Sunday, October 7, 2012

Creativity Project, Part 1

A month or so back, my sister recommended the book The Artist's Way to me during a conversation we had about unblocking creativity. Basically, I was feeling creatively stuck and she, who is certainly more creative than I have ever been, suggested reading this. Given the similarity of a lot of our interests and personality traits, I take recommendations from her - and from any of my siblings for that matter - highly. 

I'll say up front, the book has a spiritual component, by which I mean that the author has mention God a lot, and I'm only through the introduction and first chapter. She also says, though, that she refers to God because it is her belief, but that you could replace it with the word spirit or energy or numerous other non-visible forces that you feel could influenced by. So don't let that deter you from reading it if you're interested. The book is, to summarize very generally, an unblocking process for creativity. It's written in a way that she has usually conducted her actual classes - yes, she teaches courses on this, which I think is phenomenal and wish I could actually take. This means that each chapter is written as a week in her course, which is perfect for me because I tend to devour these types of books and wake up the next morning wanting to change my entire world, and then receive an immediate client need before I even finish my coffee and never get to step one in my life-changing revelation. This structure forces me to slow down, form habits that might actually stick, and hopefully really develop over the 12-week "course". 

There are two key constant pieces to this project. One is the morning pages. Every morning, before you start your day - or in my case after your workout because otherwise I know I won't work out - you write three pages of anything. You have to write three pages, interrupted, without judging it.  If you have to write "this is silly, I don't know what to write" for three pages, then you do it, until you do have something come to you. It's basically a brain dump to get things that might be milling around in your head out without judgement, so that you can see what they actually form. It also serves as a method for getting negative thoughts out of the way with before starting your day. Even if you keep a journal, you do the morning pages. I do both, and I find they really are two different concepts for me. 

The second component is an artist "date". Sadly for me, this doesn't mean an actual date with an artist (or anyone else for that matter), but instead it means taking yourself on a date to inspire your creativity. Which is ok too, because I find I'm a pretty good date, and so is my creative self. It may sound silly, but give it a try. You aren't allowed to take anyone else - I'm not sure if my dog counts, but I've played it safe and not taken her. 

Both exercises are created to help your creative self come to the surface free from judgement by anyone else or, ofter our toughest critic, ourselves. It's amazing to discover how self-critical and self-blocking you are. Ever feel like if you just say something aloud, even if only your dog is going to hear it, that somehow you're going to be judged for it? It's because you're judging yourself, without even realizing it. It's actually freeing to say "you know, I think really enjoy xyz activity/interest/hobby" or "I secretly want to wear this or that outfit" and not worry about what anyone, even yourself, thinks. Just because it's not something you expect of yourself, or others expect of you, doesn't mean it's "wrong". It helps get rid of the "shoulds" and the "should nots".  

All this said, I'm only in week one. For my artist date this week I took a trip to Michael's Arts and Crafts to wander around and see what struck my fancy - what creative projects I might be interested in. I found that the jewelry-making section really enthralled me. I'm going to research the process a bit more to see if I think it's something I'd be interested in trying, since it requires some tools and I have limited income. I bought a set of inexpensive colored pencils and cheap sketch pad. I'm a horrid drawer from all experiences, but I want to get some feelings out on paper this way, so I thought, why not?

I'm excited to start week two of the project today. I'll be including updates on my blog, hopefully on a weekly basis. If anyone is interested with doing this "course" along with me, I'd love to have a partner in crime! 

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