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 on the tools that were most effective for me from the book. There are always way more exercises and information in the book, so please get a copy and follow along!
WEEK 9: Owning Our Ambition
Many of us are afraid to admit what we want and afraid of losing what we already have. This week is all about clearing fears so we can start owning our ambition – or admitting what we really want.
Tool: Clearing Fear
This tool is to help you move out of stuckness and into creativity and flow.
- Select a container – a jar, an urn, a box, whatever you want
- Write a worry or fear on a slip of paper or tear off a small piece of paper
- Put in container and “give it up to the universe”
- Do it with anything you’re tempted to obsess over
I have a marble urn I found at a thrift store ages ago and I chose it for my container and promptly wrote a fear on it, which felt good. And I already forgot what it was, so maybe it worked? 🙂
Tool: Contacting Clark Kent
This one is all about getting over the idea that you need to do it all and all by yourself and to help you build community/congenial relationships in your work.
- Make a list of 3 colleagues/contacts/acquaintances that you like
- Reach out to them and let them know something made you think of them
- Make plans to catch up with one of them socially
I made the list and reached out on social media a bit. It was good to get out of my day to day bubble. I did not make any plans with any of them to meet. We’re in a pandemic! I could probably stretch myself and do a catch up Zoom chat… I’m getting a little Zoomed out these days though.
Tool: Local Color
The author’s talk about “business beige” and the tendency many of us have to kind of blend in and not bring our full selves to our work a lot. This tool is designed to help you break out of that using the power of beauty.
- Select 5 pieces of natural beauty to surround yourself with
- Bring them to your office or wherever you spend a lot of time
This was fun. I selected a piece of wood my husband gave me once because it looks like a magic wand, some flowers I dried – peonies from my garden and some roses I received from a client, a flat stone I found in our backyard that I like, a pretty piece of citrine, as well as an essential oil roller and a cutting from a plant and arranged them all on a little table in my office.
Tool: Resentment Resume
This exercise is a lot like the “jealousy map” but with resentment. The idea is to get rid of all your little resentments and go from a place of blame to taking action. It is one of the “housecleaning tools” as the book’s authors call it – meant to be used regularly as needed.
- Get out your journal/paper and pen
- Make three columns down the page
- Title the first column: I Resent
- Title the second column: Why
- Finally the third column: Action
- Do this for anybody or anything you’re resenting that you can think of
- Start taking the actions you listed in the third column
I struggled a little bit to get going but overall it was a good experience. I saw that I use a lot of scapegoats for not showing up fully for myself, even though I know it is really up to me when and how I show up and do my creative work, mostly. (Within reason – I obviously need to work and have other humans I want to show up for and spend time with too, of course.)
Tool: Blasting Through Blocks
This one is for when you are feeling resistance to any project you’re working on or need to get started on to help you stop procrastinating.
- List your grievances you feel around this project
- List your fears about the project or anything/anyone connected to it
- Go back and ask yourself if you missed anything – are there any other fears or resentments?
- Ask yourself what you’re getting out of NOT doing the project?
- Make a deal with yourself and the deal is that you take care of the quantity of work and “creative force” will take care of the quality of the work
- Do the work
I notice that with all of these exercises it is much easier for me to come up with my fears than it is my grievances or hidden anger. So, there’s that. 1 and 2 basically ended up being mostly 2s – fears, etc. And absolutely I get a lot out of not doing the creative projects I want to be doing – like letting things be perfect in my head forever. So just acknowledging that is helpful. And onto number 5 – this has been SUPER helpful, even with something simple like this blog series.
Writing this blog series has felt a lot like old school blogging – bordering on Live Journal. 🙂 I will probably go clean it up and only leave what’s most useful for people later on but for now I’m just getting into the practice of posting and sharing regularly again and that has helped with resistance with other projects too. Yay!
Tool: Succeeding With Success
The idea here is to help you keep grounded and connected as you begin to experience more success. The authors say that in their observations, most people who fail when they were succeeding do so because they become isolated.
- Make a list of 10 people who would love to hear from you
- Send them each a card
- Make another list – this one of 10 activities that ground and comfort your
- Do one a day while in the throes of success
I made my list and I started writing cards but I have not sent them yet. Conveniently, this is right around the holiday season, so I’m sending cozy holiday cards. Is that cheating? Maybe a little, but they are hearing from me and I am sending personalized messages to everybody so I think we’re good here.
I also made my list of 10 activities that ground me, which I will include below and I’d love to hear yours if you want to share.
10 Comforting/Grounding Rituals:
- Solo walk at a local nature preserve
- Tidying everything up
- Beauty rituals – doing my hair, skincare/masks, giving myself a manicure/pedicure
- Simply taking a shower or a bath
- Organizing tasks in my project manager or making model weeks (is that sick?)
- Wrapping up tight in a blanket and watching a movie
- Drinking tea or hot cocoa
- Guided meditation – I can meditate without a guide but sometimes it feels good to just be walked through it
- Journaling and coloring
- Making lists and lists of lists
Lists are really my happy place so of course I had fun with this experiment.
Tool: Framing Our Lives
- It’s time to read through your Morning Pages
- Go through and look for themes and topics that keep coming up
- What is your impression? Has anything changed? What are the patterns?
Uh… I did not expect to have to re-read them and goodness my handwriting is like a secret code. But, a lot has changed since I started them and I did notice some patterns. Some things have not changed and are still coming up over and over again.
Everything seems a little more lighthearted now though.
I was a little grumpy and dramatic about 10 weeks ago. It was interesting to see the themes and patterns though, lots of Enoughness worries (Am I doing enough? Am this or that enough? Etc.)
I’ve been consistent but imperfect with my Morning Pages practice. I wish I could sit down and do them faster. They take me an hour. I can sometimes get 3 pages done in 30 minutes but often I linger and refill my coffee and they end up taking up a lot of my morning or I do like a page and a half and say screw it and move on the rest of my routine. It remains a goal of mine to get this done in a shorter period of time.
Time Outs/Artist Dates
I’m doing them – sort of! I still want to make these more of a thing. Last week I joined a garden society and went to a garden planning meeting – so that was a lovely Time Out mid-week.
Recently, a friend shared on Instagram that the Met streams operas each night for free – and then she made it a whole lovely evening with her family. I love this! This is definitely the kind of Time Out/Artist Date I’d like to have at least once a month. (But keeping up with a weekly Time Out of any kind once a week.)
The authors ask what synchronicity have you experienced this week? And you know what? I kind of did have two experiences with this.
One was all about bees and I was sharing stuff about bees and the Bee Wise Plant Society I joined when my client shared she had a dream about bees and their benevolent energy following a man with bees on his eyes. Just kind of a coincidence.
The second was right after I did the exercise of reviewing my Morning Pages, and realizing that a major theme of my morning pages was whether or not I was doing enough on my weekends or how to do them better, etc. And then she shared that same morning a post about how to create magical weekends. Neat!
I have definitely been better about taking care of myself on all levels. I’m taking walks with my family in the middle of the workday and getting fresh air and sunshine and quality time that way. I’m meditating for a little longer, and like I said above, I noticed there is so much more lightheartedness in the way I’m talking to myself.
Alright that’s it for Week 9! 3 more weeks. Crazy.