The Artist’s Way: Week 2 – Recovering a sense of Identity
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.
The second week of the Artist’s way is all about moving forward and listening to your creative self. I did the morning pages diligently and was surprised to note that I did feel an increased clarity and peace afterwards. By carving out a time to dump out my worries on paper, my brain in turn, agreed to be quieter and calmer for the remainder of the day. I’m still fighting that pesky censor, the one who wants to rip apart any progress, but knowing that it’s a normal part of the process has been very liberating in facing these types of thoughts and actively working to dispel them. I’ve been reading a book called “Why We Write,” a compilation of 20 interviews with acclaimed writers about how and why they write, and the notion of the skeptic/censor is a very common and recurring theme. Hearing writers who have sold millions of books write about crippling insecurity makes you realize how we’re all struggling to give power to that creative voice within us.
For my Artist Date this week I spent some quality time with JJ Abrams’ new book, “S.” I got the book for Christmas from Jesse and it immediately captivated my imagination. It’s funny how my dates seem to be pulling me towards spending time with great creative producers. Last week it was in JK Rowling’s world in London and this week it’s one of my favorite writers/producers, JJ Abrams, who created so many shows that I have loved over the years (Alias, Felicity, Lost, Fringe, Person of Interest), not to mention rebooted the Star Trek franchise.
The book description reads:
One book. Two readers. A world of mystery, menace, and desire.
A young woman picks up a book left behind by a stranger. Inside it are his margin notes, which reveal a reader entranced by the story and by its mysterious author. She responds with notes of her own, leaving the book for the stranger, and so begins an unlikely conversation that plunges them both into the unknown.
The book: Ship of Theseus, the final novel by a prolific but enigmatic writer named V.M. Straka, in which a man with no past is shanghaied onto a strange ship with a monstrous crew and launched onto a disorienting and perilous journey.
The writer: Straka, the incendiary and secretive subject of one of the world’s greatest mysteries, a revolutionary about whom the world knows nothing apart from the words he wrote and the rumors that swirl around him.
The readers: Jennifer and Eric, a college senior and a disgraced grad student, both facing crucial decisions about who they are, who they might become, and how much they’re willing to trust another person with their passions, hurts, and fears.
It’s ridiculously entertaining, and I’m going to do a separate post on this, because otherwise I will become completely sidetracked. The Artist Dates have been very refreshing to me. They allowed me to set aside time to spend with my creative self, a permission that I never knew I had needed. Don’t get me wrong, I spend a lot of time reading and writing and immersing myself in creative worlds, but never with such a focused intent on finding and experiencing sheer delight. It’s that slight nuance that has made all the difference for me. When was the last time you were delighted? When something you read or watched or did brought a smile of pure joy to your face. Chasing this feeling has become a priority in my own processes because I never realized how beneficial delight is to problem solving and innovating. Reading S., made my mind race with my own ideas for books, characters, mystery. It was an important lesson to learn, and one I won’t forget moving forward.
This week’s questions grappled with two major issues: fighting a sense of skepticism and doubt in favor of letting your artistic impulses take the lead and identifying those people Cameron identifies as Crazy Makers. Crazy Makers are people who often stand in the way of your own artistic journey either through the creation of distracting drama, negative attitudes or otherwise inappropriate behaviour that makes you feel bad. The people who ruin your mojo. Identifying these people brought many revelations and helped me reconsider certain relationships in my life. It helped me learn another valuable lesson: I want to apply the same level of focused intent in determining who I spend time with. I want to surround myself with the people and relationships that make me feel positive, inspired, energized and happy.