The Artist's Way: Beginning A New Mindset

I found a copy of Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way in one of my favorite second hand bookshops. I immediately gasped and explained to a friend that a podcast (Self-Helpless) I listened to had covered this book on an episode and I always wanted to read it. I was unaware of how this book would consume my everyday for the next twelve weeks and possibly my entire life.

I returned home with the book and reached out to a friend who participated in a book duo with me. I asked if this could be our next read. I urged him on by saying, "I just feel like the two of us are more creative than either one of us allows ourselves to be." He agreed and a tandem project was born. I find that the more involved an "accountability buddy" can be involved in my projects, the more urgency I tend to exert energy towards them. If I'm going to talk about doing something to everyone I know, I need at least one person to ask after a couple of days "So, did you do it?" This friend is often this person.

Before I began the week by week tasks, I had to learn the basics of working your way through The Artist's Way. Each week I learned that I would take myself on an artist's date. "Oh, that'll be easy!", I confidently told myself. I'm currently barely employed and have plenty of time for art! What I didn't anticipate was the immediate surge of doubt that what I considered "creative time" would also count towards this new expectation. That my ideas of setting aside a date with myself each week weren't a true connection to art or how I relate to my inner artist. Did knitting these hats count? I was watching Survivor on Hulu while I was making them and they're technically a Christmas gift. So does that mean I took the time to connect with my inner artist? I taught myself a new skill and added flowers to two of the hats. So does that make it worthy to my inner artist? It is so easy for my brain to convince me I am not following an expectation. Even one like the artist's date that has no set of ground rules, only mild suggestions on how to experience art once a week.

The other main activity that is a basic tool of The Artist's Way is the morning pages. Each morning I have trained myself to wake up, blink, and then grab a notebook that sits on my bedside table waiting for me. The morning pages are often deemed the most important, and yet most frustrating, part of this process. The point of the morning pages is to literally dump your subconscious first thing every morning. I write three hand written pages in a standard sized notebook each morning and it can take anywhere between 20 to 30 minutes. As I join groups online who are also working through The Artist's Way and continue in my process with the book, I find it strange and odd that these are the most difficult task. I have no trouble at all writing the morning pages. With this newfound confidence in writing everyday began my "you're doing it wrong" anxiety. At first, I thought I couldn't be doing the morning pages correctly because they were too coherently written. When talking about the morning pages, Cameron refers to them in terms of "ramblings" or "blurts". When writing my morning pages, they follow a certain flow as thoughts come into my head. Sometimes, they begin with the song lyric that was playing in my head when I woke up. Often, I find myself listing off my priority list for the day. Or I was reminding myself about things I thought I would be doing with my time but have not yet gotten around to thanks to distractions (see my love for Survivor mentioned in the artist's date paragraph). But, what I don't find myself doing during my morning pages is avoiding the task at hand. So clearly, I tell myself that I simply can't be doing them right. If everyone else is finding it a chore or throwing a tantum to write these pages and I'm just doing it, and with little to no effort, then I must be in the wrong. I can't be committed to something meaningful and enjoying it. Can I?

It is this mindset I entered into The Artist's Way and it's spiritual journey. Through these 12 weeks I hope to combat my imposter's syndrome head on. At the end of this book (program? I'm never sure quite what to call it.) I would like to be the kind of woman who holds her head up high and goes "Yes, I do create art. Art lives within me." We shall see if I meet my goal.

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