Tag Archive | The Artist’s Way Reflections

The Artist’s Way Reflections – Synchronicity

astronomySynchronicity takes up a big section of Week Three: Recovering a Sense of Power (you can read about the rest of the chapter here). Enough that I thought it deserved its own post.

I can see why Julia Cameron put it in this chapter on Power, along with Anger and Shame and Growth. Synchronicity is the power of manifestation, of making things happen, of initiative and setting things in motion.

It’s also an aspect of this book that I struggle with. It goes back to my basic struggle with belief. With one side of me being the most hyper-rational skeptic and the other side believing (or at least wanting to) in magic and miracles.

There’s a task in one of the later chapters to record yourself (she was probably thinking tape recorders at the time) reading one of the essays in the book, and I chose this one because I struggle with it so much. (Next time, I’m picking a shorter section to record!)

Synchronicity, and My History Playing With It

When I was doing AW when I was younger, I believed in this synchronicity stuff more, and generally believed in things that could be believed in more. I was maybe a little skeptical but eager to try it out. And the results were…mixed at best.

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The Artist’s Way Reflections – Week Three: Recovering a Sense of Power

MPjournal early fallIn today’s column, I’ll look at all of the essays, exercises and tasks of Week Three in The Artist’s Way, except for Synchronicity, a fairly long section, which will be the focus of next week’s post. That’s a whole beast of a topic to tackle.

In thinking about this week and all its topics, including Synchronicity, it strikes me that this one line in the Detective Work, an Exercise section could be the topic sentence for the whole chapter. It reads:

“Many blocked people are actually very powerful and creative personalities who have been made to feel guilty about their own strengths and gifts.”

She goes on to say that:

“Made to feel guilty for their talents, they often hide their own light under a bushel for fear of hurting others. Instead, they hurt themselves.”

To my mind, all the little essays in this chapter illuminate more about these lines, and get at how we lose our power through shamings and criticisms, how we give away our power by ignoring the messages from our difficult friend Anger, and how to start to take it back with detective work, synchronicity, and finally, growth.

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The Artist’s Way Reflections – Week Two: Recovering a Sense of Identity

brightcitrussunflowerThis chapter, like the name says, focuses on identity. It seems so simple, but I think a blurring of identity underlies a lot of creative blockage. It gets blurry because we get inundated with messages–family, friends, teachers, social media, TV at large–that tell us what we should want, who we should be. And there are parts of ourselves we give up for various reasons. It’s all too easy to get to a place where you’re going through life unsure of who you even are.

I definitely felt that in medical school; I saw myself going through the motions of doing all the things I was supposed to do, and all the things I had to do on top of that, and it all took so much time and energy that I felt like there was so little me left. I’ve also felt something similar in destructive relationships.

For whatever reason, it’s just so easy to lose yourself. At least, it is for me. So, I like this chapter and its tasks and how the focus on self-definition and sorting out the signal from the noise all around us.

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The Artist’s Way Reflections – Time Travel: Creative Monsters and Champions

task7Today’s column will cover the Time Travel tasks from Week One. Next week, we’ll move on to Week Two. You can find the full schedule for the rest of the year at the bottom of this post!

I decided to pull out the Time Travel tasks (Tasks 3-7, so most of them) from Week One in their own post for a couple of reasons. One was to be able to ease in, pacing-wise, by spreading Week One out over two weeks here.

Sometimes starting (or restarting) The Artist’s Way can feel a bit like thawing out something frozen, and there’s something painful and scary about that. It can be like melting something that solidified inside you. And it’s not easy.

To me, these Time Travel tasks feel like the first steps in that process. And they can be hard. Last time through, in March, I skipped most of them and only half-heartedly and incompletely did the ones I didn’t skip.

I thought they deserved extra attention in their own post as an acknowledgement that they’re hard, and a way of tackling them together.

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The Artist’s Way Reflections – Week One: Recovering a Sense of Safety

MPs coverSo here we are (again, for me, so many times over), Week One.

I’ve had a lot of false starts with The Artist’s Way, AW for shorthand as it’s known around my journals, so this chapter is well-trodden ground. So much so that some parts I know so well that I could give a good gist without reading it anew. Like knowing almost all the lines and all the music cues in a favorite pilot episode.

Technically, Week One in The Artist’s Way book will span two weeks here, since next week’s focus is on the Time Travel tasks from Week One (for the full schedule, check out the bottom of this post). So we’re easing in a little here.

Since this is the first post based on a Week chapter, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to structure the posts. I’m thinking I’ll go section by section through the chapter, giving a bit of commentary on each. I’ll pull out a favorite of the quotes scattered throughout the chapter, and then discuss or post excerpts of the tasks. I’ll pepper questions into each section. If you’re joining in, now or in the future, feel free to answer as much or as little as you’d like.

The picture on the right is a picture of my current Morning Pages journal, which is almost all used up.

Week One: Recovering a Sense of Safety

Shadow Artists

In this section, there are several examples given of how a blocked creative person can be a shadow artist. Sponsoring a creative person but not allowing your own creativity (there was an amazing story about a blocked billionaire who gifted an artist with a year’s living expenses so they could focus on their art, so I’m just saying that if there are any benevolent billionaires out there looking for creative people to sponsor, I’m right here). Investing in supporting a loved one’s creative career while never igniting your own. Representing artists, working as a critic, becoming an art therapist or a marketing exec instead of an artist, going to law school or med school instead of writing (ummm ooops?), all these ways of being on the periphery.

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The Artist’s Way Reflections – Preview Digression on Spirituality

Orkila winter 2This post is off-schedule, a day before launching the first post focusing on a chapter of The Artist’s Way. It wasn’t planned, but I went on such a digression about the Introduction part of AW that I decided to pull it out and make it its own post so it wouldn’t distract from the post about the week.

So, some thoughts on the introduction, and reflection on spirituality in my life:

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The Artist’s Way Reflections – Re-Starting the Journey

complete awIn previous posts in this Artist’s Way Reflections column, I’ve written about having a two-decade relationship with this landmark book on creativity and its basic tools (Morning Pages and the Artist Date) and its essays and exercises and tasks, all aimed and at opening, or re-opening a connection to creativity. Discovering and recovering your artistic self.

And now that the Basic Tools have been covered, next week I’ll move on to the main text of the book.

I’m hoping that some of you will join me on this Artist’s Way journey. Later in the post, I’m going to give a sketch of my plans for doing the book and this column, and different ways to join in. To find that, you can skip ahead to the section titled The Plan.

First though, I wanted to give a little history on my latest re-launch of the journey.

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The Artist’s Way Reflections – The Basic Tools: The Artist Date

Artist DateIn The Artist’s Way, the seminal book on creativity, author Julia Cameron introduces two Basic Tools, after the introduction and before the week-by-week chapters. These two Basic Tools, she says, are the cornerstone to connecting with creativity.

The first is Morning Pages, discussed in last week’s Artist’s Way Reflections column, the practice of writing three handwritten pages of whatever comes to mind every morning. I’ve wrestled with these pages, but ultimately find them to be helpful, a way to connect to what I’m actually feeling, which isn’t always easy but is in its own way grounding. They’re also a good source of fresh ideas, a way to puzzle through problems and often a place to dump the mental waste before starting the day.

The second Basic Tool is the Artist Date. You’re supposed to go on a “date” with your artist self once a week. Do something fun for an hour and no one else is allowed to come along. Quality time with your creative side.

And I’m going to be real. I get the theory behind it, it all sounds great when Julia Cameron extols the values of an Artist Date. But in actuality, I hate it.

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The Artist’s Way Reflections – The Basic Tools: Morning Pages

MPsIn The Artist’s Way, aka AW, a book I’m blogging about weekly, one of the first thing that the author, Julia Cameron, introduces is the practice of Morning Pages. As far as I know, this is also true for subsequent spin-offs and sequels. Morning Pages are the cornerstone of all her work on discovering, recovering, and reconnecting with creativity.

So, that raises (not begs) the question of what are they and why are they so important. Morning Pages are simple at face value. When you wake up, you’re supposed to write three pages of long-hand writing, about anything you damn well please. The keys are that they’re supposed to be in the morning, they’re supposed to be long-hand and they’re supposed to be private–even you yourself aren’t supposed to look at them for awhile.

The morning part of it is to clear your head, dump out all your little thoughts and worries and random tidbits floating in your head that otherwise could nag at you for the rest of the day. And morning because maybe when we’re still groggy, there’s less self-censorship. That’s part of the privacy aspect, that they’re never to be shown to anyone because once they are, the other person’s judgements come in, and so do your own.

To that point, though this is probably a story for another day, I did once have a boyfriend who told me, drunk off his ass when we were in a fight, that he’d read mine and then made fun of me for things I’d written. Fun freakin’ times.

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The Artist’s Way Reflections – My Origin Story

AW1This past March, I picked up The Artist’s Way again after many years away from this famous creativity book. It’s been an interesting ride since then–expansive, challenging, difficult, combative at times (I definitely don’t resonate with everything in there), illuminating. So, it’s one of the things I wanted to post about when jumping back into blogging and thinking a lot about creativity.

I went back to The Artist’s Way, or AW as it’s known in my journals and to-do lists and calendars, after some tough decisions that set off a real transition time for me that I reeeeeally want to write about but can’t right now. It had been awhile since I’d cracked the book, and it makes sense to talk about my origin story with this book.

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