I’m embracing failure after a too long hiatus, and now it’s time for Week Seven, Part One of The Artist’s Way challenge! This week our aim is “Recovering a Sense of Connection.” I feel like we could all use a bit of connection in one way or another right now, though this chapter is more about encouraging connection to our creativity than to each other. Cameron writes,
“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.”
There are Six sections in this chapter, plus a variety of exercises to work through at the end.
Consider how radio waves work. Waves are broadcast all around us, each with different frequencies. Our job is to learn to tune into the ones we desire. So instead of trying so hard to think up our next idea, maybe it’s time to listen to what’s around us. If we listen in the moment, we allow our brush to take the next stroke.
“For the perfectionist, there are no first drafts, rough sketches, warm-up exercises. Every draft is meant to be final, perfect, set in stone.”
We all deal with perfectionism from time to time. Many of us, myself included, have allowed perfectionism to derail an entire career for years or decades. Instead of enjoying the process, we constantly evaluate our work, rewriting the first line repeatedly or never getting past the first couple of chapters. Our logical brain takes over and convinces us to check our grammar or obsesses over a plot point we can’t seem to work out.
At some point, we must learn to let go. We must believe in our ideas and run with them without stopping to correct our mistakes. Embracing failure is encouraged when it allows you to move forward.
“The success of creative recovery hinges on our ability to move out of the head and into action.”
But taking risks is scary. Some of us prefer to play it safe and lead a life of certainty, one where we know what’s next and our success is all but assured. There’s nothing wrong with living a safe life if you’re truly satisfied with the status quo. Issues come when you’re settling for safety because you’re too scared to move past your fear. Here’s a great Medium article about the need for risk if you want more in life: The Fear of Taking Risks Never Goes Away.
Do you compare your shitty first drafts to the polished, finished products of the greats? Cameron writes:
“Usually when we say we can’t do something, what we mean is that we won’t do something unless we can guarantee that we’ll do it perfectly.”
We must be willing to fail. Embracing failure means we not only allow ourselves mistakes, but we learn from them. Sometimes failing sounds so final, but it’s really a great opportunity. When we fail, we find ways in which something didn’t work, and often that’s more valuable than assured success. It’s empowering to push past our limits, especially when we find a brilliant, new side of ourselves.
Jealousy is a common human emotion. One way jealousy rears its ugly head is when we become envious of those who have been brave enough to move beyond their fears. For instance, if you want to write a book, you may find yourself envious of another writer having sold their debut novel. Per Cameron,
“Jealousy is a map.”
Much like embracing failure, we can use our jealousy to help us understand what we want or where we lack skill, and then we can take necessary action. There’s room for all of us to succeed, so try to allow others’ success to empower you. Besides, life is better for everyone when we help each other out.
The Jealousy Map, An Exercise
In this section, Cameron asks us to create a jealousy map with three columns:
Who are you jealous of?
An action you can take to overcome your jealousy.
One of mine:
Who: Sam Maggs
Why: She’s a prolific writer and has tons of confidence in her field
Action: Stop making excuses
Archeology, An Exercise
Finally, Cameron asks us to complete two sets of fill-in-the-blank phrases about ourselves. Here are a few of them:
As a kid, I lacked______. My answer: someone to help guide me
As a kid, I dreamed of being______. My answer: a writer
I am sorry that I will never again see______. My answer: Pantera in concert
One thing I like about my town is______. My Answer: It’s close to a little bit of everything and it’s a great beer community.
I am taking a greater interest in______. My Answer: Inventing the life that I want.
Possibly, my creativity is______. My Answer: Able to grow.
Week Seven, part two will be up shortly! Until then, you can follow along with my previous Artist’s Way posts below: