The focus for week seven of The Artists Way creative recovery course is recovering a sense of connection.
When we listen to ourselves we can pick up on the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) hints our intuition is telling us. Intuition is that little-voice or ‘gut feeling’ that can often be overshadowed by our loud and dominant minds. The readings and tasks of week seven were geared to excavate your true sense of creative purpose, all those fabulous and wacky creative ideas that have been silenced by your ‘common sense’ thinking.
Reading Review: Week 7
Cameron sums up this weeks readings in a short and sweet sentence:
Art isn’t about ‘thinking something up’ it is about getting something down.
In a world dominated by the brain and ego we are encouraged to think too much and do too little (the issue of climate change is a testament to the ‘too-much-talk’ ‘too-little-action’ world we live in) . Thinking, while something that comes naturally to us, is actually an act of procrastination. It allows us to second-guess an initial ideas letting our inner judge assess the our creative spark before we are able to take action. We assess this creative spark for potential risk and possible failures that may mean it’s not ‘perfect’. Time for thinking also allows the green eyed monster to sneak in. You know that guy. He crawls into your brain and asks you ‘why does Sally have so many more Etsy store sales than you do when your illustration style is so similar?’. Unfortunately when you combine the procrastination of thinking with the green eyed monster you not only end up unproductive you set yourself high standards against people who may well be doing better than you, but that is probably because they are actually doing things. Not sitting around thinking and getting envious of others success. The margin quote (this book is littered with delicious little quotes) by Martin Ritt that summarised this idea perfectly was
I don’t have a lot of respect for talent. Talent is generic. It’s what you do with it that counts.
On that note, I will move on from the ‘thinking’ part of this week and look at the ‘doing’.
Task Review: Week 7
I personally loved this weeks tasks. They were all very tactical with tangible results and appeared to be designed around bringing you into the present moment creating a sense of mindfulness and action. It was enjoyable to take time to burn candles, listen to some tunes while doodling away (thank you Jeff Buckley you delicious man), visiting sacred spaces (mine was the beach), and collaging my little heart out. The Artists Way has been around for years, and my copy was published in 1995, so collaging during the time of publication was very much a physical cut and paste kind of activity. My collage was electrically produced and I now have it as an inspiring background on my computer. It was a case of finding images you love and pasting them all together within twenty minutes. So unfortunately I can’t credit all the images above but they are mostly sourced from the Free People Blog, Spell Designs, Arnhem Clothing, my favourite photographer Magdalena Wosinska (who is responsible for the bare booties and all other manner of photographic awesomeness), The Selby, and National Geographic and along with some other travel photography. Plus ‘that’ shirt that did the rounds of every tumblr account ever.
Checking in and Reflecting
Like last week this one was HECTIC. Fortunately my new found ‘space’ from morning pages and meditation has meant that being hectic no longer feels stressful so I have still managed to get everything done, just a little later than usual. Which is why this Sunday blog post is coming to you on a Tuesday. Other than that I didn’t find any part of this weeks recovery process very confronting or challenging. It was more an enjoyable and tactile week which is perfect for a day-dreamer (some might say ‘easily distracted) like myself.
Morning pages occurred every day however for the first time I have struggled to keep the momentum. This was because my ‘self care’ schedule was thrown out by some time away on a field trip, and then a very busy and social weekend. However, despite some time in a motel room and very late nights with people sleeping on my couch I still managed to get them in, even if they mostly said ‘I don’t have anything to write’ or ‘I am too tired to write’
I didn’t think this was going to happen this week. Luckily the weekly tasks had called for a mini artists break where I spent half an hour with some music and a sketch pad after a few long day of reading academic journal articles. It was bliss!
It got to Sunday afternoon and I started to think there wouldn’t be an opportunity for a creative date outside of this little one. Fortunately I was saved by a girls night with my beloved hairdresser friend. We had booked tickets a few weeks ago to see Katie Noonan perform on Sunday night. Having no expectation on how a show featuring this musical goddess would be set up I was delighted to find a totally new experience in the venue. Our usually jam packed standing room only live music hang out had been converted to a sit-down venue with a mixed age crowd (my guess is 18 to 90 years of age). It was a very different experience to sit in a chair on the dance floor and listen to this songstress belt out otherworldly tunes and resulted in permanent goose-bumps for over an hour. A successful but totally unexpected artists date!
Every single day! The artists date above is the perfect example of this. Things just seem to be falling into place and allowing them to do so without worry is a great way to reduce stress, especially when you look at how packed your schedule is.
Reflection on Week Seven
Week seven was beautiful and relaxing. It was great to take the time to allow the thinking to fade into the background and the intuition to take over.
We humans are not as complex as we like to think we are. Despite the advances we have made in our evolutionary process from substance living to agriculture to industrialised processes it seems to be the process of thinking that keeps getting us into trouble (don’t get me wrong it also has some positive qualities too). When it comes down to it we are driven by the need to eat, drink, reproduce, and stay alive. The all the other thoughts feeling and emotions that are placed on top of that are things we have thought about. I believe this is why ‘being in the moment’ is so satisfying. You remove all ‘things’ that your ego and your social upbringing have constructed you to think about and you just exist. In this state of existence is a hard wired ‘fight or flight’ mode which has kept us safe and allowed us to produce billions of ourselves. When real risk presented itself we are hard wired to either fight it or run away, we don’t have to think about this we feel it. It is how seemingly unimaginable acts of bravery are performed by regular folk on a daily basis. It is also why you should trust that you really won’t ‘die of embarrassment’ if your creative venture doesn’t turn out perfectly.
This flight or flight mode applies to all big decision in life. Be it a horrible feeling you have in the pit of your stomach about the ‘dream job’ you got offered that people keep passing off as nerves but you feel to be pending doom, or the decision to walk down a different street in the evening because you have a weird premonition that the one you usually take doesn’t feel right tonight. The moment we counter think these gut feelings we allow doubt to be part of our lives. It allows for bad decisions to be made.
Of course, this is my personal reflection on the theory of fight or flight and is only based on my experiences. I know that any decision where I over think things and go against that horrible ball of dread that sits in my stomach things don’t turn out well. It has only been the last few years I have decided to commit to using instinct for big ticket decision making and I can safely say that I haven’t regretted it at all. Even if alternative option would have been ‘smarter’ ways to go (usually smarter means more money or power or more socially acceptable). That being said, you do learn a lot form the mistakes made from over-thinking decision and these learning experiences are priceless and cannot be discounted.
My questions to you this week are do you suppress that ‘gut instinct’ feeling?
Can you remember a moment when you drowned it out with your thoughts?
How did that work out for you?
Feel free to share your answers below along with any other feedback or thoughts about this weeks Book Club topic.