Artist's Way Book Journey · Musings · My Writing

The Artist’s Way, Week 5: Don’t Let Go of What is Precious to You!

A Terrible Confession

Dear readers,

I betrayed you by not posting when I said I would. I made it sound like I would post every week, without fail, but I failed to uphold that promise and your trust. Please accept my sincere apologies.

Since so much time has passed, I’ve had time to think about why I just couldn’t sit down and write that blog post. Here is why:

I haven’t felt inspired in my writing and so I felt like a liar to post on this blog, which is about writing. I have been reading The Artist’s Way, but I have a terrible confession to make:

I do not write my morning pages.

Yup! You read that right. I have been voluntarily skipping one of the most important regimens of the Artist’s Way workshop process. Because I have not been pouring out my thoughts every morning, my worries continue to entangle, stop me from writing, and stop me from even posting on this blog. This is what happened to me in the last two weeks (I was supposed to post about a week ago).

confessional
I confess…

Tonight I attended a traditional Indian music concert. I brought my notebook with me, just in case I got ideas for finishing the outline of my novel revision. Ever since my inspired post here, where I talked about the flash of inspiration that caused me to outline roughly half my book…I’ve got nothing to show. Nothing has been written of that outline since. So I brought my notebook, thinking the mellow music of the sitar, the humming of the sarod, and the fast beat of the tabla might get my gears going.

Lo and behold, it did.

I wrote this blog post while listening to that fantastic mystical medley of sound. The conclusion I came to is this:

Don’t Let Go of What is Precious to You.

I know those of you with children, especially little girls, have probably gotten very familiar with the song Let It Go from the Disney film Frozen. Well, here is a lesson to the opposite: Don’t Let Go!

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Elsa from Disney’s Frozen sings “Let It Go”

 

Don’t let go of what you want to do, or be, or see, etc. Don’t stop writing. Don’t stop that healthy new diet or exercise regime. Don’t stop getting up early when it feels good and you’ve finally got a rhythm going. Don’t stop caring about something that may be so difficult or so painful, but when you decide to care, you are amply rewarded. Even though what you want to achieve may seem far and the process to obtain it may be challenging, keep going.

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They say that that which is precious, which is most rare, is most difficult to obtain. Writing is one of the hardest anyone can do, I think, and this is why so many people quit before they’ve even started. So many people are surprised when they hear you are a writer. Half of them, I think, are shocked that you are surviving, and the other half is scoffing and waiting with bated breath for you to fail.

Half of the time, that little voice of contempt that thinks you will fail, is your own self. It is the monster in you that Julia Cameron mentions in her books. It is the Inner Editor. It is the voice of so-called “reason” that stomps on your dreams.

Go out there and make it happen. Dance, write, take classes, whatever it is! Don’t let it go.

And if you DO stop, if you lose your momentum…start up again. Don’t let you stop you. Form or join a support group, if that’s what you feel may help. We all have our bad days. Just don’t let one bad day become “the day I stopped _____.” Let it be just a bad day, nothing more.

gollum-turkish-president
Don’t let go of the Precious!

This may all sound like a bunch of junk. But look at the other side of it. Right now you are maybe living in an existence in which you have most likely already let it go. You are living in an existence that is easy, or lazy. I know that I certainly am.

There are reasons we continue to let go of what is important to us. Staying away from those things is easier and requires less of us, or does not disturb our loved ones, or our schedules, or our Facebook time. But just try to grab hold of it again, please. Give it one day. Then, give it another.

You will feel the difference. I promise this, because I have experienced it. When I write for days after maybe a month of not writing, it feels so good. I’ve had success with this in other areas of life, too – spiritual, health, finance, etc. Try to create a habit of what you don’t want to let go of. I am telling this to myself, even more than I am telling it to you.

What do you not want to let go of? Please share in the comments.

Think of it as your chance to finally tell Elsa to shut up and stop singing! *wink*

Until next time,

Chaitanya

 

 

 

Artist's Way Book Journey · My Writing

The Artist’s Way, Week 4, Ch. 3: Realizations & Re-filling the Well

top-of-the-mountain
Thoughts From The Horizon, WordPress

This week’s Artist’s Way was an exciting eye-opener. It felt like getting closer to seeing the top of the mountain as you climb it.

For my artist’s date, I went to a ceramics studio and painted a bowl, which I am super excited to pick up this week! It was so relaxing to just sit for two hours amidst quiet fellow artists, silent, painting my bowl. I had no limits. I had no worries. Past and future melted away. It was just me, my paints, and my bowl.

It was SO relaxing! I felt so de-stressed after. I also felt my creativity was invigorated. It helped the rest of my week whiz by. Perhaps due to that lovely, long, respectful artist’s date, I got flashes of inspiration this weekend and started outlining my entire novel, so that I can more easily revise it.

I think there’s something getting through to me, even though I’ve missed so many morning pages in this read-through of Artist’s Way:

RESPECT. (Really tempted to spell that out and attach a YouTube video of the song here, but I won’t…hehe).

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I am starting to respect my writing time again. Because of that, I’m starting to respect myself more. I love myself more when I feel inspired to write. I love writing. It really is a part of me.

This week’s artist’s date felt the most respectful and calming of all the ones I’ve done so far. It was very private (even though I was in a room with others, it was quiet), and I was really able to let the rest of the world sink away. The lack of stress and noise really helped me dive into that creative mood, to just sink into my piece, my bowl.

Sinking into my work is my favorite part of writing. Don’t you just love it when you sit down and the words flow easily, the scene makes itself clear, the characters who who they really are? It’s such an amazing feeling. I would love to hear you all describe it, because I find it tough to describe, myself.

I also really enjoyed working on my outline. I’ve got about 12 chapters outlined now. It was on a day that was sunny and breezy. I had decided to read on my back patio, but brought my notebook too, just in case. Then when I was in the bathroom (yes, LOL, no one ever talks about getting your great writing ideas on the toilet – but it DOES happen!). While there I got my ideas, and when I returned outside to my patio and notebook, they  just sortof flowed out of me for a while.

Even when the flow ebbed off, I kept going, and spoke encouraging words to myself. I wrote what happened, in scenes. I’ve never really done that before. I scribbled questions to myself in bubbles. And next, I’m going to do a chart showing how the main plot and the sub-plots weave together, so I can keep outlining the other chapters (middle arc and final arc stuff).

So my friends, if you’re thinking of reading The Artist’s Way, don’t be discouraged. It’s challenging at first, but it does get better.

This week, I’ve got some crazy tasks Cameron gave at the chapter end. We have to NOT READ ANYTHING for a whole week, so that the sludge of constant stimulus and others’ ideas can leave, and we can get ideas, aka “refill the well”, Cameron says.

well
from Rocky Mount Peacemakers

I’m going to try it, not reading. I know it will be, well, insane. I WILL ask someone to glance at my email for me, so I don’t miss anything super important. But I’m happy to say goodbye to Facebook for a week, I can certainly live without Twitter. The real hard part will be not reading your WordPress blogs, my fellow writers, friends and bloggers…and, of course, the awesome newsletters by Jennie Nash and other writer coaches that I love. I’ve already taken a break from Writer Unboxed so I can focus on my story and not get too hyped in just reading articles ABOUT writing, instead of actually writing.

Well, it’s late here, so I must stop. But more tales of The Artist’s Way adventures will be here in a week!

Thanks for reading,

Chaitanya

 

 

 

Artist's Way Book Journey · My Writing

Don’t compare yourself to other writers

Every writer is different.

This week I’ve been contemplating the issues and non-issues in my work-in-progress novel and how to fix said issues. At the same time, I’ve tried to be gentle with myself and not make myself so stressed that I struggle to write at all.

In light of this difficult balance, I decided to visit my old, helpful friend: Writer Unboxed.

Reading the Artist’s Way a little bit more this week got me started on a list of things that stop me from writing. I’m going to work on each point. More on that later.

For now, I recommend thenWriter Unboxed article about one item on my obstacle list: comparing yourself to other writers. You can find it in the first sentence of this post.

Happy reading!

 

Chaitanya

 

10-Day Blog Makeover · Announcements

Fun, Fancy, & -Final- Days of Blog Makeover! – Days 7-10

This Blog Has Been Made OVER!

Well, not much to say on this, folks. A little heading/title analyzing here, some tag edits and word clipping there…and it’s done! This blog is all fresh and shiny after the 10-day makeover…TADAAAAA!!

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Art by deliainthesky at Deviant Art

How do you like it? =)

Catch-up on the WHOLE Makeover Process…

Here are the other days, in case you missed them:

Day 0 – Blog Makeover Info & Links

Day 1 – Mission Statement

Day 2 – Blog as Place

Days 3-5 – Fonts, Colors & Logo

Get Ready For…

Next: I tackle Chapter 1 of Julia Cameron’s epic, famous, help-for-all-writers-and-artists book…The Artist’s Way! Whee! Can’t wait!

See you soon,

Chaitanya

Artist's Way Book Journey

Four Tips For Inspired Writing

Okay, update, y’all. I have so many topics I want to write on for this blog, my mind is getting jumbled! Right now I’m busy doing a week-long volunteering gig that I do once a year, so there’s not been a lot of time to write. I love the volunteering, but I also really miss my writing. Especially since lately, I’ve been reading The Artist’s Way and have felt more inspired in my writing. I dived back into my WIP fantasy novel and started being able to look at it objectively, and edited a couple chapters.

I look forward to getting back into it! So, I’m having a bit of a “waaah!” baby crying moment here.

For now though, I wanted to share a little bit about having a great writing space. I’ve been in the process of moving but it has really made a difference to continually be adding and improving to it.

First, I made sure I have a decent desk with at least enough space for my computer and my papers. It’s a tiny desk, but it does the job.

Property of Genealogy in Time

(On a side note, while searching for the above image I found a website about designing your perfect writer’s desk! *squee*! No guarantee that it’s good though, but here).

Second, have your filing cabinet/shelf of writing books/paper organizers close at hand, for when you get an amazing idea to put that great scene from chapter two into chapter five, etc. and need to find your printout of chapter two. It’s awful – and I speak from personal experience – to have a great idea and not be able to find a working pen, or notes you need, etc.

Thirdly, and this is the main revelation I’ve had recently – make your space pleasant, encouraging, and inspiring. Julia Cameron recommends putting a collage up with pictures that are relevant to your current work. I also saw some good examples of this from writers on Twitter, for example, one writer put up pictures of old Victorian houses that inspire her for the setting of her book.

By inspirational things, I mean things like:

  • A page of positive affirmations, or, to get even more specific, creativity affirmations
  • Some art that inspires you to be creative, or keep going even when you don’t feel encouraged
  • Quotes from famous authors
  • Decorative little doo-dads – I saw a great wooden carving with the word “creative” with pretty swirls and hearts, at a farmer’s market recently.

Maybe not quite *this* involved…and not in your bedroom, either. Best to give writing it’s own space!

Fourthly, it’s very important to have a quiet space that is private. I know this idea is very obvious, a total “DUH!”, but sometimes it is hard to manage it with kids, school, work, and other obstacles taking away your personal time, energy, and sometimes space, too. Not that dedicating good time to any of those is bad, of course not, but having a private space can make all the difference!

Over and out,

Chaitanya

Artist's Way Book Journey · Musings

The Artist’s Prayer – Reading The Artist’s Way, Part 3

Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way books

Right now I am in the midst of Week 4 of The Artist’s Way. One of the tasks for this week is to write an Artist’s Prayer. Julia Cameron writes a really beautiful one, but I feel it is too long for me. I want something, like a 4-line mantra, that I can repeat every day.

I am a spiritual person, but I also deal with guilt sometimes when I pray. I don’t want to ask for too much. I don’t want to ask for too much and then be disappointed. I don’t want to ask for something stupid. As you can see, I’m way too mental about it and don’t have a lot of faith. People in my path can be strict, too, so sometimes I get challenged by people just because of the fact that I write. Some people think writing can’t be spiritual, unless I’m writing about God, or a line straight from scripture (in my path, we follow the Vedas from ancient India).

I admit this is one of my big challenges: how to be spiritual, how to keep the writing flowing, and how to mix the two together. If anyone has any comments on this topic, please share!

Right now I have not yet formed an artist’s prayer. I’m going to work on the task today. When I first read this chapter though, about Week 4, I was really struck by the following poem which Julia Cameron wrote. I thought it was her artist’s prayer – her prayer for what she wished and intended her art to do, how it could affect people. This is a point that I think is very vital when considering how art can be spiritual. More on this topic later.

Here is her poem:

Words For It

by Julia Cameron

I wish I could take language
And fold it like cool, moist rags.
I would lay words on your forehead.
I would wrap words on your wrists.
“There, there,” my words would say–
Or something better.
I would murmur,
“Hush” and “Shh, shhh, it’s all right.”
I would ask them to hold you all night.
I wish I could take language
And daub and soothe and cool
Where fever blisters and burns,
Where fever turns yourself against you.
I wish I could take language
And heal the words that were the wounds
You have no names for.

What do you think of it? What do you think of the artist’s prayer concept, something you repeat daily? And what are your feelings on being an artist (musician, writer, any kind of art) and being spiritual?

Until next time,

Chaitanya

Artist's Way Book Journey · Musings · My Writing

Recovering Self-Identity: Reading The Artist’s Way, Part 2

Image from fengshuidana.com

As I said in my most recent post, I am now reading Julia Cameron’s famous book on discovering and recovering your creative self, The Artist’s Way. AW is a book that I was skeptic on in the past, and even as I began reading it, I felt skeptical. After all, I have tried many “tried and true” methods for getting my creative battery jump-started when it’s dead. They haven’t all worked for me; in fact, I would say few have worked for me.

Why? Well, maybe it’s something wrong with me; maybe I don’t take the risks or have the guts to really dedicate myself to the many books and method lists for what to do when you get writer’s block, or get rejected, or get discouraged. I have done many journal entries about why I like myself, what are my favorite qualities about myself, etc. in order to boost self-esteem. I feel that AW is the artist’s version of that (for me, the writer’s version).

It sound stupid, but…wow! I can’t believe it’s working. I DO feel that writing affirmations after my Morning Pages is helping me to have more confidence. I have taken a deep breath, and I am having writing ideas return to me. The Censor is lying down snoozing and drinking lemonade, and meanwhile I’m scribbling down ideas in my notebook every couple of days.

Image from fabfreelancewriting.com Do you agree that writing faster is the way? I think I’ll do a separate post in this topic…

What’s more than that, I’m writing again! I am so excited! In the month of March and through the start of April I wrote nothing. I felt discouraged. I didn’t like how the revising of my epic fantasy was going. I didn’t know what to do with my literary novel steampunk “What am I?” second book. So one day I sat down and started writing something, anything…and what came out of me, so far, is a YA sci-fi with a Pocahontas sort of slant.

And what’s been happening as I’ve been reading AW and doing the exercises and homework is…more of the this YA sci-fi is coming out of me, in little spurts. I think I have about 10 pages now. I also write down ideas for my other 2 books; I wrote one more scene in the steampunk book, which felt good. (Later, I made the mistake of looking at that scene and the Censor rose its ugly head, so I learned a lesson not to look back).

The real Pocahontas

The epic fantasy is still intimidating and I haven’t done any work on it since I moved in March. But, I have hope that soon, maybe even this week, I’ll feel encouraged about it again. I *have* been doing some character explorations, since the characters are where I feel the revision is going wonky.

This week’s chapter, week 2, was about recovering a sense of self. The chapter talked about avoiding crazy and discouraging people who dampen your creative spirit. It’s also about exploring the people who gave your encouragement – a teacher in middle school who made you feel good about your writing, or the time you published something in your highschool newspaper.

Try as it might to kill our spirit, the Censor can’t. Because there are always ways that we have been encouraged; we just have to remember them.And, there are always current things we could be doing to help our spirit.

This week, my tasks for AW included describing my childhood room and seeing what was my favorite part of it, and if I could incorporate that into my current bedroom. I also did a great task called Life Pie, where I drew a circle and divided it into six parts: Exercise, Spiritual, Romance/Adventure, Creativity, Work, and Friendships. Then you put a dot in each slice of pie; closer to the center means less attention, further out means more. Connect the dots, and see where you’re out of balance.

Since the Life Pie activity, I have been working harder to re-balance my life. I’m exercising more, calling up friends more, and giving some time to daydream and think creatively – those are the areas where I struggle.

What are some of the activities that you feel you’ve neglected? What do you think would help you recover a sense of identity, creatively or in general?

Until next time,

Chaitanya

Artist's Way Book Journey · Book Reviews

The Censor VS the Inner Child – Reading “The Artist’s Way” – Part 1

Ok, I know I’ve been saying this – I will update this blog weekly again! This time though, I really mean it. I have new motivation. A few friends and I have started reading The Artist’s Way: Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self, by Julia Cameron.

In case you haven’t heard of it, this book has been revolutionary. It has helped a lot of artists get unblocked and a lot of new artists rev up their creative engines. I heard of this book many years ago from a friend; now I wish I had, and wonder what would have happened!

So far I’ve only read the introductory chapters and done “week 1” of this revitalizing creativity course, but…so far, I like it! Cameron has each student of her house do 3 daily “morning pages”, stream of consciousness journaling, as well as a weekly “artist’s date”. She also has the group share turns facilitating a grup activity.

I have been doing my morning pages for 1 week now and I find it works. I “drain my brain” as Cameron says, and find my day is fresher, my mind freer to focus on important things. I’ve even found myself getting ideas for my current WIPs – something I’ve been longing for in the dry creative month since I’ve moved.

Anyway! On to this post’s focus – the censor versus the inner child.

The censor is that demoniac part of ourselves that says (pardon my language), “You can’t write/draw/photograph/etc. for shit”. It’s the voice in our heads the stops us from doing creative endeavors, even before we’ve started. It’s our inner critic, inner editor, it’s the demon that haunts us all and kills our creative juice.

As artists, we NEED that creative juice. It’s not like juice; it’s more like water. If we don’t have it, our worlds feel upside-down and funky. Maybe you’ve felt it. I know I have. When I don’t write or at least think about writing, doodle, SOMETHING, I feel the lack. I feel uninspired, and not only that, but cranky, angry, even deeply depressed.

Cameron’s book urges us to unblock, so that we can get the water we need to survive. Her methods in her book encourage us to shut up that censor. A lot of writing books talk about this, but they don’t give a method for how; they just tell us, “shut it up. Freewrite or something”. Cameron’s book gives more.

Cameron’s book, like other artsy books, encourages us through personal and anecdotal stories. Not only that though, she has a really peppy mood, a real rejuvenating feeling, to her author’s voice. I also enjoy how she comes at it like a teacher. You, the reader, are a student, and you must do your homework if you want to pass. The rewards for passing, or acing the class, are to have the creative water that gives you life, joy, money, happiness, etc. You need it.

I like the teacher-student format, because it forces us reader-artists to be accountable – to ourselves, to Cameron, etc. Other writing books haven’t done this so much.

Today I was the facilitator for my group, and we tapped into our inner child by decorating our notebooks with stickers, Disney Princess stickers, no less! And we also drew/colored/sparkled with glitter, and illustrated our artist’s self/inner child, and our censors.

What would your censor look like? What about your inner artist child? What writing motivating books have you read that helped you?

Night night,

Chaitanya