- Keep the list
Fun!!! I think it was hard to keep it to 5. Mine were:
- Floral Designer
- Neuroscientist/Cognitive Scientist
- Curriculum Designer
- Urban Farmer
- Honorable Mentions: Potter, Psychotherapist, Researcher/Research Librarian
I feel like this list could get really really long if I let it. Alex, my husband feels the same way. Actually, he said he’s at least a little bit curious about every job. Like it might be interesting to follow a wastewater treatment person even for a day.
Anyway, the exercise is just to make the list, but it was fun to play with flowers and watch a documentary about clay/ceramics after doing this exercise.
Tools: Affirmations and Blurts + Customized Affirmations
- Write out affirmations
- Write out any “blurts” your inner critic says after you write your affirmations next to the affirmations (a blurt will be like if you say “I have leadership potential” and you immediately think “nobody likes you” – that second part is the blurt)
- Customize your affirmations to you
- Write any blurts next to your affirmations
- Correct these blurts with new thoughts
I admit it, I haven’t done this one yet. I’ll update here once I’ve gotten this done.
Tool: Dumping The Albatross
Do you blame your work for getting in the way of your creative aspirations? Or someone or something else? There’s never a perfect situation and you don’t need one in order to bring more creativity into your business or life. So, this tool helps you appreciate your creative “albatross” instead of resenting it.
- Grab your pen + paper
- List 10 reasons why your job is important to you
- List who you like at your job + who you don’t and why + what could change to make that better
- List positive things about your current job that could help you in future roles
- Pretend you’re a monk and that your whole day is your practice
I already like my job and the people I work with so most of this was pretty easy, but I have not yet gone through my day pretending to be a monk, treating all of my activities like a sacred practice. But I do hope to try that soon!.
Tool: Walking Your Wisdom
A lot of people do their best thinking on a walk, or getting into the shower. The idea here is to move your body and gather your thoughts, kind of like a moving meditation.
Walk for 20 minutes by yourself at least weekly, ideally daily
I walk a lot already with the dogs, but this last week our area happened to have severely bad air quality due to the California fires. Ugh, so sad!
But it seems to be clearing up, so this is another one I’ll be adding in more of (or at least more intentionally) in the following weeks.
Weekly Check-in/Wrap up
So, I managed to do an Artist’s Date, to write my Morning Pages pretty successfully, and to do a lot of these exercises, but some are To Be Continued…
This project is helping me to feel better already. It actually started making me feel better the moment I chose to do it, because starting projects is always fun, but these tools have been more helpful than I thought they’d be. Hooray! It is still early in this 12-week program, but looking forward to the next 10 weeks in the process.