The Artist’s Way, Weeks 4-5

The last Artist’s Way entry was illustrated with a marginally-relevant yet absolutely adorable dog photo. It would be wrong of me to favor Max and not let Simon have his internet glory.

So I survived the week of no reading. It was tougher than an entire month of unprocessed food. I need reading way more than I need artificial preservatives and white flour. It was a pretty frustrating week, because my primary method of relaxation was just gone. I realize the point of the week was to focus on trying new things and different forms of relaxation, but I basically felt on edge the entire time. It was such a relief to read again.

Week Five was a lot of fun. Most of the exercises involved visualization as a component, as well as collecting images of what we want and what inspires us. As a result, I ended up joining Pinterest, and creating a board for images I collect related to The Artist’s Way.

Halfway through Week Six, I’m noticing that I love the odd-numbered weeks, and having less fun with the even-numbered weeks. The even-numbered challenges are frustrating, or they seem harder to balance with work, writing, kung fu, and my social life. But I take it one week at a time. I’m still enjoying the overall process.

The Artist’s Way: Week 3

If you’re wondering how this is relevant to Chapter 3…it’s not, exactly. But I’ve been working on my photography more, and this is my favorite photo from last week. Plus. who doesn’t love cute dog photos?

I had a lot of fun with Week Three. Unlike Week Two, I didn’t feel flustered trying to fit the exercises into my life. They also gave me a lot to think about. There was a lot of artistic affirmation this week, including taking stock of all the people I have in my life who support my work, which felt like an extension of Week One. Between these two weeks, I’ve come to realize just how many people I have in my life who have a positive influence on my writing and other work. I’m really lucky.

My favorite exercise was #9. First, we had to list five dead people we wanted to meet. Then, we had to list five dead people (either people we’ve met or people we haven’t) who we wanted to actually spend time with in the afterlife. Most of the people on my first list were writers I wanted to talk to. But the people on my second list were all biological family members and close friends (both of my grandmothers, an aunt, an uncle, and Reesa). It was interesting to realize that, while there are definitely literary celebrities I’d love to meet, what I really want is more time with people I’ve loved and lost.

Week Four is starting, and I have my reservations about it. The tool for this week is Reading Deprivation. That’s right, no reading for a week. Uh, I can’t remember the last time I went a day without reading, much less a whole week. I’m also going to have to modify it a bit. Cameron advocates no reading of anything whatsoever. This includes reading for school/work. Unfortunately for me, this is impossible. Cameron argues that she has had jobs where she’s managed to put off writing for a week, but I think she’s lucky. My job is reading. I get paid to read. If I don’t read, I literally will not get work done. So I’m just going to have to make an exception for that, because I like my job and want to keep it. Also, there are some emails I’m going to have to read. I’m planning a bridal shower and a poetry festival. I can’t just neglect all of my responsibilities.

Still, even with making exceptions for the essentials, it’s going to be a long week. No books. No magazines or literary journals. None of the blogs in my Google Reader. No webcomics. I’ve only been awake for about three hours, and I’m itching to pick up the copy of The Haiku Handbook that I just got from the library after nearly a month waiting for it to come in. Last night, I dreamed that I read a magazine. I have a whole list of things to do today, but this is going to be tough. Sunday afternoons are so often spent on the couch with a good book, that even knowing I have a list of things to do, I want to settle in and get cozy with a cup of tea. I don’t know how I’m going to make it to Saturday.

If anyone who reads this blog has done The Artist’s Way before, any advice on navigating Week Four and the Reading Deprivation would be very much appreciated.

The Artist’s Way: Week 2

I finished week two of The Artist’s Way on Saturday, amidst the fun of the Georgetown Poetry Festival. The whole week was busy, between general life, working on the poetry festival, and an emergency root canal (one of the teeth damaged in my car accident a few years ago decided to start dying). I ended the week feeling like I hadn’t accomplished much, because it was a struggle to fit the exercises in with everything else. But I did work every day.

I’m really enjoying doing the morning pages, even though it requires getting up even earlier. My head feels clearer throughout the day when I do a big brain dump first thing in the morning. They’re definitely paying off. I also feel like certain projects I’m bandying around are coming together, especially my next poetry book. I have a title and a basic structure for the next collection, and it feels as though I’ll actually meet my goal of a rough manuscript draft by the end of the year.

This week’s progress was small, but no less incremental. I look forward to seeing what week three will bring.


The Artist’s Way: Week One


I’ve been hearing about The Artist’s Way ever since I moved to Austin, and saw it on the shelves on a regular basis when I worked at BookWoman. I have to admit, for the past four years, I thought it looked incredibly hokey. I knew lots of people who had done it, but I couldn’t get past the apparent cheesiness. But then, this summer, a poet I admire mentioned she would be doing The Artist’s Way again, and it wouldn’t be her first time. So I finally decided to give it a shot, no matter how cheesy.

So far, I have to say that the book has surprised me. In the first week, I have already been challenged, already made to think. Writing morning pages has allowed me to resuscitate a journal writing practice that has been stagnant for several years. Writing out daily affirmations doesn’t actually feel all that hokey. In fact, it’s refreshing. I’m also surprised, as I’m working on my affirmations, all the inner resistances and criticisms I have toward realizing the full potential of my creativity. It’s been worthwhile just to realize all the little ways my inner critic comes out.

I’ve also realized, while working through these exercises, that I have far more people in my life who support my work than I have people who create negative energy. I am very lucky to have so many wonderful friends, teachers, and supporters in my life.

The artist date is also a lot of fun. For this exercise, you go and do something fun all by yourself for a few hours. This week, I went out to Mount Bonnell and took a bunch of photographs. I hadn’t been out there in over two years, and had a great time wandering. The image at the top of this post is from some graffiti I found there; I found it particularly apt.

Speaking of photography, one of the exercises this week made me realize that I want to be more serious about my photo practice. So I’ve looked into workshops and joined some Meetup groups. I’m excited to see where this particular creative journey goes.

The one thing I have done differently is a slight tweak in terminology. Cameron uses the term “The Creator” in affirmations and in essays. When writing out my affirmations, I use “the world” instead. As an agnostic, I don’t feel comfortable writing out affirmations that invoke something resembling a deity. But “the world” is something that is larger than myself, and is something my skeptical mind accepts as real.

I did the reading for Week Two this morning, and I’m already looking forward to doing the exercises, going on my artist date (possibly the Elizabeth Ney museum, but I’m still deciding), and seeing where the week takes me.