Creative Recovery & The Artist’s Way: Week 2

Week 2 of Cameron’s The Artist’s Way aims to help struggling participants recover a sense of identity. Week 1’s theme, which focused on recovering a sense of safety, was much more apparent to me in Cameron’s predetermined exercises. (If you haven’t read last week’s blog, I recommend it if you want to follow along!) Upon first thought, I’m not certain I’ve recovered much of my identity as a writer after Week 2, but I also recognize that this is probably the biggest hurdle in my creative recovery. My identity as a writer is absolutely fragile–especially because I’m the type of person whose self-worth is depends on success in my professional life. Given that my professional life includes my writing, things tend to feel pretty impossible when I can’t motivate myself to write. Thus, the vicious cycle continues.

Despite the doubt that I see my identity as a writer any clearer, I found Week 2’s exercises easy to tackle. I wound up completing them all–something I couldn’t bring myself to do in Week 1. This week’s tasks:

  • Affirmative Reading: Every day, morning and night, get quiet and focused and read the Basic Principles to yourself.
  • Where does your time go? List your five major activities this week.
  • List twenty things you enjoy doing. When was the last time you let yourself do these things? Next to each entry, place a date.
  • From the list above, write down two favourite things that you’ve avoided that could be this week’s goals.
  • Dip back into Week 1 and read the affirmations. Note which ones cause the most reaction. Write three chosen affirmations five times each day in your morning pages.
  • Return to the list of imaginary lives from last week. Add five more lives.
  • Life Pie: Draw a circle. Divide it into six pieces of pie. Label one piece spirituality, another exercise, another play, and so on with work, friends, and romance/ adventure. Place a dot in each slice at the degree to which you are fulfilled in that area (outer rim indicates great; inner circle, not so great). Connect the dots. This will show you where you are lopsided.
  • Ten Tiny Changes: List ten changes you’d like to make for yourself, from the significant to the small or vice versa.
  • Select one small item and make it a goal for this week.
  • Now do that item.

I managed to complete the majority of these. The affirmations I chose to write down in my morning pages were part of a list that Cameron provides in her book, and spoke a lot to the current lack of motivation I’ve been feeling as of late. I chose: my creativity heals myself and others; I am allowed to nurture my artist; I am willing to learn to let myself create; my creativity leads to forgiveness and self-forgiveness. It’s no secret that we are all hard on ourselves–that we constantly feel like we aren’t doing enough. While I’m not sure these affirmations revealed anything more about my identity, they did illuminate that it was okay for me to identify as a writer and as a person who is allowed to prioritize their creativity. Until I’ve published enough books to live off royalties, or writing enough paid essays, I’m not sure I’ll ever find it easy to put my writing at the forefront of the things I need to get done. The Life Pie exercise was an excellent visualization of what I already knew to be true about myself. I feel unfulfilled in exercise, work, spirituality, and adventure. I’m fulfilled however, in romance, friends, and play. If I had to choose the most important aspects of life, community and people would rank highest. I am so grateful for the people I love and their patience with me. This exercise gave me hope that the rest will come.

The struggles I found myself facing this week had to do with my morning pages and affirmative readings–the two daily practices. I only completed three days of pages, versus the seven that Cameron recommends. In the pages I did get around to writing, I wrote a lot about the anxiety I have regarding my professional life, and I found my anxiety became a lot more manageable when I was able to get it onto the page. I was able to accept that I won’t be happy and stress-free all the time–a desire I’ve come to realize is unrealistic. I can, however, deal with anxiety and stress in a healthy way, and while logically I’ve always known this, I guess it took Week 2’s (very few) pages to help me sit with those feelings and let myself feel them. Resisting fear and worry doesn’t serve me as an artist or as a person. At times, my morning pages feel petty, whiny–like my ten-year-old self. Cameron describes our inner artist as a child, so I suppose that’s exactly how they’re supposed to sound.

This week’s artist date wound up being a happy accident. As opposed to last week’s date with myself, I didn’t have anything in mind or planned, and I had almost forgotten about it until I thought about writing this blog post. On Saturday, I took myself to WORD Brooklyn, and then also wound up watching Grabbing Pussy by Karen Finley, poet and performance artist. The show was put on at La MaMa, an experimental theatre club, where I met some amazing people doing amazing work. Overall, the experience was a lot more restorative than I was expecting. If you’re in New York and looking for a good place to take your artist on a date, I highly recommend their programming. La MaMa exudes safety and warmth.

Other notes from this week: I’m tired. Last week I was tired too, but it feels good to slug through.

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