I love the feeling of a fresh start on New Years Day. I get so hopeful and inspired. What can I do to better myself, my home or my family? Can I make this year better than the last?
My answer: I hope so! 2013 was not a good year for me or many of the people in my life. There was a lot of loss and a lot of tears. And for me a series of disappointments, both personally and professionally. I ended the year frustrated, tired and in a rut. For someone who works in a (supposedly) creative field (see? there I go… I’m bitter), I’ve been feeling brain dead. It’s like I have dust bunnies in my brain. There’s just too much junk, too much old baggage, hurt feelings and fear. It’s clouding my thoughts. So I’m taking a bold move to give myself a little boost. It’s called “The Artist’s Way”.
I first hear about The Artist’s Way from a woman, Amy, who I met while I was working on a Semester At Sea voyage in 2005. Amy gave a short lecture on the book, describing how it made her more creative and improved her way of thinking. Ever since, I’ve kept the idea of completing the 12-week course in the back of my mind. For 8 years I’ve been thinking about doing it. It’s time to actually do it.
But this is far from my first venture into creative growth. I’ve been working on it since I was in elementary school, when I was part of an Odessey of the Mind team for years. Okay, Odyssey of the Mind (or “O-M” as we called it) was pretty much the geekiest thing ever, but it was fun. It taught kids something most schools don’t teach, creative problem solving. Parents were strictly told to STAY OUT OF IT. So kids were left to build cars, write plays, design structures and solve puzzles on their own. It was fun and it taught me that creativity is not divine inspiration, it’s something you grow. It’s like a muscle, the more you work it, the stronger it gets. Mine has atrophied over the last few years, so I need to get back to it.
So that brings me back to today, where I begin a this 12-week program to rebuild my creative muscles. The Artist’s Way is a book that was written in 1992 by Julia Cameron. She calls is “a course in recovering and discovering your creative self”. It’s based around the idea that fear limits our creative process. We put up our own road blocks that hold ourselves back, those need to be broken back down. Each morning I’ll be doing 3-pages of free association writing (with a pen on paper, no computers allowed!). These are called morning pages. And once a week I will go on an “Artist’s Date”. This is an outing I take by myself tht supports or inspires my “inner artist.” There are also some excercises and readings for each week’s lessons, but those are the two main tools.
One important note: I’m not planning to become a better “artist” through this. It’s not about improving my painting, drawing or photography skills. This is about creativity. I want to do more work, better work, more inspired work and get over the mental blocks that are standing in my way. I’ve decided to write about the experience here on my website, both to hold myself accountable to completing the course and because maybe it will help inspire someone else, like Amy did for me. Look for updates here every Sunday for the next 12 weeks. And…. I’m off….