After giving myself a buy week to focus on promoting a story I entered in a contest, I went back into The Artist’s Way with gusto. I continued the morning pages during my week “off,” and that helped maintain continuity for me.
- Week 5 Theme: “Recovering a Sense of Possibility.” This chapter forces us to examine our limiting thoughts and all the ways in which we sabotage ourselves and our art. We often want to stay within the safety of appearing good to the outside world as opposed to being our authentic selves. The ways we sabotage ourselves include never taking time alone, sacrificing creative time to meet the needs of others, scarcity thinking (i.e. if so and so gets a book deal, that’s one less chance for me), discounting possibilities and undermining success.
- Morning Pages: I did the morning pages every day except Christmas. When the kids wake you up at the crack of dawn bursting with excitement, just try asking them to wait while you write! And no, I don’t consider that an example of self-sabotage. 🙂
- Artist Date: Given that the whole family is home for to the holidays, there isn’t much solitude. However, on Monday I did have a few hours to myself. I used those to write, read and exercise. Normally I would have convinced myself to work, clean, cook or plan. Instead I allowed myself to do only enjoyable things. I supplemented that by waking up early on Tuesday morning to write through some of the questions and tasks from Chapter 5.
Any “Aha” Moments?
- There is a section in Chapter 5 called “The Virtue Trap” that nearly brought me to tears because I recognized so much of myself there. Solitude, it says, is mandatory for creatives. We need it as we need air to breathe. I have blogged about the importance of solitude before – here and here. When this chapter asked the question, “Are you self-destructive?” I figured I could say no because I do take time for myself to “fill the well” so to speak. But what I realize now is that the question is much more nuanced, and my answer is not simple.
- I am good about carving out blocks of time for solitude at least once or twice a year, but I must admit that I have always felt at best strange and at worst terribly selfish about asking for and taking alone time. The need to be alone doesn’t fit the world’s perception of a good person. Giving to others always comes before giving to self. As such, I kept waiting for Cameron to come forward with the section about balance. That section never came. This lady does not pull any punches. She tells you like it is. If you want to produce art, you need to nurture your creativity. To nurture your creativity you need time alone. Every time you sacrifice that need on the altar of other people’s expectations, you die a little inside. Period. The End.
- I struggled with this question all week. On the one hand, I felt such relief at seeing another person admit to sharing a need that is so strong within myself. On the other hand, I still have serious questions about how to take the necessary time while still sharing myself with others. I know Cameron is not suggesting that all artists go out, be hermits and cut all ties to outside world. I think she is saying is that when we don’t meet our artistic needs, we sabotage ourselves and become more puppet-person than real person. In so doing, nobody benefits. I think she is also saying that if we stop sabotaging our true selves, we become closer to others and experience the world more fully. We might find that the world bends around our need to be alone so that it is not an either/or choice.
- THAT has always been my problem – viewing it as either/or. My aha moment was realizing that I feel divided most of the time into the “real world” person who functions as everyone expects her to and the “inside” person who rages with creative desire so potent that it tugs at me almost continuously. I don’t know how to bring these two together, so I’m hoping more answers will emerge as I continue the program. Obviously my family and friends are just as important to me as my creativity, so I do need to find a way to merge these beings, or at least get them to live in harmony with one another. For the moment, when I take time for creativity, I feel bad for my family and/or friends. When I take time for family, friends, or other activities, I feel I am neglecting my artist-writer. So I need to move from “no-win” to “all-win” situations. Somehow.
A few favorite quotes from the Week 5 chapter:
“An artist must have downtime, time to do nothing. Defending our right to such time takes courage, conviction, and resiliency… For an artist, withdrawal is necessary. Without it, the artist in us feels vexed, angry, out of sorts. If such deprivation continues, our artist becomes sullen, depressed, hostile..”
“We strive to be good, to be nice, to be helpful, to be un-selfish. We want to be generous, of service, of the world. But what we really want is to be left alone. When we can’t get others to leave us alone, we eventually abandon ourselves. To others, we may look like we’re there. We may act like we’re there. But our true self has gone to ground… Afraid to appear selfish, we lose our self.”
“Many people, caught in the virtue trap, do not appear to be self-destructive to the casual eye. Bent on being good husbands, fathers, mothers, wives, teachers, whatevers, they have constructed a false self that looks good to the world and meets with a lot of worldly approval… The true self is a disturbing character, healthy and occasionally anarchistic, who knows how to play, how to say no to others and “yes” to itself.”
Are YOU self-destructive? Do you sacrifice your creative desire in order to tend to the needs of others?