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The Artist’s Way, week 7

I promised an update on how my journey with “The Artist’s Way” has been going. I’m only in week 7 right now because while I was away on vacation, I just stayed in week 6 instead of bringing my book along. I did continue with my journaling however.

The journal writing is what I think I’m now enjoying the most. For several years now I’ve tried to keep a journal, and I always let it slide. I never felt like I had anything important enough to write about. I saw it as a way for later generations to know something about me. In retrospect, I think that idea is what crippled my ability to actually write anything. If it didn’t feel big enough to tell all of my future descendants, it didn’t feel worth writing in my journal. So I just didn’t write anything at all.

With the assignment from the book to just fill up 3 pages every day no matter what I wrote about, that pressure to be important was lifted. Now I babble in my journal. Navel-gazing gibberish or dull details about what errands I ran that day. 3 pages of it. Every day. Heaven help anyone who tries to read it, they’ll be put to sleep in seconds.

But for me, it’s been a sort of therapy. I guess that’s the idea. Somehow it’s easier to let things go once they’re written down. I remember my favorite class that I took in college also required daily free writing. I think we only had to do one or two pages though, or maybe it was just 15 minutes of writing. . . anyway, as I’m rediscovering the fun of stupid writings I think that assignment might be part of what I liked so much about that class.

So what have I really gained so far? Well, I’m starting to think that I’m having so much trouble finishing a story for the same reason I was having trouble keeping a journal. I worry WAY too early in the process about what others might think about it. About where I might try to submit it. Then anything I’m working on instantly doesn’t seem good enough and I stop. No one needs (or would want) to read my rambling journal, and no one needs to read my first drafts. After editing and rewrites, I can decided if I ever want anyone to see a story. Until then, they don’t. I can just have fun.

This is what I think I need to learn.

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The Artist’s Way

So, one of my favorite writing podcasts, I Should Be Writing is working through a book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron together. It’s a kind of workbook for unblocking creativity. I wasn’t feeling particularly blocked or anything, so I’m not sure why exactly why I decided to join it, but I did. So I’m doing the exercises and stuff. I’m in week 3 of the program. There’s a total of. . . hang on let me look it up. . . 12 weeks. I guess I felt like since I don’t get as much writing and other creative time in as I’d like, maybe it would help me to do that.

So far, it isn’t helping me get more writing done. In fact, I’m actually getting less done. The program requires me to write 3 pages (longhand writing) every morning about. . . just whatever. Stream of consciousness stuff. I usually can’t even get dressed in the morning before kids and cats and husbands (okay, just the one husband) need me for something, so I moved the page writing to evening. But evening is when I usually sneak in the little bit of writing I already did. So now I’m writing what feels like pointless ramblings (the book assures me it isn’t pointless) instead of working on my novel, or my newsletter, or my blog. Not loving the program yet.

Another problem I’m having, is that it’s difficult for me to view myself as an ‘artist’. That label doesn’t feel like it fits me. I write about alien fish and robots, and sew quilts that are made to snuggle with, not be hung on walls. Yet I feel like it’s strange that the name should bug me. Artist. Fine. So what? Don’t know why I don’t like it.

But I shall plow forward with this thing for a little while longer at least. If I gain any great insights that I feel are worthwhile, I shall come and report in about it. If any of you have ever heard of this book, or gone through the steps, I’d love to hear your thoughts about it.