Artist's Way Book Journey · Writing Resources

The Artist’s Way, Week 6, Ch. 5: Accepting Generosity & Possibility

MYSTERIOUS WAYS

They say that God works in mysterious ways. Now, perhaps you don’t believe in God, but I’m sure that even if you don’t, you admit that sometimes, this world syncs things up in very interesting ways.

I find it very funny that chapter 5 of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way is all about accepting possibility, generosity, and positivity in one’s life – accepting that, “Yes, I may succeed in life” instead of always listening to one’s Inner Editor. [Wordpress says positivity is not a word. Oh well!]

Just this past month I visited California. I got a lot of things in my life resolved. It was a huge relief. I had previously experienced a sortof Sound of Music torment between serving a very wonderful lady mentor, or choosing a relationship with my current partner. Even after having chosen to be with him, I still felt conflict over having left the full-time service of this particular spiritual teacher.

Here is a picture of her:

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Srimati Syamarani Didi

As you can see, she is an extremely sweet person. Very wise, full of empathy and compassion, very strong and bold and beautiful. It was hard to decide to be less close to her. But I did so, yet even after “deciding”, I experienced conflict.

Now that all came to a conclusion recently in California…I made new friends, I bettered important relationships to me, and I figured out the mood that I want to take when things are difficult in life. I want to be bold, I want to be positive, I want to understand that sometimes being strong means asking for help (T.E.A.M – Together Everyone Achieves More!), I want to be giving, but understand that I need self-care and time alone, too. It’s basically balance. I feel I achieved a glimpse of a future in my life where I am balanced.

And this was what chapter 5 of The Artist’s Way was all about.

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THE UNLIMITED BANK ACCOUNT

To know that God is protecting us is to know no fear. To know that we have an ever-expanding, blooming, flowing well of creativity at our command is soothing. In chapter 5, Cameron talks about how the shift to spiritual, or to believing in an ongoing and unbreakable power (within and without of ourselves), great stuff happens:

We find we are able to tell more of our truth, hear more of other people’s truth, and encompass a far more kindly attitude toward both.- Julia Cameron

The more that we listen to our artist’s child within, Cameron says, the safer it feels. We discover our truths. We discover what in the world resounds so deeply within us that we simply must write about it. We discover why we must write about these things. We find out how to do this.

This is what this entire blog is about. Find your truth, find out how to write about it, and then write it.

For me, the struggle is in how to write it, and finding out the truths. I thought that I had what I wanted to write about, what my truths are, all figured out. But then I started revising my fantasy novel, a book which is very beloved to me and which I’ve been working on for a very long time. I came up against challenges that made me feel almost like abandoning the novel altogether – still do, sometimes – and had to ask myself: Why?

Why do I need to write this story?

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This is my quest this upcoming week. I outlined half the book; I realized I need to know the end, and to know the end, I must know every bit of my villains’ minds and hearts. Beyond all that, deeper and deeper I dug, and found out, I must know why I write about this, and what things I’m actually writing about in this novel.

Back to generosity and the unlimited bank account…all of the above tasks around my novel are challenging. In order to continue forward, I must continue with the mood of positive loving kindness towards myself, with the mood of hope.

It’s the only way I can keep on going.

CATCHING THE BUS

One point Cameron makes in this chapter is how often writers dawdle and say that doing nothing is doing something. Yes, indeed it helps us to daydream and plan out our novels. But then you reach a point where you have to act. Acting is scary. It’s so easy and tempting to not act. But if you believe in that unlimited bank account, that hope, that generosity of the universe or God…then you can reach out. Stop running. Catch that bus!

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Cameron calls all of this “the virtue trap”, where we make excuses for not writing, saying we have to spend time with family, golf with our coworkers, etc. Some exercises she offered at the end of this chapter are:

  • Make an ongoing collage of your dreams – financial dreams, house design dreams, sports dreams, travel dreams. Feed it. Let the positive hope and wishing flow. Let one of those wishes come true. Try new things.
  • Write a list or make a collage of what you would do if you were 20 and had money. Think of the possibilities. Buy something interesting!
  • Cartoon yourself indulging in your favorite writing procrastination activity (Netflix, etc.)
  • What is your payoff for staying blocked? More time to laze on the couch? More time to daydream and not face how hard it is to be a writer?

Please note that I’ve slightly modified the above list to put it into my own words, and to make it apply specifically to writers. The entire list can be found in any copy of The Artist’s Way.

The Artist’s Way Blog Posts so far:

Week 1, Ch. 0: The 10 Principles Creative People Should Live by

Artist’s Way, Week 2, Ch. 1: The Artist’s Date & Morning Pages

Artist’s Way, Week 3, Chapter 2: Writer’s Self Doubt

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

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

Related Posts:

A Depressed Writer Day

Blocked. Just…Blocked.

Don’t compare yourself to other writers

Planning Your Novel, Part 1

 

What’s your favorite writing procrastination activity? How do you remind yourself of hope and generosity that the world gives to you and your writing?

Until next time,

Chaitanya

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).

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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.

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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

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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.

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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 · How Writers Write · My Writing

The Artist’s Way, Week 3, Chapter 2: Writer’s Self Doubt

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No Pain, No Gain

This week’s chapter of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way was very good. It made me take a deep breath, grumble and groan, but it was good. I had to face the many ways in which I block myself from writing. I say so many negative things to myself in my head, but actually writing them down and thinking about what they were was painful. Painful, but necessary – as they say, “No pain, no gain”. Ouch.

Instead of trying to summarize this week’s chapter, I will share with you Cameron’s Rules of the Road that she outlines and describes in this chapter:

The Rules of the Road

By Julia Cameron:

  1. Show up at the page. Use the page to rest, to dream, to try.
  2. Fill the well by caring for my artist [sortof like the inner child concept].
  3. Set small and gentle goals, and meet them.
  4. Pray for guidance, courage, and humility.
  5. Remember that it is far harder and more painful to be a blocked artist than it is to do the work.
  6. Be alert, always, for the presence of the Great Creator leading and helping my artist.
  7. Choose companions who encourage me to do the work, not just talk about doing the work or why I am not doing the work.
  8. Remember that the Great Creator loves creativity.
  9. Remember that it is my job to do the work, not judge the work.
  10. Place this sign in my workplace: “Great Creator, I will take care of the quantity. You take care of the quality.”

Silent Conversations

We have daily conversations with ourselves, silently, inside our heads. A lot of this chapter was about our daily inner conversations regarding our art (in my case, my chosen art is writing). We may say a lot of negative things about making our daily word count, why don’t we write enough, why can’t we write like so-and-so, why aren’t we published yet, why can’t our current book be as good as our last, etc. All of this talk is self-defeating and is full of self-doubt.

'I started out in creative writing, began dabbling a bit in creative finance and accounting, and before I knew it, wound up here!'

Cameron gives nice anecdotes and analogies in this chapter about the evil of self-doubt. For example, we keep all of our good, wilder ideas glowing, outside of a room full of things we find comfortable. When we encounter one of those bright ideas and, instead of seeing its delight we are afraid, we shut the door on it. Slam!

The most helpful detail amidst the anecdotes and analogies that stabbed into me was: Pay attention. One can only be delighted in life if we pay attention. Deadening ourselves with doubtful self-talk is a demon of inattentiveness.

They say, “Smell the roses”, and this is the basic idea: Pay attention to the world, and you will find delight and happiness, instead of darkness. Pay attention, Cameron says, and self-doubt will not persuade you to its side.

She does not just leave it at that, though. She gives a list of tasks at the end of the chapter, which include listing 20 things you like, choosing 2 for that week, and then actually doing them. She covers why and how to cut toxic people out of your life, comparing non-active creatives to a group of alcoholic friends that want their newly non-alcoholic friend to return to the familiar fold. Tempting and easy as it may be, Cameron cautions her readers and students against such a move, saying the only way to progress, in a way, is pain.

Paying attention is painful. Growing as a person is painful. Growing as a writer is painful. This is what Cameron communicates in the second week of her book.

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Battling My Dragon

This week was tough for me; I’m a little behind, and still doing some my tasks that were at the end of this chapter. I brought myself on a little shopping trip and let myself get some useful but fun items I had been really wanting. I have yet to bake, which was one item on my list that I enjoy doing but always find excuses not to do.

As for the writing itself, well…my goal today is to just finish one page, that’s how deadened I am inside, how wonder-less, how pained. Right now it hurts to write, because I’ve spent too much time talking to the self-doubt in my head. But I’m just going to go through the pain, and write that page.

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Hopefully I won’t be quite like this, as I try to get more productive on my book…

A sweet thing about this chapter is that continuing to read The Artist’s Way gave me the bravery to look at my book more objectively – as I revise it – and consider rearranging the first few chapters in various ways, to see what events needs to happen first. It’s very exciting and scary! I’ll let you know how it goes, once I’ve decided on an arrangement. After that, I’m moving on past chapter 9 to further revision and rewriting.

I hope that all of you are doing well in writing, doing whatever it is that makes you feel successful in it, whether that be researching, revising, drafting, doodling…but if you aren’t feeling good about it right now, take heart. I’m in the same spot as you. You’re not alone. And the pain you’re feeling right now, you CAN work through it, and you won’t be despondent or unproductive forever. Remember that.

And maybe pick up your own copy of The Artist’s Way!

Until next week,

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

 

Artist's Way Book Journey · How Writers Write · In the Family · My Writing

A Depressed Writer Day

 

A Big Shout-Out

Today was a weird day for me, writing and “In Real Life”. But before I get to that gunk, I want to do a big, joyous, arm-flinging SHOUT OUT!!

To my wonderful, new, shiny and squiggly 39 new followers…I wish I could do a shout-out post for all of you. Alas, The Artist’s Way takes up a lot of my time, brain power, and procrastination power, so…I can’t.

But to all of you, you know who you are – thank you! (haha, flashback to recent Oscar season, right?) I wanted to bring the spotlight to a couple of you.

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Spotlight on Friends

Zeina of Poem and Dish

Poem and Dish (love the name – what does it mean?) is a beautiful and heartfelt home for the poetry of Zeina, an Australian woman whose mother was a genius cook and who pours her heart into her poems. I know all of that might sound super cliche, but trust me. This time it is not. It is truth, fact.

Zeina really does put her emotions, her life, into her poetry. She shares herself. This is why I really love her WordPress site. Her poems make me go “wow” for real. They make me pause to think. They make me cry, and laugh. Best of all, they make me want to pick up my pen and get back into poetry writing (preferably with a glossy, cute new little notebook).

You really should go check out some of her poetry on her WordPress, especially if you are any kind of poet, yourself.

Freda of Fredabiddie

Freda’s WordPress site has an array of extremely varied topics. The focus that connects them all is that she is writing her truth. This is something I’ve touched on in previous posts, and I really like how Freda does it. Her writing may be nonfiction, but the same fact remains, in my opinion: to the amount that you put your truth into your writing, to that amount the writing is good and will affect your readers.

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Freda’s blog is extremely personal. She shares her trials and triumphs relating to depression, anxiety, motherhood, friendship, and other things that come up. Her posts, for me, read like a blend of journal entry and story. She really knows how to pull you into a scene. It’s amazing, and reading her blog reminds me that I need to pull my readers into my stories. Her blog makes me want to write better books.

That’s all for now! I hope to do more shout-out type posts in the future.

As for today…

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My Weird Day

Sometimes a gal just can’t get her writing done. Today that day was me. But at least I am here, blogging, right? I think it is helpful.

Recently I began becoming a cafe writer. I spent 4 hours in a row a few days of last week and this week, working on my story. I scribbled down new ideas. I completed a very difficult chapter in my revision that I had been struggling with. I felt sooo happy!!

And then…zippppppp…quietly….slowly…that happiness drifted, that inspiration drifted. I’m left with the next chapter, not knowing what to do. Should I revise it, or keep the events of the rough draft version? Should I plot my chapter scene by scene?

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I started reading this article by Holly Lisle, whose website I extremely recommend. But halfway through I felt even more overwhelmed and just stopped reading it. Plotting out my chapter scene-by-scene feels so tedious. So analytical. It’s not that I decry it like some writers do, it’s just…I’m afraid of it. I don’t know how to start. It feels like a math problem that will soon have me crying under the table while my mother tries to help me (this happened to me, once).

So, instead of facing all those questions, I remembered Julia Cameron’s advice from The Artist’s Way about the Artist’s Date. Make it fun, she says. Make it freeing.

So I took my little furry buddy, a red fox plushie named Mango (since I don’t have a *real* furry friend, yet), and went across the street to a delightful and horribly expensive knick knack shop called Paddiwhack. I perused about half the shop and alit on a couple affordable little doo-dads.

When it’s morning, I can upload pictures for you, but for now I’ll describe them:

  1. A mermaid in some silvery metal, with blue tail, whose card says she will give you strength and courage throughout your day
  2. A heart metal token, small and thumb-tip sized, that says, “Open your heart to all possibilities”.

These two little tokens I am now determined to carry around in my pocket(s). I believe in carrying little items, or talismans if you would, around. I find that they actually do help me to de-stress. The first one I ever tried was this jasper-type rock that I won for free at a gem and rock convention with my dad. It has a little thumb-tip-shaped groove on the bottom and I like to rub it, like a stress ball or a worry stone.

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Anyway, that was my artist’s date today. And it was fun. I did feel the anxiety and stresses of the day leave me. The weird grumpiness that made me argue with my best friend and gave me a headache, left. The sadness left.

And tomorrow is another day!

Soon, I will post another part of my The Artist’s Way series. Until then,

Chaitanya

 

 

Artist's Way Book Journey · My Writing · Young Writers

The Artist’s Way, Week 2, Ch. 1: The Artist’s Date & Morning Pages

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My Second Chapter of Reading The Artist’s Way

Reading chapter 1 of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way was not easy. My mind wanted me to skip over it, or parts of it. It said, “What are you doing? This is stupid. You read this just last year! What a waste of time.” But I told my mind to just shut up and keep reading. I told it, this will help me write. Don’t you want it to write?

My mind, however demoniac it can be, however distracting and worried and stupid, it does enjoy writing. It knows that when everything in life is dull, I can turn to writing, and find a reliable old friend.

So I slogged through anecdote after anecdote, and thought about how I should pen down each moral or writing-related gem at the end of each anecdote, but I didn’t. They flew through one ear and out the other, I admit.

Challenges on the Way

This workbook is tough. Why? Because it requires me to change myself. Humans seem to protest or fear change, sometimes, and I confess to being one such human. I don’t want to change. I get stubborn and rebellious. I get scared. I get confused and angry. This stops me from progressing in writing and in life.

But one day, as someone said, you’ve got to just get so sick of your own bullshit that you pick yourself up and go, right?

So that’s what I did. I read the entire chapter, and noted down two very special things:

The Artist’s Date

  1. The Artist’s Date. This is a day every week where you shut up your inner editor with Harry underneath the cupboard under the stairs, and run about with your inner child, AKA your creative side. You let it live and let it “take the bit” and “have its head”, to use horse terms. This could mean, for you, the peacefulness of painting the sunset from your back yard. Going on a walk in nature. Having a romantic date with yourself. Making a collage of your favorite celebrities from the magazines at CVS. Playing some games at Chuck E Cheese, even though you’re about 20 years too old for it, now.

 

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(By the way, these pictures above are from real artist’s dates people did).

The point of the Artist’s Date is to let yourself go wild. Don’t judge or try to change the inner child artist. Just let him or her be and do whomever he wants. Let him have some freedom.

The result of this freedom, at least over time, if not immediately – one hopes! – is that you can shut up the inner editor during your creative work and get more done, and get better work done, and not become one of those “I wish I was a novelist” people, and actually write a novel.

The Morning Pages

The second item the chapter gifts the reader is:

 

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2. The Morning Pages. These are 3 pages of anything whatsoever that you dedicate yourself to write EVERY. DAMN. DAY. Not when you feel like it. Not after your shower and yoga. You scribble that S*** down every morning, ideally as soon as you wake up! You can doodle, draw, write down a to-do-list, write down your worries, but make it 3 pages, and do it EVERY day.

This can seem trite and annoying but in actuality it helps, somehow. My personal feelings are that it helps me clear my head so that when I sit down to write, I’m not thinking of the dishes or the laundry or an important phone call, etc., because I wrote about it, and I either plan to do it after, or I already did. But if I already did it, or I haven’t, and I DIDN’T write the morning pages about my worries or to-dos, then…somehow, a little hole is open where non-writing thoughts sneak in.

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When I Failed

Then the whole thing just goes to crap, and I get nothing done, to be honest. I go on Pinterest to look at Pre-Raphaelite art or even writing TIPS, HA!, or check email, Facebook. etc. so much CHECKING to be done…and little to no writing gets done that day. Because when I’m done wasting time on the computer – which was supposed to be my writing time – I have to spend time with people, or get that to-do-list done, or sleep…and there goes that writing time good-bye. *sniffle!*

Today I did the morning pages. I did them late, but I DID them! And what did I do tonight, for two hours at Starbucks? I wrote! I started and finished an entire chapter of my book-in-revision, and I took notes down for the next chapter. I hope to write that chapter tomorrow, thanks to my morning pages. *smile* =)

See? It works!

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Read With Me!!

Pick up an Artist’s Way book and try it out for yourself. I think this blog series would be so much more fun if we all read and did the exercises together, wouldn’t it?

If you have read, are reading, or plan to read the Artist’s Way, please tell me in the comments. I’ve only read chapter 1 so far, and you have an entire week until I post about chapter 2, so – this is your chance! Pick up a book, order it online today, and this can become a Read-Along. You can get your writing or art, or any creative project you may have, done! You can create quality work and shut out the Inner Editor! Just pick up this book, work on yourself, do the exercises, and you will see results.

I promise I’m not getting paid to say all this. I genuinely feel this way. I hope reading about my journey can help you in your creative efforts, and I enjoy sharing.

Until next time,

Chaitanya

 

Artist's Way Book Journey · How Writers Write · Musings

The Artist’s Way, Week 1, Ch. 0: The 10 Principles Creative People Should Live By

After so long, I am so excited – scared! nervous! ack! – to finally be starting my Artist’s Way journey. Again. With you! It is both nerve-wracking and wonderful. When I started this book last spring/summer with a group of friends, it was a group adventure. We were all in it together, and I didn’t know what to expect. I was just glad to be doing a group activity, and curious about the book’s tagline: “A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity”, and it’s second tagline, or hook, as you could call it, which runs across the cover: “A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self”.

My First Attempt

During my first attempt at said course, I met with my friends once a week. During our week, we brought ourselves on “artist’s dates”, meant to rejuvenate our non-judgmental inner artist and child, and journalled – or attempted to, or procrastinated! – daily, writing our 3 “morning pages”.

I really liked the experience. I am usually one of the more creative people in my group of friends, especially with words, so it felt very comforting to be in a group where people were trying to be more creative. Usually groups I’m in are related to work, or in the past, school. Creativity was never in very high demand. So here I saw, all of a sudden, in a group where being a creative weirdling was an advantage. Yay! My heart sang.

 

My Experience with Morning Pages

The group activities we did were always full of laughter. For me, one of the most freeing things I did alone was the morning pages experience. Sometimes I was busy or reluctant and did not do them, I’ll admit. But! When I did, wow! The feeling surprised me. I felt so relieved. I unburdened my worries and anxieties onto three little pages, and then was able to go about my day. It was amazing how writing down the negative thoughts helped me to not think of them during the day or evening. I was even safe from the demons before bed! It was such a relief.

On the days I didn’t do the morning pages, I really felt the difference. I found myself more cranky, more worried, and likely to experience heart palpitations or anxiety attacks (which I do suffer from, sometimes). I knew it was because I had forgotten my morning pages. This made me more determined.

Increased Self-Esteem!

Besides this, I also found that Julia Cameron’s book did help me gain some self-esteem. I felt more determined to finish my current work-in-progress fantasy book. I wrote more eagerly, more often, and the quality of my work improved. It was so exhilarating. After months of struggle, scenes flowed into my mind. After months of working creatively and feeling alone in my endeavors, I had a group of friends who were also trying to re-ignite their creative sparks. After so long of back-and-forths, I could finally sit down at a determined convenient time each day and write. And I didn’t throw out everything I wrote, either. I kept it. It was good stuff! It has now led me into a third draft of the first 7 chapters of my book.

Starting Over

Unfortunately, I stopped the momentum when I moved from California to Florida, which was a big move. And I didn’t resume my journey, and made excuses, one of them being that my group did not continue without me – they, too, got swamped by life.

But now I am starting it again, and it’s because of you guys! I noticed extra interest in all the posts where I mentioned Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, and seeing your heart respond, I remembered how mine had responded, too. So now I start my journey over, and instead of my physical group with me, I have all of you to witness my progress (or lack thereof – we’ll see!).

Today is Day 0, because so far I have read the book’s Introduction and Foreward. In it, Cameron gives a magical list of absolute gem advice, which she calls the Basic Principles. They are as follows, and I will let you think on them and judge them, take them up, or leave them by the wayside – whatever you wish:

Julia Cameron

Julia Cameron’s Basic Principles Creative People Should Live By

  1. “Creativity is the natural order of life. Life is energy: pure creative energy.

  2. “There is an underlying, in-dwelling creative force infusing all of life – including ourselves.

  3. “When we open ourselves to our creativity, we open ourselves to the creatior’s creativity within us and our lives.

  4. “We are, ourselves, creations. And we, in turn, are meant to continue creativity by being creative ourselves.

  5. “Creativity is God’s gift to us. Using our creativity is our gift back to God.

  6. “The refusal to be creative is self-will and is counter to our true nature.

  7. “When we open ourselves to exploring our creativity, we open ourselves to God: good orderly direction.

  8. “As we open our creative channel to the creator, many gentle but powerful changes are to be expected.

  9. “It is safe to open ourselves up to greater and greater creativity.

  10. “Our creative dreams and yearnings come from a divine source. As we move towards our dreams, we move toward our divinity.”

 

Now wait, WAIT! Before the word “God” or the idea of our creativity being given to us has you deciding to leave – please just wait. Know that I, too, take Cameron’s word with skepticism. Hear me out.

Thoughts on Writing + Spirituality

When I read these the first time – and even now, to be honest – I wasn’t sure how to feel about them. Part of me said, “Wait a second. God wants me to use my creativity. But what if I don’t want to write about God? What if I write about murderers, or something dark, why would God want me to write about that?” Similar thoughts in that train circled through my head, and I determined that Cameron was taking the Higher Power (or God, or whatever you may want to call Him or Her, or maybe you don’t believe in any thing at all) too seriously and linked Him too much with what was, really, a selfish sort of thing we do for ourselves.

So then came a dilemma for me, in a way. Because I am a person of faith, who believes in serving God, but I am also creative. How to balance that out? Well, it’s another, long sortof story, but let’s just say…I’ve accepted my identity as a writer, who isn’t likely to stop writing, who is also trying to become a good servant of God. And that’s okay. It’s where I’m at.

And I also believe that we can use our creativity to write about spiritual experiences. I’m not sure if I do believe, as Cameron implies, that the act of writing is inherently spiritual. But! Though this may deter you from wanting to read my Artist’s Way journey further, don’t fear – I DO read on, I DO find tremendous creative benefit from reading her book, and who is to know what happens when I get past chapter 6? That was the furthest I got with my group before. Suffice to say, I have seen and experienced the benefits of Cameron’s work, regardless of her personal philosophy, or in spite of, or because of – it doesn’t matter. What matters is, it works.

What’s Coming Next…

Want to see if I’m right? Well then, keep an eye peeled! (What does that even mean? Who would want to PEEL their own eye? Maybe a study of weird phrases is worth a separate post some day, hmmm….haha!) I will be posting an Artist’s Way post every week now, steadily. My day is Thursday. And I may squeeze in another post or two on other topics, as they come to me, or I land a couple special guest post ideas I’ve been meditating on.

Would love to hear your thoughts on Cameron’s Basic Principles!

See you next week,

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

10-Day Blog Makeover · Announcements · Musings

My Blog Mission – Makeover Day 1

mission-statement

The first assignment I got today as part of the 10 Day Blog Makeover, by Daniela Uslan, was this:

Write your blog mission statement.

Uslan goes on to say that the mission of your blog is the fuel for your blog. It’s what everything in your blog should center around – even your headings!

Fortunately, she doesn’t just leave it at that, and gives a simple formula around which to form a mission statement around.

I am happy to say I figured out my mission statement pretty quickly. I think this shows that this blog DOES have focus. Writing is a very broad category to write under, but I do have a certain mood pervading all of my posts. I had to think about what it was exactly, for a while, and then how to word it succinctly, but…I came up with something. It is a rough, and I may change it later…but honestly? I don’t think I will. I think this is it. I think I got the GOLD!

writing-company-mission-statement

This Blog’s Mission Statement:

I, C.S. Kinnaird, blog about writing in order to help writers find a balance between writing with their hearts and writing with their minds. I do this because I want to know how creativity works psychologically and how we can put our heart’s struggles and triumphs into every piece we write.

What do you think? Does it make sense? I hope it made it clear and not too abstract. I want writers to read that statement and feel excited about what this blog has to offer. Do you?

In case it isn’t clear, I guess I’ll explain myself a little bit.

There are a lot of websites out there that tell us how to write. They give us “the five best techniques for writing your villain”, or, “10 steps to finishing a first draft”. I see them all over Pinterest, and I see a lot of technical articles on big writing websites. All of these articles are helpful, and some of them are super fantastic.

But once you’ve read all those and digested them and learned how to implement them in your daily writing work…it’s still just you, and only you, who can write those pages. It’s you who has to search inside and figure out what you want to write, and why, and how. Some people are just beginning writing, and that can be a very floundering time. Other writers are published authors and have done tons of books, and yet even they have struggles. Sometimes they get stuck, too. A lot, actually.

And sometimes the “stuck” moment isn’t due to your missing out on some technical point on a list. It’s because you’re, say, not sure what your story is about anymore, or you lost track of a character’s motivation. You have to go back to the ideas and feelings that first made you start writing that story. You have to go back to you, to just sitting inside of yourself and thinking of things that hold meaning for you. And then you go back out, bit by bit, to transport that meaning and feeling inside of you onto your pages.

thinkingwriter

And when you’re done, if you’ve done that work of looking inside and putting what’s inside on paper, then you have a good book. This is what I believe, based on my experiences as a writer and a reader. You have to write with your heart, not just your mind.

It can be hard to find that balance between heart and mind, in writing. That is why this blog is here!

As for the second part of my mission statement, I’ve referred to the part about heart triumphs and struggles – going inside and grabbing what means something to us and putting it on paper – but what about the psychology of creativity? What do I mean by that?

This was the part where I got stumped, mid-way in making my mission statement. What did I mean by “how creativity works psychologically”? At first I wasn’t even sure.

After some thinking, my conclusion was: Look at Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. She makes her workbook function as a study in how we writers think, where we fail, where we need encouragement, etc. This seeing ourselves helps us to then go out and create. Cameron does this in her books and it really, really helps us a writers to step away a bit and look at ourselves (really, it’s more like stepping in). Cameron calls us out on all of out bullshit and leads us to a solution to our creativity issues – not just by following her formulas, but by being free. Ultimately the work is up to us.

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In a nutshell, by saying the psychology of creativity, I mean how our minds work as creative people and in practicing our craft, and what we can do to manipulate our emotions of doubt, fear, etc. to help us in our work. There is room in “writing by mind” for the technical articles, too; I read them and enjoy them, and include that advice in this blog, too. But by psychology of creativity, I refer to the need to study our trains of thought and catch what’s useful and what isn’t.

Thank you all for reading! Tomorrow, you may see more posts or changes on this blog for the second day of the blog makeover challenge!

Until then,

Chaitanya