If You Are Sometimes Blocked As An Artist, This Book’s for You
A main goal of this book is for the reader to get in touch with his/her authentic, creative self. There are two basic things that will enable this. First, the reader is to write three “morning pages” every single day. These journal-type pages are intended to be a dumping ground for all our problems. The premise is that if we get rid of all that junk in our heads, new, creative ideas will flow in to replace it. Secondly, the reader is to go on an “artist date” every week in an attempt to foster self-care.
The book has twelve chapters. Each chapter has info from the author, quotes from famous folks to enhance the subject matter, and activities to further explore the topic at hand. It is suggested that the reader do one chapter per week. In this way, there is time to do all the activities, plus the reader is getting another week’s worth of practice at morning pages (MPs) and artist dates (ADs). After twelve weeks of MPs and ADs, the author hopes these activities are new habits for the reader.
By the way, the author tells you that you don’t need to believe in God to do her brand of spiritual work. She says you can think of GOD as an acronym for Good Orderly Direction (or flow) instead. However, after working with this book for a full three months, I believe it is most helpful for those who believe in God.
My copy of this book is now heavily highlighted with meaningful quotes. Here is one thing I loved per chapter/week:
Week 1 – The author gives 20 creative affirmations that I returned to time and again. If I stalled out in writing my MPs, I often copied the affirmations into my notebook. My favorite is #17. I like it because I felt that I channeled my first book, that it was actually written by God. I have three more books in print but they did not feel that way to me. I’d love to get back whatever I had with book one, hence this affirmation spoke to me: “I am willing to let God create through me.”
Week 2 – She gives ten “rules of the road” and I love this message to God: “Great Creator, I will take care of the quantity. You take care of the quality.”
Week 3 – “If you ask an artist how he got where he is, he will…talk of a series of lucky breaks. ‘A thousand unseen helping hands’ Joseph Campbell called these breaks. I call them synchronicity. It is my contention that you can count on them…The universe is prodigal in its support. We are miserly in what we accept.”
Week 4 – “The morning pages symbolize our willingness to speak to and hear God.” This quote helps me think of the MPs as my daily briefing with God. (Trust me, sometimes I tell Him in detail all that He is doing wrong!)
Week 5 – “Experiment with this two-step process: ask for answers in the evening; listen for answers in the morning. Be open to all help.”
Week 6 – Regarding ADs, the author tells us, “Creativity lives in paradox: serious art is born from serious play.”
Week 7 – “Art is not about thinking something up. It is about the opposite – getting something down. The directions are important here. If we are trying to think something up, we are straining to reach for something that’s just beyond our grasp…When we get something down, there is no strain. We’re not doing; we’re getting.”
Week 8 – “A creative life is grounded on many, many small steps and very, very few large leaps…Large changes occur in tiny increments.”
Week 9 – “Over any extended period of time, being an artist requires enthusiasm more than discipline…Enthusiasm (from the Greek, ‘filled with God’) is an on-going energy supply tapped into the flow of life itself.”
Week 10 – The focus of this section of the book is on workaholism, something with which I clearly identify. There is a Workaholism Quiz, a game of 20 questions, in which I proved myself to be a workaholic supreme. And this quote surely expressed my difficulties at the ten-week mark of doing MPs and ADs: “In creative recovery, it is far easier to get people to do the extra work of the morning pages than it is to get them to do the assigned play of an artist date. Play can make a workaholic very nervous. Fun is scary.”
Week 11 – “If you are happier writing than not writing, painting than not painting, singing than not singing, acting than not acting, directing than not directing, for God’s sake (and I mean that literally) let yourself do it…The creator made us creative. Our creativity is our gift from God. Our use of it is our gift to God.”
Week 12 – “Many hobbies involve a form of artist-brain mulling that leads to enormous creative breakthroughs. When I have screenwriting students stuck at the midpoint of act two, I ask them to please go do their household mending. They usually balk, offended by such a mundane task, but sewing has a nice way of mending up plots.”
One final thought – Ever the good student, I read this book as the author instructed, over a 12-week period. When those weeks came to an end, I thought of going to the bookstore and buying another book by this author, but the reality is, The Artist’s Way has so much to teach, that if behooves me to open up to page one and start reading it all over again.