It’s time to make a connection in Week Seven Part Two of The Artist’s Way Challenge!
In part two of each week, I’m sharing the creative exercises from The Artist’s Way and some of my experiences with the process. Activities like these encourage self-discovery and help us understand our heart’s desires. This week’s key topic was creative connection. Cameron emphasized developing our ability to hone active and receptive skills, like learning to take risks and listening to what inspires us.
To recap, week Seven of The Artist’s Way course was, “Recovering a Sense of Connection.” Cameron wrote,
“We turn this week to the practice of right attitudes for creativity. The emphasis is on your receptive as well as active skills. The essays, exercises, and tasks aim at excavating areas of genuine creative interest as you connect with your personal dreams.”
I posted nothing for three weeks because I was on the struggle bus. I had no connection. I’m trying to climb out of my confidence crisis by telling myself I’m writing for me right now, but sometimes it’s hard to get past your mental goblins.
I missed a day of writing my morning pages, September 29th. On another day in this early October, I got distracted and forgot to finish my pages.
But as I’ve said before, all we can do is move forward and be better.
My Artist Date
For my artist dates during this time, I’ve been taking a lot of pictures of clouds and food. I’ve become quite the amateur nephologist. I’ve been doing a lot of cooking too, and I finally went to TJ Maxx and Home Goods for the first time since the initial quarantine. I used to like to go there periodically to check out their kitchenware and general home knick-knacks. Here are some of my favorite pictures from during this time.
The other tasks this week are tough to write about as they were more about taking specific small actions than the typical self-reflection style task, but I’ll do my best.
Task One: Mantra Phrase
“Treating myself like a precious object will make me strong.”
Task one asks us to make this phrase into a mantra and post it where you will see it daily.
I somewhat agree with the statement, but the word, “precious” puts me off a bit. I want to treat myself like a badass woman! I’ll have to become one eventually, but I’m a work in progress and I’m okay with that for now.
Task Two: Listen to Half an Album
I’m constantly listening to music. It makes me happy and reflective and takes me back to times long ago when I felt things more dramatically, but life was still simpler somehow.
In task two, Cameron asks us to listen to one side of an album. I don’t have my turntable hooked up, so all my music is on playlists right now. I perform this task quite often, but I’m constantly returning to the same artists or playlists, and I need to branch out.
I’m going to make that a task for myself this week. Find one or more new artists or albums to explore.
Task Three: Savor Solitude in a Sacred Space
In task three, Cameron encourages us to spend some time in a sacred space, like a library, church, or somewhere in nature.
I spend time in nature each day (on my walks), but there are often too many cars whizzing by, and it gets frustrating. That’s why I usually escape into an audiobook. I’m headed to Hocking Hills this week, though, so I’m looking forward to hiking and fishing up there amongst some beautiful Fall scenery. I need to renew my connection to nature.
Task Four: Create a Wonderful Smell in Your House
Aromas are intoxicating. They can activate emotional response and conjure up long-lost memories. I’ve been cooking a lot lately because it’s like therapy for me. I love attempting new recipes and coming up with new creations.
In this task, Cameron asks us to create a wonderful smell in our house. I had some shrimp in the freezer I needed to use, so I made two delicious meals out of it last week. Here are the pics, so you know it happened.
Task Five: Wear Something Nice for No Reason
In task five, Cameron asks us to wear our favorite item of clothing for no specific reason. I admit, I didn’t do this one. I’d planned on getting all decked out in my Dirndl for Oktoberfest, but it never happened. I made some fabulous jalapeno sauerkraut balls, though.
Instead, I finally fulfilled task two from week six, “pick five flowers or leaves.” I even made a fun color changing palette from it.
Task Six: Buy Something Comfortable or Self-Loving
“Buy yourself one wonderful pair of socks, one wonderful pair of gloves-one wonderfully comforting, self-loving something.”
So I didn’t buy socks or gloves as suggested, but I bought this amazingly adorable cheese grater. I will use it to grate delectable cheeses because giving one’s self cheese is self-love.
Task Seven: Create a Collage
In task seven, Cameron asks us to create a college out of pictures from magazines.
I didn’t perform this task as laid out, but I have been working on my bar collage again. I went to my storage last week to search for some old mementos to add to it, and I didn’t find as much as I would’ve liked, but I found a lot of old concert tickets and some pictures I might add. It will be fun to begin work on it again.
Task Eight: Five Favorite Films
“Quickly list five favorite films. Do you see any common denominators among them?”
Highlander, Pride and Prejudice, Keith, The Fifth Element, and French Kiss.
I watch a good mix of movies. I love a campy horror film. Mindless action flicks are terrific when you don’t like drama, but you need a little adrenaline in your life. I also have a soft spot for romance, especially the sappy Hallmark Christmas movies types. My list proves this connection, and it also proves there can only be one.
Task Nine: Favorite Reading Topics
“Name your favorite topics to read about.”
When reading non-fiction, I enjoy exploring topics related to science, self-improvement, and creativity, hence my blog tagline. But really, I’ll read anything to gain knowledge. It’s important to keep learning. It keeps our brains healthy, and it’s good for our careers and personal lives.
For fiction, I relish the escape of the paranormal/supernatural, sci-fi, and historical fiction. I read widely, though. As a writer, I believe it strengthens one’s craft to read across genres.
Right now, I’m reading Phantoms from Dean Koontz.
Task Ten: Give Your Collage a Space
In the last task this week, Cameron asks us to find a “place of honor” for our collage from task seven. She also suggests doing this periodically or getting more specific with it by choosing magazine pictures that represent our dreams. This sounds like a vision board to me, which I’m on board with.
My bar collage already has a space set up for it over the cabinet in my “dining room.”
Maybe I’ll go to Half Price Books this week and price their old magazines…
Final Thoughts (Check-In)
When I first saw this week’s topic, I thought of connection in terms of interpersonal connections. I should’ve known it was actually about creative connections considering the entire point of The Artist’s Way.
The most important concept regarding creative connection is learning to enjoy the process. So many people give up on their dreams long before they’re realized because they haven’t learned to love their art for the sake of their art.
It’s difficult to put yourself out there. It hurts when you share something close to your heart but receive criticism, or worse, when you don’t even let yourself share because you’re stuck in your own obsessive loop of perfectionism.
If you’re too concerned with recognition, criticism, or comparison, however, you risk losing your creative self. I can think of so many writers and actors who gave up and “got a real job” because they never fulfilled their dream within a specific timeframe.
It’s not about time, though. It’s about loving what you do and deciding what kind of lifestyle you’re willing and able to live with. If you write or act because you love it, you’ll always have an inner drive toward working on your art. If you base that drive on when or if you’ll ever receive recognition or make enough money, you’ll eventually give up. It’s that simple.
We’ve passed the halfway point now, but if you’d like to catch-up you can find my the Week One, Part One and Week Seven, Part One posts below:
Week One, Part One: Creative Blocks
Week Seven, Part One: Embracing Failure