I’ve recently begun The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Many fellow songwriters have recommended this book to me in the past but it never felt like the right time. With fresh autumn air now circling, and with sunny summer days winding down, I feel the time is ripe and I’m settling into it.
I’m only on Week (Chapter) 1 but I have to tell you, so far the book feels like a warm hug. Julia Cameron is a gentle coach, coaxing me to look at my fears, my beliefs, my doubts – essentially anything that might be obstructing my path as an artist. Every morning I’ve been stunned at the brutal and uncensored “blurts” that come up to tear apart my positive affirmations. But transforming the blurts has been empowering. Here’s an example:
I am a talented songwriter and I deserve to make a fantastic living with my music.
Yeah right. You know you’ll never do it. You’re not that talented. And even if you were, no one pays for music anymore.
I am strong, talented and resourceful. People love and respect my music and are happy to pay for it. I have all I need within me to create a successful, fulfilling career and the universe is behind me all the way.
Sometimes I feel like a fraud because the blurt seems more true than the positive affirmation. But the more I repeat the good stuff the easier it gets to start to believe it. Take that, Blurt!!
The Artist Date has also been interesting this week. The challenge was to book off time to spend with your inner artist-child, the part of you that loves to play and create. You’re not allowed to do anything serious or monotonous. You’re only allowed to play, enjoy, have fun and play some more.
Well, I struggled and struggled trying to think of what I could do to just play. Forget songwriting – my inner-critic has been centre stage too often recently while finalizing the songs on my upcoming album that I couldn’t even imagine writing a song without her popping up furiously. Forget baking – didn’t feel like grocery shopping. Wasn’t into finger painting. No poems, no photography, no stick-men drawing. No doodles, no bopping, no dancing, no rapping, no sculpting, no drumming.
Nothing was compelling me toward a creative, fun event. I didn’t feel like going to a play, to hear live music, to a museum, to the movies or to stand up comedy. I shuddered realizing that I may have forgotten how to have creative fun. What was going on? I love the arts! Someone please throw me a life jacket.
I decided to tell myself that it doesn’t matter if I’m creative – I just need to do something I enjoy and see what happens. I’ve been so busy lately and craving sacred alone time. That’s really the only thing I really wanted. To just breathe and be. Solo. No internet. No phone. No knock on the door. Then the idea of playing The Transformation Game surfaced and I smiled. There it was. My Pre-Artist Date.
So I turned off the phone and started to play. It’s an amazing game (seriously, check it out if you are at all intrigued) and although it’s not really a 1-person game, I played alone anyway. During the game you can pick a focus to explore, and ultimately “transform”. I picked “How Can I Help My Inner Artist-Child?”
During the game you explore your focus on every level of your being: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. In a nutshell, I was told in a gentle, loving way that I need to be more compassionate with myself. The warm hug resurfaced, but this time from me to me.
Perhaps creativity is always there but if we haven’t been taking care of ourselves, it’s not easily accessed. Maybe we just need to feed the well, feed the core of our being, and then the creativity will naturally overflow. We need to receive in order to give. Nurturing ourselves, in whatever way we can, is a magical ingredient to allow the playful part of ourselves to emerge.
So now I’m going to go have a nap, listen to a guided meditation and hug the little inner-child within me that likes to be listened to and cared for. And you never know, she may just feel like writing a poem later.