Have you heard of “The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity” by Julia Cameron?
The book was published many years ago in 1991 and was written for people who may have experienced a block in their creativity. It’s a 12-week program that enables the reader to rediscover their creativity and curiosity through reflection and journal writing.
Some years ago, I borrowed the book from the library and admittedly, when I picked it up, I was surprised.
It looked quite dated, it was well used and the pages yellowed. It was something that you’d find in a second hand book store and wouldn’t look twice at.
As I read the pages, and looked at the activities it struck me that there was a lot of writing. I also had to commit to a lot of time doing the weekly activities and check-ins.
There was the requirement of daily “morning pages” where you write three pages every morning before you start your day and also take yourself on an artist date every week. To be fair, I quickly rifled through the book because it didn’t strike me as anything different to what I was already doing.
A few years later and especially as all this covid issue started, I did notice myself going in my shell a bit more.
For a couple of years now, I’ve been noticing that I’m not as creative anymore because I’m not expressing myself in any way that is playful or curious. I stopped blogging for a while. I stopped being part of communities. I lost my connection with creative communities that I was a part of. I also lost interest in writing about learning and development because I felt I was becoming too repetitive, my network online had disappeared either deciding to stop social media use or weren’t sharing anymore.
My focus then turned to more closer contacts with friends and family in my local vicinity as well as to my own work at Adopt & Embrace to build the community there of IT, Change and Business managers.
Looking at the news and hearing the depressing state of the world, I also found my humour disappear completely and instead, immersed myself into reading stories in novels, watching romantic or comedy movies. As an introvert (yes, believe it or not), my world became smaller and it centred within my mind and home.
A couple of weeks ago, I met up with a good friend for coffee and a book exchange and she mentioned the Artist’s Way again and I decided to give it a go again. This time I will commit to the actions and see if it helps me get outside of my head a bit more.
I’m quite lucky to be in a position where some years back, I made a decision to only work three days a week to spend the rest of my time doing the things I love. For example, in one activity in the book, Julia asks us to write down 20 things you love to do and then against each one mark how often you do these.
To be fair, except for travelling internationally, going to the movies and theatre and catching up with friends – everything else I do on a regular basis. Even the artist dates is what I have been doing for a while and sharing videos of jaunts I get up to (sometimes inviting friends to come along with me for fun). Here’s an example of how much fun I have on my own…
I’m only in Week 2 of the Artists Way and already I’ve had some revelations that I hadn’t considered and I am feeling a lit bit more confident again about things – certainly not as anxious as I was originally when COVID started but just an acceptance that I’ll be okay. I’m my own worst enemy but in the grand scheme of things, I’m alright.
My only enemies are my negative self-sabotaging thoughts and imposter syndrome and whack in a dose of cynicism pretending that I really don’t care for a lot of things when in actual fact, I really do.
So what is it that I need to build creativity for?
No reason really in the grand scheme of things. I guess I don’t want to be in my own head anymore. It’s exhausting.
At work we are getting ready to write our second book to do with Teams and Collaboration and I’m excited to get involved here because I loved the process of writing the first book. I do think sometimes that I have another book in me but not a non-fiction or fiction book – something a bit different. However, I’m not going to write it here because someone will steal the idea anyway.
Nevertheless I know that the book idea is not the issue here – in some way, that’s the easy thing. The hard thing is to MOTIVATE myself and fight those thoughts of ‘the time isn’t right’, ‘it’s not going to be perfect’ and worse, “If I write it, will I have to be stuck with it and have to make it into a business?” (that’s why I’m doing this program).
The latter is the WORST I CAN POSSIBLY CONTEMPLATE.
Because it seems nowadays that every time you’re creative, people tell you things like:
- “Why not create a podcast?”
- “Create a business from it!”
- “Write a book about it!”
- “Why don’t you monetise this?”
People don’t care about HOW you go about being creative because they seem to base success on some tangible outputs: your job, money you earn, your level of “busyness, the programs you create from it so that you can sell…
That’s not what creativity is about. It’s about doing something JUST BECAUSE you love doing it. It’s not a goal orientated process.
So what if I don’t make a business from it? So what if I don’t make money from it. That’s NOT the point of being creative because it is about EXPRESSION and nowadays professional people seem to be too scared to express themselves in case they thought be others as frivolous or unprofessional. In some way, this time of covid has been a delight for me because we are finally seeing some people let loose and show their creative selves online – and they’re coming across way more human and approachable than before.
So let’s see how this program now goes. If I can get rid of the negative thoughts and get back my spirit of humour, delight, curiosity and playfulness once again then I’m back on track.