As you know, I’m taking The Artist’s Way (TAW) creativity un-blocking course. It’s (way passed) high time I stop talking about writing and get off my ass and write (figuratively – writing actually works better for me when I’m sitting on my ass to do it). Since this is only week one, I thought a little update-o-rama wouldn’t be a terrible idea.
TAW, as a course, is comprised of a few parts. The easiest among them being reading the actual chapter. Reading I can do; one chapter a week I can do very well. But there are other components: the morning pages, the end-of-chapter exercises and the artist date. It really is like taking a course. (This is only problematic because it’s self-directed and I’m terrible at directing myself.)
The Morning Pages (TMP):
In theory this is an easy task. Three pages of free-writing every morning – no probs, amirite? No. I’m not. Now, I was not foolish enough to actually think this would be easy – I treated it the way I treat going to see post-apocalyptic vampire movies: don’t have expectations and you’ll probably enjoy yourself. (TMP are like post-apocalyptic vampire movies. Syllogism similes are awesome.) The first day was rough, I had no idea what to write. The second day was better, something had settled in my head. The following days were as easy as they were gruelling. TMP are interesting, you really have to just let go of all your perfectionist writing-for-a-purpose pre-conceptions and just write.
At the end of the day (week)? I did TMP every day. Three pages every day.
At the end of each TAW chapter there is a list of exercises. Some of these are as easy as “take your artist for a walk, the two of you. A brisk twenty-minute walk can dramatically alter consciousness,” some of them as difficult as “time travel: List tree old enemies of your creative self-worth [...].” I’m sure you can do all of the exercises in one sitting, but I completed one a day.
The Artist Date:
TAW stresses the importance of “nurturing your creative consciousness.” One of the ways you can do this is to take your inner artist on a date! Just you and your artist, no friends, family, partners, dogs or the irritating neighbour child who just won’t leave you alone. Some of the recommended dates are trips to the store to buy art aides (such as stickers for TMP), a trip to your local art gallery, a walk in the park, or an evening out to catch a flick. My date this week was inspired by Ms. Samantha Tiner who is infectious in her adoration of school supplies! Once I read the article the date had manifested: a trip to Staples. Now, Staples just happens to be in the same mall complex as Second Cup and I just happen to be completely in love with Second Cup, so I let the date evolve and went (this morning) to Staples (where I bought a new TMP notebook, because the one I’d been using is approximately 100 years old and the pages keep falling out and it’s driving me all kinds of batshitcrazy) and then took my book (Writing Down the Bones) to Second Cup and enjoyed a vanilla bean latté and a piece of banana bread. It was awesome! Sundays are a great morning coffee-date day because it’s (a church day and therefore) not a busy day right off the cuff.
I came, I enjoyed, I observed (that the older woman with the soft Irish lilt at the table behind me does not like raisins, but thoroughly enjoys cinnamon buns and leaves piles of offensive withered grapes circling pastry carnage).
People, I implore you: take yourself on a date. You don’t need to strive for creative success, or use this date time the way I’ll be using it. I think it’s important. I think it’s that kind of “selfishness” that we all really need to indulge in. Have your partner take the kids, put the dog in the yard or its crate, and put of anything you think is more important than treating yourself for just an hour or two a week and go. Get a coffee and read a book, watch a movie, go for a walk, check out the farmer’s market or sidewalk sales at the mall, drive to the next town nearest you to get an ice cream cone with Britney Spears blaring on the radio – I really don’t care what you do, just do it and do it alone. It’s rewarding, refreshing and recharging. Be selfish once in a while, folks (I know most of you personally and I know how selfless you all are – take time to treat yourselves. If you don’t do it, it won’t get done – you know this as well as I know this).
I’ve been meaning to re-read Writing Down the Bones and Bird by Bird for some time, so I’ve decided that while I work on TAW I’m going to read writing books. I have a few others that I’ve picked up along the way (On Writing, for instance) that I have yet to read and this seems like the best possible time to do it.
All in all? Week one has been a success. It’s not easy, but it’s working. I sat down the other evening, wanting to write something more than just TAW exercises and starting looking through the prompts for the Northlands Writers’ Guild (with the intent to write something for each of the prompts, because I sucked it up when we were actually still in session, so that I could perhaps attempt to resurrect the group if there were other interested writers). I am pretty excited to say that I wrote something for Month One’s prompt! It’s crappy and disjointed and needs a lot of edit work, but I wrote it and I feel compelled to edit it and (after I’ve smoothed some kinks) share it! (Be patient, it’ll take a while – in fact, just forget I said anything and be surprised when I post it.)
So far, so good.