It’s time to shed our old emotional wounds and embrace our creative desires in Week Eight 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 artistic loss, and how we often let old creative wounds disrupt our confidence and flow.
To recap, week Eight of The Artist’s Way course was, “Recovering a Sense of Strength.” Cameron wrote,
“This week tackles another major creative block: time. You will explore the ways in which you have used your perception of time to preclude taking creative risks. You will identify immediate and practical changes you can make to your current life. You will excavate the early conditioning that may have encouraged you to settle for far less than you desire creatively.”
I had been doing well with my morning pages during my recent hiatus until November 26th, when I missed five days in a row. What an unprecedented failure! I’m not sure what made me forgot them for five full days, but I swear I wasn’t trying to avoid them. I completed them today as soon as I realized it, though, and I’ll just have to be more vigilant.
The pages have really been my favorite part of this process. I’ll definitely continue writing them long after this challenge is through.
My Artist Date
For my last artist’s date, I finally completed something I’ve been “meaning” to do for months. Earlier in the year, I sorted through all my clothing, sending a fair amount to Goodwill, but I failed to finish the job. By the time I got down to my rack of dresses (yes, an entire rack), I was tired of trying everything on and abandoned the project.
Wednesday, I awoke with renewed energy and was productive all day. I considered cleaning the house because I love coming back to a tidy home after I go on vacation, but I decided it would be more important to check off one task from my list for good. Besides, I vacuumed Tuesday, so I at least had that to come back to.
It ended up being fun realizing how well some of my dresses are fitting me right now and how long I might need to go on a couple of others. Plus, I ended up parting with ten, which is huge! I want more days like that.
Task One: Name Your Dream
In task one, Cameron asks us to name our dream. There are actually six parts to this task:
- “In a perfect world, I would secretly love to be a______.”
- This one is self-explanatory. For me, it’s becoming a commercially successful author, but I’m not sure this creative desire has ever really been a secret.
- “Name one concrete goal that signals to you its accomplishment.”
- You may share the same goal as someone else, but what outcome would make you feel as though you’ve achieved success? Cameron calls this the “True North” on your emotional compass. For me, this would mean being traditionally published and getting paid top dollar for my work.
- “In a perfect world, where would you like to be in five years in relation to your dream and true north?”
- In five years, I want to have published at least one novel to acclaim. How about you?
- “In the world we inhabit now, what action can you take, this year, to move you closer?”
- I’ve been reading a lot of material lately, like writing reference books and short stories, so even when I’m not writing, I’m still learning ways to go about it. I’m also trying to analyze as I read, instead of merely reading for pleasure.
- “What action can you take this month? This week? This day? Right now?”
- I’ll never know everything about writing, as none of us can. But each time I expose myself to a new writer or concept, I increase my overall understanding and perspective. I’m still struggling with building a consistent writing practice, even with all the time off I’ve had this year. I can offer a myriad of excuses why, but that’s all they would be.
- But it’s just as important to discover what doesn’t work, and I’ve done a lot of that. The best thing I can do now, however, is stop allowing myself these excuses, most of which arise from my fear. I need to focus on my “Why,” and move forward, even if I must remind myself of this daily until it gets through to my thick skull.
- “List your dream. List its true north. Select a role model. Make an action plan. Five years. Three years. One year. One month. One week. Now. Choose an action.”
- This one is a culmination of 1-5. I read about something similar in a book called Build Your Best Writing Life by Kristin Kieffer. She referred to this as a writer’s “Road Map.” I need to spend more time building my road map. So far, I’ve talked a lot about how much I want to write for a living, but I’ve yet to set any clear and specific goals. I think doing so would go a long way in helping me create a consistent writing practice. I just need to work through my fear of failure.
Task Two: New Childhood
In task two, Cameron asks,
“What might you have been if you’d had perfect nurturing? Write a page about this fantasy childhood. What were you given? Can you reparent yourself in that direction now?”
I think about this sometimes, but ultimately, I find such thoughts and activities to be ineffective. We can’t change the past, so dwelling on it doesn’t make much sense. Sometimes we can use the past to understand what led us to our present state, but there is danger in using it as an excuse. I try my best to embrace the mindset of “where am I currently and what can I do to change the things I want to change?”
Task Three: Color Schemes
In this task, Cameron asks us to pick a color and write a few sentences describing ourselves in relation to the color we’ve chosen.
I’m honestly not sure of the point of this exercise. Maybe a study of our preconceived notions about color? My favorite color is purple, which is most often associated with royalty and majesty or magic and spirituality.
Lately, I’ve surrounded myself with a lot of blue, a color associated with stability, loyalty, and calm. Blue makes me feel calm, so that makes sense.
Task Four: Five Things You’re Not Allowed to Do
In task five, Cameron asks us to list five things we’re not allowed to do, such as kill our boss or walk around naked, and then do one of those things on paper (write about it, paint it, etc.).
I did not do this one. I waited too long in between posts and it fell through the cracks.
Task Five: List Twenty Things You Like to Do
Here, Cameron asks us to list twenty things we like to do (it’s okay to use the same list as previously or list twenty new things). Next, we are to answer the following questions for each thing on the list:
- Does it cost money or is it free?
- Expensive or cheap?
- Alone or with someone?
- Job related?
- Physical risks?
- Fast-paced or slow?
- Mind, body, or spiritual?
One thing on my list was hiking, and I chose this as an example because it was the activity I took part in most this year. It was free everywhere I went, so cheap. I never did it alone, but I should have; I would’ve liked to have hiked more often. It’s not job related. There was no major physical risk on the trails I hiked because most trails are easy to moderate around here. I tried to keep a faster pace so I could consider it exercise, and I believe connecting with nature is great in all three respects (body, mind, and spiritual).
Task Six: The Ideal Day in Your Current Life
Here, Cameron asks us to plan the perfect day in our current life.
The perfect day in my current life is any day in which I feel productive, and there’s not one specific thing that makes me feel that way. I feel productive when I’ve written a blog post and completed my morning pages. I feel productive when the apartment is clean, the grocery shopping is complete, and I’ve had some physical exercise. Finally, I feel productive when I’ve saved enough time to partake in my creative desires or a mindless activity, like painting, reading, or even watching a new movie or show on Netflix.
Task Seven: The Ideal Day in Your Desired Life
Next, Cameron asks us to plan the perfect day in our lives, the way we wish it could be.
I don’t have one ideal day, as I could do several things I would deem satisfying, especially in my desired life. I know any ideal day would include writing. I’d write something I’m proud to share with other people, something they would find it helpful, or at least entertaining.
Other than writing, it would depend on my mood. I might seek to travel to Madrid, where I’d enjoy a relaxing day drinking Spanish wine and devouring tapas. Or I might stay closer to home and find a moderate hiking trail just outside the city to reconnect with nature. Maybe my creative desires would lead me to attempt a difficult or involved recipe. Heck, maybe I’d even sleep.
Task Eight: Choose One Festive Aspect From Your Ideal Day
Finally, Cameron asks us to choose any aspect from our desired life and allow ourselves to live it. Travel is kind of out at the moment, with Covid running rampant and winter coming upon us. I have been attempting new recipes throughout the pandemic, though. A couple of my recent favorites are a Mushroom Risotto dish and a Key Lime Pie I made for Thanksgiving.
Final Thoughts (Check-In)
There was a long break between Week Eight, Part One, and this Part Two post. I lost some of my writing confidence, so I needed a break. I don’t have much confidence to start with, so it’s easy to lose.
I’ll tell myself I don’t need an audience right now, that I just need to keep writing to improve my skills, but sometimes I feel like I’m writing into a void and it’s hard to convince myself it’s worth it. I’m trying to change my mindset. I don’t want to need recognition to feel confident. I want to focus on my why and encourage my creative desires, to take my ideas and run with them, no holds barred style.
I’m human, though, and it can take time to work through our emotional lack. I just need to keep reminding myself that I’m enough, and I’ll have more success the more I put my writing out into the world. If I stop writing every time I lose confidence, I’ll never be able to build my empire!
If you’d like to follow along with this process, you can find some of my previous Artist’s Way posts below:
2 thoughts on “Creative Desires: The Artist’s Way Week Eight”
This was such a wonderful post, really tickled my creativity! I know its hard to tell ourselves to keep writing when it can feel like we’re just talking into the void. I trust that the more we write the easier it gets, and this was great motivation. All the best!
Thanks so much for reading! I’ve been working on concentrating more on my reasons for wanting to write (my why) as opposed to my want for positive feedback or recognition. I think this helps. I still struggle with confidence, but I think it’s getting better.