The Artist’s Way: Week 3 – Recovering a Sense of Power
This is an ongoing series about my experiences with Julia Cameron’s program, The Artist’s Way: A spiritual path to higher creativity. It’s a 12 week program designed to help reboot your creative process and after hearing about it from several friends over the past few years, I gathered a group of like minded creatives and we are embarking on this journey together! You can find the other related entries here.
Week 3 of this program was an interesting one for me. I missed a few days of doing my morning pages since I was traveling and I definitely felt the impact of not doing them. My mornings felt a little off, as though something was missing. The focus of the exercises this week was on anger and shame and their roles during our creative discovery. Cameron writes:
Anger is meant to be acted upon. It is not meant to be acted out. Anger points the direction. We are meant to use anger as fuel to take the actions we need to move where our anger points us. With a little thought, we can usually translate the message that our anger is sending us.
It was uncomfortable at times for me to delve into this notion because it turns out that there were a lot of things that I was angry about that I’d never even realized. Instead of dealing with it, or examining it, I had simply brushed my anger aside, ignoring it and the messages that it was sending me. To see the causes of that anger expressed in my morning pages was a revelation and definitely useful in helping to acknowledge certain behaviours and beliefs that were playing a large part in keeping me from creating the type of things that speak to me. Interestingly, my anger was mostly directed at myself for procrastinating on certain projects and I recognized that the anger was simply a desire to create, specifically the notion of treating my own ideas well by actually executing them.
I constantly jot down ideas, whether they are observations on technology trends, business ideas, book ideas, product ideas -anything and everything that crosses my mind is usually captured in a notebook somewhere. The problem is that after this is done, those ideas just sit there, languishing, sometimes for years. Then I get annoyed when I hear that someone else has been thinking about the same things as I have and are doing something about it. I’m not mad at them, mind you, just myself for not moving on it sooner. So clearly, I need to get better on actually working on some of the projects that have been floating around in my head, and I’ve identified three that I’m aiming to complete by the end of the year. (So take that, anger!)
“The act of making art exposes a society to itself. Art brings things to light. It illuminates us. It sheds light on our lingering darkness. It casts a beam into the heart of our own darkness and says, “See?”
Shame associated with artistic creation is a more nuanced concept because it is tied into the experiences and beliefs that we’ve carried with us from past, our baggage. For me, I’ve always felt a little torn between two separate identities: a strategist and logical minded business person who loves identifying market trends and opportunities, and a dreamer who simply wants to become lost in the worlds and characters of my own imagination. The logical side of me often as a lot of issues with the dreamer and so anything that is created from that perspective is often associated as wasting time on a frivolous pursuit instead of being dedicated to growing a business, acquiring clients etc.
Those two personalities do not peacefully co-exist and the result has been that the dreamer has often been told to sit down, shut up, and go away in favor of being a “grown up.” It’s sad for me to read that, to see it written there in black and white. It’s funny how sometimes you can’t see the very truth that is right in front of your face. This explains why so often I struggled in writing my novel, in justifying putting aside time dedicated to this “frivolity” and how I would feel guilty about it. And yet, despite all of this, my inner creative refused to be silenced, telling me over and over again through morning pages and gut feelings that it needed to be heard.
This echoed last weeks lesson in overcoming the skepticism and letting artistic impulses take the lead and re-enforced the importance of doing this program for me, and giving that part of my self the priority it needs.
Surrendering to the irrational
In light of this, I decided that I should nurture this sense of frivolity and see where it takes me. I was traveling in the US and stopped in Sedona, Arizona for a few days to see the red rocks and canyons of this beautiful part of the world. I learned that Sedona was also a hotspot for something else: energy vortexes known to promote healing and well being. And so, an Artist’s Date was born. Jesse and I spent the afternoon hunting for vortexes, picking out crystals and even doing a chakra energy report. Every time, the censor rolled its eyes and proclaimed it pseudoscience, I silenced it and picked out another fun crystal, like green adventurine to promote luck and prosperity and some amethyst to promote intuition and healing. The result? I had a lot of fun and came home with a few treasures to remind myself how much I enjoy things that aren’t firmly grounded in the logical.