Our book club just finished Chapter 4 of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron which is a “12-week course that guides you through the process of recovering your creative self.”
A line in this week’s chapter really hit home for me: For most blocked creatives, reading is an addiction. We gobble the words of others rather than digest our own thoughts and feelings, rather than cook up something of our own.
It’s like she was talking to me especially when I reread this week’s homework. “Reading Deprivation” now known as “Media Deprivation” includes avoiding all the various ways content bombards us today. The concept is simple. Turn all devices off: no reading, no emailing, no texting, no surfing the Internet. No talk radio, no podcasts, no TV. For one week.
My first thought was are you kidding me? And then I did what I often do and did more research. I’m famous for seeking out inspiration, looking for ideas, how to’s, and collecting more data. However, I’m short on action and lack follow through. How the heck was this going to work considering everything I do is on the computer. Then I thought I would create a list of dos and don’ts.
The week went by quickly. I started most days by writing my morning pages and reading the Basic Principles (another homework assignment). I focused on work projects and emails only. I went for long walks by myself with no earbuds. I did my brows. I took my time watering the plants. I caught up with the laundry. I planned a week of meals and cleaned my car. I played the piano for the first time in ten years. I went to the coast with my husband and dog Ziggy. I walked the beach twice a day. I filled out postcards and mailed them to friends. I called friends. I colored. I made two vegetarian dishes I’ve wanted to try for awhile. I did everything I could to be present, mindful and allow myself to “play”. No posting. No liking. Just living.
I have been struggling to start this big new project. Through this homework assignment, I finally realized I am scared to death. I don’t like to fail, and maybe this might fail. Or it could be amazing and could lead to greater opportunities beyond my wildest dreams.
Sometimes there is no clear place to begin but at the beginning of things or in the middle of things or at any random location where you find yourself. In other words, to start exactly where you are. For me today, this is to admit I am intimidated and possible terrified. It all seems too hard!
So today I begin my seriously playful planning by gathering up my iPhone and walking out the door to capture some video. This is the very first of many small steps ahead of me. I have a big project in my mind. I want to make it real. I want to work on it.
What I do know is that if I take a small step and then another small step …. this project will begin grinding creakily into action and eventually get into gear so it finally runs on its own unstoppable momentum. Or something like that.
I am willing to improvise as required to move forward. I am okay knowing it will not be perfect. Because the alternative is worse: not to begin is the true form of “failure” for sure.
What do you need to get started on or start planning for? Or if you have already planned, how is it working out for you so far? Do you have a plan that needs to be made real, to happen in the real world — in other words, something you need to begin putting into gear?
You can do it! One small step begins it. Just a willingness to play around. That is all.
If you’re interested in participating in a reading group for The Artist’s Way, I am planning to do this again next year. Feel free to contact me directly for more information on my upcoming book groups.