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Monthly Archives: March 2016

The Artist’s Way Week 9 Check In

artist's way

 

Week 9 is called “Recovering a Sense of Compassion.” Over the past few weeks I’ve gained so much from this 12 week guided course. This week put a great deal of what I’ve learned together and made me see and understand things in a different light.

This week the focus was on finding out what blocks our creativity. Internally and externally. One of the main themes through this course has been taking a more in depth look at what causes creative blocks, and at turning those blocks, and the negative feelings that cause the blocks–difficult emotions such as fear into an allie. A powerful allie.

Emotions like fear can highlight the things (those powerful emotions) that drive us in our behaviors. Behaviors such as procrastination, self-doubt. When we focus on a feeling such as fear, and we allow that fear to deter us from working–our creative pursuits–we often find that we have allowed the fear to keep us from starting, or finishing, a project. Instead of acknowledgeing that it is fear that held us back, we think it’s laziness or procrastination.

“Blocked artists are not lazy. They are blocked.”

Julia Cameron also says, “The blocked artist does not know how to begin with baby steps. Instead, the blocked artist thinks in terms of great scary impossible tasks: a novel, a feature film, a show, an opera… when these larger tasks are not accomplished, or even begun, the blocked artist calls that laziness. Do not call the inability to start laziness. Call it fear.”

SO how do we overcome the fear? By taking care of our SELF. By cultivating the ability to treat ourselves with compassion and kindness, instead of being so hard on ourselves, instead of juding ourselves so harshly.

Mrs. Cameron also talks about Enthusiasm and Play. she says, “IN order to work well, many artists find that their workspaces are best dealt with as play spaces.” And that, “art is process. The process is supposed to be fun.” I do not work well, at least not creatively, in a bland, minimalistic, environment. I need color. I need things that inspire me. Pictures. Art. Books. 4 blank white walls would never work for me.

She also talks about what she calls “Creative U-Turns.” How do we see ourselves? How do we see artists? Our notion of identity and the concept of what an artist is–it’s important. Do we link being a writer with writer’s block? Being a writer with struggle? The “starving artist” mentality. According to Mrs. Cameron, often times when progress is made we get scared and we choose to sabotage ourselves. I have done just that.

“In dealing with our creative u-turns, we must first extend ourselves some sympathy. Think of yourself as a young and skittish horse that you are bringing along. This horse is talented, but is also young, nervous, and inexperienced. It will make mistakes, be frightened by obstacles it hasn’t seen before. It may even bolt. Your job, as the creative jockey, is to keep your horse moving forward and to coax it into finishing the course.”

I am that skittish horse. I have been that and still am that “talented…nervous, and inexperienced” horse. I have made mistakes because I was frightened. Bolted. Quit. Stopped writing. Stopped creating art. I have sabotaged myself.

My new job, is to keep myself moving forward, to coax myself into finishing the course, and to extend myself sympathy, compassion, and kindness. To practice self-care.

 

 

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Writer Wednesday | Preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo

Camp nano 2016Slowly but surely I am getting things in my life organized, part of that includes my new writer bullet journal and preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo. I’m using tarot and the hero/heroine’s journey to loosely outline my novel–the same one I started back in November for NaNoWriMo. Since November I’ve changed the first 3-4 chapters completely–I wasn’t starting at the right place. Since November, I’ve been using the 12 week self-guided course from Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” to help me with my creativity and living a creative life. And, since November I’ve become much more organized.

My First 2 Bullet Journals

My First 2 Bullet Journals

Part of how I’ve become more organized was to stop trying to use pre-made planners, they just don’t work for me, and to instead roll with a system that seems as if it were made for people who are To-Do List’ers–the bullet journal system. I started bullet journaling, and then realized that for me personally, I needed something more along the lines of an omni-journal (so I could throw in my sketch-your-day/illustrate-your-life/Hobonichi style journaling in there), but I needed something separate for my writing. I have a writer’s bible, I use it to put all of my writing stuff in: an insert for the actual novel, which I use when I handwrite my novel, and an insert for what I call my writer journal, where I talk about how my writing went, how much I wrote, what I thought about it, any shiny new ideas…

Planning a novel has been quite a bit of a journey for me–a few years worth of trying to find what works for me. I’ve tried various things (Save the Cat, the Marshall Plan, the Snowflake Method, Janice Hardy’s method for Plotting your Novel, etc) and what has worked the best for me is using Tarot cards and the Hero’s Journey, which I learned from taking Arwen Lynch’s eCourse. I have a playlist on YT where I went through the course:

I had a ton of fun. And am continuing to use it so I can revamp the novel I wrote in November, except now I have a Leuchtturm 1917 Master Notebook to use as my “Writing/Writer” Bullet Journal. I needed more space than the A5 allowed for my planning. And since the journal isn’t leaving my home, except on rare occasion, I knew I’d be fine with the large size of the Master Leuchtturm. (And it is a whopper: over 200 pages of what looks like vanilla colored paper that is perfect for writing (not so much for art journaling though) and it has an Index–a win in my book.)

Now I just need to finish my storyboard, which means making copies of the tarot cards that I pulled for my outline and putting them on the storyboard; cleaning my desk off, and finishing the last bit of my outline. 😀

So here are some pictures of what I’m working on in my bullet journal for writing:

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Preparing for April’s Camp NaNoWriMo

Can you believe that it’s almost the middle of March? I can’t, yet at the same time I can believe how quickly 2016 is passing–at least the spring fever and Camp Nanowrimo fever has taken over. I wanted to finish my outline. I wanted to make it better. I wanted to be this outlining queen so that I could finish my novel. Finally finish my novel.

And yet, after a conversation with my daughter about writing I realized something important–I am not a pantser or a plotter. I’m not a gardener or an architect. I’m what people often call an astronaut (though I’m not quite sure of why exactly, or a plotster, or a loose outliner. Does it matter whether or not I pants or plot my novel? To some it seems to, and yet it’s my novel to write and I should be writing it in the best way that I am able to, in a way that brings out the best of my talent.

As much as I would love to have an elaborate, finely detailed outline so that I didn’t have to second guess myself while I’m writing, the best way for me to write is to just write.

I’ve also given a great deal of thought to what I want to do with my website/this blog. And how serious I want to get with it. It’s past time I took it more seriously. I’m committed to writing. To journaling and my art. To “branding” myself in a positive way. To bettering the quality of my videos on YT. The only things (social media) I’m not real serious about are Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr. Perhaps when I get a better smart phone I’ll do more stuff with Instagram. Or when I figure out some kind of app for my desktop that works well in allowing me to put pictures from my actual camera into IG. I don’t want to spend anymore time than I already do on social media, and in order to do that stuff, or at least seriously, I’d have less time to do all the stuff I already do (and I don’t always have enough time now).

Tomorrow (well today now since it’s after midnight) I’ll be working on my novel and my art journal pages (my omni-journal), as well as my morning pages (first thing), and I’ll be working on some purging of clothes and shoes. Not to mention cleaning and cooking, going to the DMV for my son’s car, and going to look at a truck with Mr. Rockstar. And then I’ll be picking up my grandson from daycare, then my son from work, and then going home to finish putting dinner together….and that’s not including the dishes, spending time with my grandson, giving him a bath…Is there really enough time to be Tweeting, to be posting pics on IG, to be putting stuff on Tumblr? I don’t think so, at least not for me.

 

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The Halfway Mark/The Artist’s Way

I just passed the halfway mark of the self-guided course from Julia Cameron’s book “The Artist’s Way.” When I first opened the book I thought it was sort of  hinky. In that I-can’t-believe-it’s-a,and I’m-reading,-yet-another-self-help-book way. But after reading the introduction…and definitely by the time I was midway through the first week/chapter, I knew it wasn’t just a self-help book. It’s a guide to openmindedness. It’s door towards finding out how to delve into your deeper ideas of what you really think about creativity, especially your creativity. It’s also an ongoing exercise into being honest and open with yourself about yourself.

I could go on about what it is, but the simple truth is: It has helped me realize that:

  1. I feel guilty when I write, create art, take time away from my other obligations like the house, my husband, my family (children, grandson, parents, in-laws, etc.), my friends because I am writing…
  2. I feel selfish for taking that time for myself to write, create art, etc.
  3. I feel guilty when I don’t write.
  4. I feel more anxious, depressed, and stressed out when I don’t create art, art journal, etc.
  5. I have perfectionism syndrome, which is the root cause of my fear, procrastination, anxiety, stress, and depression, especially in regard to writing, art, etc–Creativity.

There’s more, but I’ll go into the more at a later date.

From now on, I’ll be posting my check-in’s on the blog, as well as on YT. I think it’s important that when I’ve finished the course I do a proper review of the book.

 

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My path towards creative freedom

For the past six weeks I’ve been using the Artist’s Way’s 12 week self-guided course to finding my way back towards creativity. As a creative person, I have often found myself in creative slumps–writer’s block, artistic blocks, and/or just feeling blocked creatively in general. Some people call it procrastination, other’s attribute it to self-doubt, fear…Whatever you call it, I believe it all stems from the same place. A rose by any other name is still rose kind of thing.

For the past month I’ve been sick. It started with the whole sinus thing, then it was more like the flu, then full blown flu, then back to the sinus thing, and in between I ended up with a stomach bug. Perhaps it was the flu, but I think part of it was allergies, and I think another part of it was my body’s way of telling me to slow down and take better care of myself. To stop staying up so late and not getting enough sleep. To stop spreading myself so thin. To stop and take a look around me, to take in my surroundings. To stop and appreciate things. To take a look at what I was doing and re-evaluate how I was doing them.

After the period of forced rest because I was sick, which made me slow down and actually evaluate things, I realized I needed to organize the whole of my life. Not just my writing (my novel), or my desk, or my writing room, or my kitchen, or my bullet journal, but what I was doing, how I was doing it, and why. Truth is, I’m a creative clutter kind of person so the only things that are actually organized in my house are the things I don’t use that much: the dining room, for example, only the clutter had quickly spread to the dining room because I was sick and couldn’t clean and straighten up the way I normally do. I looked around my home, especially the places where I tend to linger, and low and behold I saw the wake of clutter I’d left behind.

The discarded coats hung on the backs of chairs, the pile of “art stuff” near where I sit on the couch, the stack of books on the (click)clack couch in my writing room, the mountain of clean laundry in the chair and in the basket in my living room that I haven’t felt like folding but I DID do the laundry…See where I’m going with this?

It was no wonder I felt blocked creatively. No amount of bullet journalling, planning, or even cleaning was going to unblock my creativity if I didn’t 1. Clean up the mess, 2. Work on getting better–getting well, 3. Stop procrastinating, and 4. Be accountable for not only my life, my creativity, but the mess.

One of the tasks during week 4 or week 5 was to let go of things, to purge things from your life that you don’t use, don’t wear, don’t need, are broken or don’t fit or are stained… I have been doing that bit by bit for the past few weeks, yet I was still holding on to some things. Now it stops. Today, as I look around at the wake of having been sick for a month and can honestly evaluate the mess and clutter that have been left lying around because I am the person who does the majority of housework, I am appalled. I am getting rid of SHIT today. Today I am going to hang up every single coat, fold and put the laundry away, clean off my dining room table (so I can actually see it–and it’s a gorgeous antique so what the hell was I thinking?), clean off the (click)clack couch and put away the books…

Don’t get me wrong. I did the dishes (most of the time) when I was sick, even if it was a day later. And I cleaned the bathroom every other day to get rid of the germs (I’m picky about keeping the bathroom clean), and I tried to keep the kitchen clean. But with three people sick in the house, and me being the only one home to clean, my husband and son still went to work (though my son did stay out a few days), it was up to me to do all the cleaning.

This is pretty much today’s morning pages, brought to you by a homemade white chocolate mocha (which is my favorite from Starbucks) and finally getting some energy back after getting some much needed sleep because my body protested and I fell asleep in the recliner around 7:30 PM and didn’t wake up until right at 6 AM.

 

 

 

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