It’s time to get inspired and get ready for success…or failure in Week Nine 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 guide us in working through our creative blocks and U-turns. This week’s key topic was fear, or resistance, and remembering to give ourselves a little compassion.
When we contemplate fear, we tend to attribute it to failure, but that’s not always the case. Success can make us tremble too, as heftier expectations often follow in its path. Resistance is an equal opportunity afflicter.
To recap, week Nine of The Artist’s Way course was, “Recovering a Sense of Compassion.”
“This week finds us facing the internal blocks to creativity…We will explore and acknowledge the emotional difficulties that beset us in the past as we made creative efforts. We will undertake healing the shame of past failures. We will gain in compassion as we reparent the frightened artist child who yearns for creative accomplishment.”
During my long hiatus, I kept up with my morning pages like a champ, but last week I missed writing them for five full days! I truly forgot too. I wasn’t just avoiding them, consciously at least. I suppose I can chock it up to the craziness of the holidays to some degree, but it’s still disappointing since I had only missed two other days total since March 23rd! But as usual, all I can do is move forward. Blast you resistance!
My Artist Date
For my Artist Date this week, I finally closed out the balcony garden after a somewhat extended year. We had a few stretches of warmer days there for a while, so I tried to allow the peppers I had left to mature, and I ended up with a few medium-sized ones. The cherry tomatoes produced up the wazoo for the last two months of the year, so I ended up with two full bowls of those.
After harvesting, I cut up the remaining leaves and stems, dumped the dirt, and then swept the balcony to a squeaky clean. It looks like one I can relax on now. I just need a cute bistro table.
I made an awesome poblano cream sauce with some of the peppers but had to tame it down by mixing in some ricotta cheese. Apparently, I accidentally threw a couple of my hot ass jalapenos in the mix. I’m a huge fan of spicy food, but my jalapenos were like habaneros this year, so a little bit went a long way!
For the tomatoes, I used a good portion to make a frittata and I’ve been using the rest as a topping for certain dishes, like the poblano enchiladas and salads. I love producing my own veggies. I can’t wait until I have a bigger space for it someday.
Task One: Read Your Morning Pages
In task one, Cameron asks us to read our morning pages and notice any consistent complaints or behaviors. This doesn’t have to be completely negative, of course. Maybe by sticking to your morning pages has allowed you to overcome some undesirable habits or traits.
Most of my complaints this year, at least since July, have been health related. During the year of COVID, I developed adult asthma, and I’ve yet to find the source of it. It has caused much concern and lamentation, and led to additional social distancing, which I was doing much of already. I more or less ruled out COVID as the cause, as I tested negative during the worst of my symptoms and later, with an antibody test.
I’m not going to lie; I was actually disappointed to discover it likely wasn’t COVID that caused these issues. More than anything, it meant I didn’t have a clear answer to this random development. I have an appointment with an allergist next month, so hopefully I’ll be able to find some answers on that front. I’ve never had any major allergies, but I know our bodies can change.
Prior to the pandemic, I felt as though I needed a life reset, and this year has given me that. I’m glad I was prepared for it financially too. Other than my health, I’ve tried my best to better myself with the additional free time I’ve had. I’m not quite where I’d like to be, and I vacillate between hope and defeat, but I’m no longer stuck in a place I don’t want to be so that’s something.
Task Two: Visualizing Your Ideal Goal
Here, Cameron asks us to visualize our ideal goal again.
I’m still experiencing a lot of resistance in relation to my goals. My health issues haven’t helped. I was previously 100% healthy, so dealing with a longer-term condition has not aided in my productivity this year. I’ve found it extremely difficult to focus on anything, let alone my writing. I certainly have a new appreciation for people dealing with chronic health issues who can push through it and remain consistently productive.
That said, I’ve spent time visualizing my ideal goal of becoming a bestselling novelist, and I’ve also spent time considering what I need to do to get myself there. Consistency is obviously huge. I need to learn to push through those difficult moments, maybe even use them as fuel in some way. There will never be a perfect moment for me to start or continue on my path, so the only way to get there is through daily practice and a growing passion for the process. I’m tired of allowing myself to get sidetracked.
Task Three: Creative Priorities
I’m planning on writing the typical resolutions post, though I’m not going to call it my New Year’s resolutions. I don’t really need resolutions as much as I need a revolution.
The only way to achieve long-term change is to develop and maintain consistent, daily habits. It’s best to develop and maintain these habits by creating them through baby or micro-steps, and that’s my plan. Resistance is much harder to overcome if you try to change things overnight.
I have a lot of creative goals for the coming year, including developing a consistent writing practice. The end of the year is a great time to review what has and hasn’t been working for me, and what I need to adjust moving forward.
Task Four: Creative U-Turns
Fear (resistance) still has its grasp on me. Cameron uses this example in the section on creative U-turns,
“A performance artist is offered a space to use for work-shopping his new material. He does it once, doesn’t like his mixed reception indicating more work is needed, then stops working on new material at all.”
She may as well have been talking about me. I’m constantly letting reception, more like a lack of as opposed to mixed or bad reviews, derail my efforts. Maybe this is the universe’s way of trying to encourage me to develop consistency. Even if my work goes viral, I’m still going to have to write the next thing. I can’t live on one piece, no matter how positive or negative it’s received. That’s why focusing on the process is so much more important than the end result.
Final Thoughts (Check-In)
We want to believe that once we attain our goals, everything will be sunshine and roses from then on out, but that’s not always the case. Experiencing success or failure isn’t always as straightforward as we’d like it to be. It can be downright complicated.
Success feels fabulous! But with it comes increased pressure to perform and produce. That’s great for people who thrive on challenge, but for a budding artist, it can be anxiety inducing and stop them in their tracks. Resistance erupts in many forms.
This is where compassion comes into play. We need to be kind to ourselves. We must find ways to relish in the process. When we face moments of self-doubt, finding joy in the process or journey can help us come out the other side with our creative hearts intact.
Where can you offer yourself more compassion, especially after this wacky year we’ve experienced? If you’d like to follow along with The Artist’s Way Challenge, you can find some of my previous posts below:
- Week 7, Part 1
- Week 7, Part 2
- Week 8, Part 1
- Week 8, Part 2
- Or go all the way back to Week 1, Part 1!