I could hardly wait for the start of 2016. You see, in early December, I decided to embark on a journey of discovery known as The Artist’s Way. I also decided that January was the ideal time to begin.
The Artist’s Way is a twelve-week program designed to help individuals connect with their creative selves. As a show of my commitment to this endeavor, I signed a contract in which I affirmed my understanding that I am undertaking an intensive, guided encounter with my own creativity and committing to the twelve-week duration of the course.
Designed by award-winning writer Julia Cameron, the program is founded on ten basic principles. I’ve shared them throughout the post.
Several tools are needed to complete this journey. The first is morning pages. Morning pages are three handwritten sheets of unfettered stream of consciousness done the first thing in the morning. No thinking, no internal editing, but rather writing whatever comes to mind. It is by far the easiest part of the journey for me. What else am I going to do when I find myself wide awake during the wee hours of the morning?
The second tool is the weekly artist’s date. According to the program, this is essential for creative awakening. One would think that allowing oneself a play-date would be easy. However, as the program points out, this is one of the most difficult parts. It is certainly that way for me. How might I possibly take time out of my busy schedule for playtime when I have so much work to do?
By the way, this is the second time I have embarked on this course of creative discovery. The first time was in 2013. I struggled with the concept of a weekly artist date then too. Those times when I did take artist’s dates were wonderful. Be it a solitary walk in the park gathering small insignificant mementos, a yoga session, or drawing. I know the benefits firsthand, but the struggle continues.
Along with the tools listed above are a series of weekly tasks that consist of reading, meditation, affirmations, and self-reflection, to name a few.
At the end of the week, there is a weekly check-in. When I completed the program in 2013, I participated as part of a Savvy Authors workshop. My creative week began mid-week to coincide with the start of the new year. That meant the weekly check-ins took place mid-week. Thinking of the middle of the week as the end of the week was quite an adjustment.
This year I am taking the course on my own, and I decided to start on a Sunday. I set aside twenty minutes or so to check-in for the week on Saturdays.
During check-ins, I am tasked with answering the following questions:
- The first question asked is how many days this week did you do your morning pages.
- The second question asked is did you do your artist’s date this week.
- The third question asked is whether there were any other issues this week that you consider significant for your recovery.
My responses are as follows:
(1) I am happy to say I did the morning pages every day. As for the experience—it was liberating.
(2) Sadly, no. I’ll return to this later.
(3) I encountered a couple of issues that I absolutely must resolve if I am to continue to grow as a writer as well as an individual. I spent upward of twenty hours participating in web-based seminars to earn continuing education credits required to maintain my project management professional (PMP) certification.
I kept flashing back to parts of my life that I would rather not revisit, but I also had the opportunity to reflect on weighty matters: sustainability, corporate consciousness, environmental awareness, grateful leadership, and business ideologies.
Weighty matters indeed that seem to have little connection to my current occupation. Still, I have a sense that I made significant strides on my journey even if I cannot quite put my finger precisely on what they were.
That brings me back to the matter of the artist’s date. As spelled out in the program, to fulfill an artist’s date one must be open-minded. As directly stated, “the open mind is available to inspiration.” That is even more of a reason to take an artist’s date this week. I will be inspired.
What about you?
Do you ever find it difficult to make time just for you?
How likely are you to take yourself on a date?