The artists way is a fantastic book by Julia Cameron that is a 12-week self-directed course on recovering and healing our creativity. I have tried it many times before and gotten a lot out of it, but I’ve never actually finished it. And as I have a little bit more energy then I’ve had the last few years, I find that I feel a certain kind of restlessness that is soothed by being creative. To me, creativity is a wonderful outlet for the pressures and stresses of spoonie life. It helps me feel like a whole person, beyond just my illness.
If you are going to do this along with me, I strongly recommend getting the book because it is almost like having a therapy session with her each week. She goes in depth into the topic of each week, such as safety. But I also recognize that on spoonie budgets it can be very difficult. I will be posting a summary of what I am getting out of the book each week. And I am going to try, spoons permitting, to do a video each week. Hopefully this will be helpful to other people. Here is the video for this week, with most of the same info as this post: https://youtu.be/NAHj0xK4v8E
In doing a spoonie version, the focus will really be on what serves my highest health, rather than just getting things done. A successful week will be where I get even just one thing done. The challenge for me will be to let go of what I was not able to do, and move forward with the learning, healing and benefit that I got from what I was able to do.
This week is getting prepared, and getting familiar with the structure and basic tools of the daily pages and the artists date.
I will be doing this from Sunday to Saturday. That means on Sunday I will be reading the new chapter, and speed writing through the exercises that I can manage to do that day. Then throughout the week I will be trying to do the daily pages, the artist dates, and some of the tasks at the end of the chapter, as spoonieness allows.
In choosing which of the tasks at the end of the chapter to do, Julia says to pick those that appeal the most and those that appeal the least. She says to leave the more neutral ones for later. And to remember that in choosing we often resist what we most need.
What I am calling the daily pages, Julia calls the morning pages. However because of my illness, I never know when I will be able to write. I like calling them daily pages because then there’s less pressure to get it done in the morning. It reminds me to write when it is not negatively impacting my health. The daily pages are free write, or you could also call it a brain drain or verbal vomit. It is just getting things down on paper. Practicing the art of flow. Julia says to be clear that it is not “real writing” and not to get hung up with the internal censor. Part of the purpose of the daily pages is to practice writing while ignoring the internal censor.
The book calls for daily writing three pages which she said should take about 30 minutes. However, for myself my goal is to write one page a day.
Julia says that the daily pages are about getting stuff out and the artist date is about putting things in. An artists date is basically a personal playdate done with me and my inner artist. No one else tags along, no friends, kids, spouses, etcetera! It is about giving your inner artist time and attention. It’s not about doing culturally edifying things that we “should” appreciate. It’s about having fun.
The examples that Julia gave were a long Country Walk, church gospel music, or even bowling! Some spoonie friendly ideas that I thought of so far are getting Google glasses that you can view virtual museums with, listening to music in a dark room, getting library books on visual topics that I like, or watching a Bollywood film.
Julia said that we are likely to find ourselves avoiding the artists date. She said we should recognize this resistance as a fear of intimacy – self intimacy. She said that to have a real relationship with our creativity we must take the time and care to cultivate it.
Julia has a contract in her book for people to fill out to make a commitment to this process. Here is my version of it
She also has a list of basic principles of the course and she says to read them once a day and watch for any shifts in attitude or beliefs. I’m actually pretty resistant to most of them so it will be interesting to see what happens. You can see where I scratched out and wrote in new words with the words that I find triggering.
Julia says that in this process she sees a lot of defiance and giddiness at first, followed by anger, grief and alternating waves of resistance and hope. She said this choppy growth phase is followed by a strong urge to abandon the process and return to life as we know it. She calls this the creative u-turn. This is where I have always stopped in the past. She says that after this in the final phase of the course there is a new sense of self marked by increased autonomy, resilience, expectancy, and excitement and much more actually producing creative works. This is where I hope to get to.
I also hope that by posting each week that it will help me through this process to not give up! The spoonie community on Twitter is so supportive in so many ways. I know that the support that we can give each other as spoonie artists using #spoonieway will help each other with this process!
To participate, use #spoonieway on Twitter and join our private messaging group on Twitter by sending me a request @IngredientsWeCh