TAW: A week in review.

31 Jul

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.

TAW Excersises:

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.

Lupe Fiasco (feat. Matthew Santos) – Superstar


11 Responses to “TAW: A week in review.”

  1. C July 31, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    Yay! You sound sososos excited that I can’t help but be excited *for* you!

    • vyxen July 31, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

      lol! Thanks C – I AM excited. I’m actually doing it and it feels pretty awesome. 🙂 I have hope for the future, but must be held accountable, because I am The Procrastinator! 😉

  2. Lightningfall July 31, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    I’m glad that you seem so excited about this, Vyx. It sounds like it’s going well for you. Also, if you resurrect the Guild, you know I’m there.

    • vyxen July 31, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

      Awesome! 🙂 I was so hoping you would be. Give me some time though, I have to work through the prompts and make sure I can actually do it before I get all gung-ho about it again!

      • Lightningfall July 31, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

        No problem. I’m a little behind myself, so it looks like I’ll have to play a little catch up as well. I even think that it was my own topic that I dropped the ball on. Go figure.

  3. rebeccahamiltonbooks July 31, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

    You are so awesome! You are so filled with creative talent. I find that it’s often the most creative people who struggle to write. They can’t see their own talent or are too hard on themselves. But you have something special. What you observed about the woman in the coffee shop is proof of that (along with your adept writing style that is clear by reading your blog). Usually I find blog posts boring, but here I felt engaged and could see your life like a story playing out. You’re an amazing person, a great support to your friends, and definitely deserving to support your own goals and take some time for yourself. You’ve also inspired me to do the same for myself. Thanks for the great post. Keep writing. I want to see it one day soon!

    • vyxen July 31, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

      Awh – you make me blush, Sugar! Thank you so much! 🙂 What can I say? It was fun today – I’m glad, if nothing else, that I came out with a sense of peace and a cool sentence. The peace alone made it worthwhile, that you found something in that sentence makes my whole day brighter!

      Thank YOU for all of your support and encouragement. You are wonderful, wildly talented and I am so thankful that I have you as a friend and colleague.

      I’m thrilled that you’re going to take time and have your own dates/blocks of “selfish” time (that is not selfish at all, as we’ve discovered). That is awesome! 🙂

  4. Samantha Tiner August 2, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

    I’ve gone back to The Artist’s Way whenever I’ve been blocked and it has been amazing for me every time. Sounds like you have a great many good things going for you. I’m happy to meet other writers and artists. We all have to stick together. Will be following your progress and look forward to getting to know you. So glad I could inspire something for you. 🙂

    ~Samantha Tiner

    • vyxen August 2, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

      When you go back to TAW, do you just do a quick re-read and work on some of the exercises, or do you re-vamp and actually do the course? I think it’s awesome that you have had so much success with TAW. 🙂 Gives me a little hope! 🙂

      Thanks, again, for the great date idea! 🙂

      • Samantha Tiner August 2, 2011 at 9:52 pm #

        It really depends a great deal on what I feel I need to do as an artist. When you’ve completed the course, you know the signs of different blocks. So, it is quite easy to just do key exercises. But, the morning pages help tremendously. And while I try to stick to weekly artist dates, sometimes the budget doesn’t allow for the really fun stuff.

        Ultimately, you learn to do what works for you. I’ve even come up with some exercises of my own here and there. And sometimes, you do feel the need to just do it all over again.

        Once you’ve done this. Check out The Vein of Gold and Finding Water, also by Cameron. Sort of a continuing the journey works and courses.


  5. vyxen August 4, 2011 at 7:46 pm #

    That’s awesome, thanks Samantha. I really am glad to know that it’s worked so well for you AND it’s cool that it’s helped to identify the signs of different blocks when they crop up so you can remedy it before it gets bad. That’s so many different kinds of awesome! 🙂

    I’ll have to check those other two out, thank you for feeding my book addiction. 😉

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