The Artists Way – Starting Week 1

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I can’t wait to start this process with you! I’d like to apologize for this being later in the day, I had a bit of a stomach bug yesterday and didn’t feel up to writing. But I hope to have these posts up by 9am ET Sunday so we can all start the week off early. If you’d like to participate in the discussion, I encourage comments here on the post. I know many of you read by email or RSS reader, so here’s a quick refresher on my commenting tool, Disqus:

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Okay, chores completed, on to The Artist’s Way!

the artists way week 1

Week 1: Recovering a Sense of Safety
As the quote above from the beginning of the chapter states, this week is to establish yourself in the process so you can explore your creativity without fear. A few things I thought about when reading this chapter, I look forward to your thoughts on it.

“Progress, not perfection is what we should be asking of ourselves.”

I’ll be honest, in 2006 and now a bunch of this chapter had me rolling my eyes. I don’t want to be some wacky artist, I never thought I had to be a drunk or crazy to be creative, this is soooo not about me. But remember not everything in this book will resonate completely with you, but hopefully much will. The goal with this isn’t to be the best artist in the world, it’s to help unlock your creative side and get more connected to your self.

“Affirmations help achieve a sense of safety and hope”

As soon as I read this quote I thought of Pinterest. Quotes are repined more than Crock Pot recipes. Why? Because reading them gives people a jolt of inspiration, of safety, of hope, of not feeling alone in their feelings. If you use Twitter, check out #theartistsway and see how many people across the globe are in the same mindset as you, looking to start 2014 in a creative and inspiring manner using a book that’s decades old.

“Who do you think you are?”

My Censor says this to me ALL THE TIME. What’s hard is my Censor isn’t the only one. I hear it in comments, in emails, on message boards, overheard at a blogger event. It’s hard to ignore it when you hear it so much. Am I one of those sad fools auditioning for American Idol who is tone deaf? But then, it’s not just my mom who is giving me encouragement and compliments. It’s so much easier to listen to the Censor than actually DO something and open myself up to criticism from real people. But the thing is, creativity is for yourself, not to impress others. Being true to yourself opens yourself up not to criticism but living fully. Writing down my blurts and then converting them to affirmations felt hokey but was actually quite freeing. I will continue this exercise this week in my Morning Pages.

This Week’s Tasks:

  1. Morning Pages. I started this Thursday, I just couldn’t wait. I had a lot on my mind, I was back to work and feeling as though I was falling back into my pit of stress and drama and frustration. Day 1 didn’t do much, Day 2 was better, Day 3 felt as though something unlocked. Be you sick, hungover, sleep deprived, being attacked by multiple children, whatever, do your pages. Lock yourself in the bathroom or go sit in your car in your bathrobe but do them. Last time I did The Artist’s Way it was the task by far with the most transformative powers. Don’t be Hemingway, don’t be talented, don’t think just write. And if you’re like me, you may feel you’re rebuilding dormant hand muscles with the process.
  2. Artist Date. I remember this being tough before, and before I didn’t have a kid. I’ve already looked at my work calendar and see a day where I can actually leave the office, take a walk, go to a bookstore and not mess with my iPhone or do anything but let my mind enjoy itself.
  3. Time Travel. As soon as I read this, I thought of an ex-friend who almost made me stop blogging all together. She took something I wrote on my blog and used it against me big time. While I didn’t get Dooced, it is a big reason why I changed jobs, shut down my original blog and often sterilize my blog posts out of fear.
  4. More Time Travel. It has been almost a decade, but it still feels good to take a picture of her and draw a mustache and devil horns on it.  Yeah, may have to do it again this week.
  5. Letter to the Editor. This one felt hokey in 2006 and feels hokey now but I'll do it. Eh, it does get you thinking…
  6. Time Travel. Three old champions of your creative self-worth. If you’re like me you feel stumped, but then you start thinking about crazy things you forgot from college, your first job, 6th grade, summer camp. And that thinking makes you realize you actually have had quite a few champions throughout life.
  7. Time Travel Thank You. Again, feels hokey to me but actually will help reinforce the fact that I have been supported, and have great people who have been or are currently in my life.
  8. Imaginary Lives. I love this task. Quickly without thought write these down, and then think about what you wrote and imagine if you WERE one of those things. Very fun.
  9. Injuries and Monsters. If you write it down, you own it, it doesn’t own you.
  10. Artist Walk. I just finished another book last night that suggested the same thing. The world is telling me something, it’s telling me to get outside and think. I like it.

So let’s check in next Sunday the 12th, talk about what we did what we didn’t do, what we liked, what we felt, how it’s going. I’ll be occasionally sharing my thoughts or activities on Twitter or Instagram, and will come back every so often during the week to comment on this post. I can’t wait to hear how you all are doing with Week 1 of The Artist’s Way!

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  1. Greetings from Korea! First, thank you so much for motivating me to start this. I’d heard about the book before, but for different reasons I was never drawn to it. (I actually stumbled across this site because I was researching about totes for commuting to work….) Anyway, yesterday I downloaded a PDF copy of the book and read the intro. Today, I wrote my first morning pages, and I just finished reading about week 1.

    While I cannot relate to the religious references in the book, so much of the content from week 1 resonated with me. I studied art in university, but I’m currently working as a teacher and not making much art at all. Many of the things she talks about, the ‘shadow artist,’ the ‘artist abuse,’ and the ‘negative beliefs,’ are scarily accurate. When I was reading, I realized that the negative beliefs I cling to are all based on my fear of not being good enough. I need to not put so much pressure on myself and have more realistic expectations! Hopefully the affirmations can help with this.

    Since I’ve just started, I guess I’m going to be a little behind you ladies, but I’m really looking forward to being part of this community and project. Together we can do this!

  2. Hi! I am so glad I started doing this. My whole family is creative and I just thought it was lost on me. The exercises have helped me realize that my perfectionist point of view is keeping the creative juices from flowing. I am my own worst enemy. The morning journals are excellent. Due to my schedule I have made them evening journals and realized that a lot of pain and fear is keeping me from truly allowing me to be myself. As an insomniac, I have found the journals are helping me sleep. I do feel like I am writing the journal for someone else, but hope that over time, I will be writing it more for me. I look forward to week two…

    1. Hi, I am so relieved that someone else is experiencing the same things! The same perfectionism – or as I lovingly refer to it as Analysis Paralysis. I just finished reading chapter 2, but on the exercises in 1 I had difficulty getting through all of them. On to week 2…

    2. I’ve been beating myself up this week because I have hit snooze instead of writing for two days. But I think evening pages would make more sense for me – no dog wanting a walk, no husband snoring, no child waking up too early begging for breakfast. Thank you!

      1. I’m glad you said this, Melissa, Sandles, and Allie. I’ve been ok with my MP, but there are mornings when I can’t stave off the hungry child or just want more sleep. Allie, your blog for week 2 gave me permission to let myself sleep a little this morning. Thank you.

      2. I am so glad that I could help! I honestly spent my first Morning Page justifying why I am doing it at night… glad I am not the only one! Thank you!

  3. I started reading my copy on Monday and did my first morning pages today. I was REALLY excited to do the pages this morning, almost too excited: my hand couldn’t keep up with my thoughts at first. So much of the first chapter resonated with me, but the discussion of the Censor gave me an aha moment. I realize that my Censor (me, of course) says such awful things to me, things that I would never, ever, ever say to another person. I’m wondering why I don’t give myself the same consideration and kindness I give to others.

    Years ago a friend asked me if I’d ever done AW. I didn’t know anything about it, but bought a copy in the thrift store, didn’t read it, gave it away, bought another copy, gave it away. When you started this, I was going to buy a new copy but found I had ANOTHER thrifted copy on my shelf. Then, last night I unexpectedly ran into the friend who first told me about AW! It’s funny how things come together.

  4. I’m grateful to you for doing this. very much so.

    I finally got my copy today, and my new notebook (but alas, no new pen). i’m going to clean up, get myself ready for tomorrow (inside of 30 minutes), then sit down and READ. the book. with no notifications popping up on my nook taunting me from the world of social media.

    and tomorrow morning, i WRITE.

  5. I really like this idea. I’d really like to participate with you and everyone else here, but I’m neck deep in a full time job and a class. I’ve ordered the book, but I’ll probably be going through it during February… I’m looking forward to reading these posts, though! 🙂

    (Hi! Long time lurker here! 😛 I love your blog.)

  6. A few things struck home with me immediately after I wrote my first morning pages yesterday. That I have been so busy giving others affirmations (as nurse, on a daily basis, to patients, patient’s families, co-workers to get through a tough day), that I have forgotten how to give them to myself. I have to relearn completely how to take care of me. And that I did not have a problem with the “wacky artist” stuff, I know that is not me. I just know that as a “jack of all creative trades but the master of none” is just an excuse to not push outside my comfort zone, to remain in one place, to not challenge myself and why? Because I am afraid of failure. I am not going to be afraid anymore.

    1. I’ve found as a blogger I have become immune to compliments. While we bloggers rant about trolls and meanies, the real weird part is having people every day telling you that you’re so talented or pretty, that your ears are shaped nicely and you pick out the best belts and weird compliments like that. And while I think it can give many a big head, for me and many bloggers I know become numb and suspicious of compliments, because are they true or just someone trying to network/promote their own blog/business? And it has gotten me all out of whack when it comes to blurts and compliments. I need to push past them, and not be afraid of the motive behind the compliment.

      Jack of all creative trades but the master of none is perfect. I’ve painted, done stained glass, sewn, drawn, written, acted, and all I have been good at but none I have perfected because I too am using it as an excuse to not push outside my comfort zone. You have given me such good food for thought!

  7. What seems a lifetime ago- I had a coworker practically beg me to buy a copy of “AW” as I call it now. I have told random strangers, friends and those I work with about it and it life transforming principles. As I started it again last night- I realized that I have not exactly DONE it- not all the exercises, not the weekly check in and most definitely not the play date. Morning Pages I do religiously.
    I am so excited to be a part of this group. I started last night- looked at the list of affirmations and BOY HOWDY did the blurts start.
    Heres to affirmations! and all of us having the courage to leap!

    1. I was going through my ’06 blog last night and there were posts titled AW and the ex-Knottie (The Knot wedding site) in me asked, “Why so many posts claiming to be an attention whore?” Then I realized they were Artist’s Way posts!

      I am so glad you’re part of this, Lisa!

  8. Thanks so much for encouraging me to do this and facilitating discussion. I’ve been creatively stagnant for a few months and really needed help. This book and the discussion will hopefully be what I was looking for. I grabbed a copy at my local used book store on Saturday and started reading right away. I can’t wait to write my first morning pages tomorrow.

  9. I think the artist date is the hardest part for me as well. I feel so pulled in all different directions it feels like a waste of time to “do nothing.” I’m really looking forward to the morning pages though as a way of just letting things go.

    I did have a bit of a breakthrough yesterday – I’m also doing apartment therapy’s January cure and the assignment was to buy flowers. I always think buying flowers is a waste of money because they die and I realized that I was holding myself back from enjoying the little things. I stood in the grocery store looking at the flowers and said to myself out loud “I deserve to make a pretty bouquet to enjoy in my home. I am worth the $8.99 for this enjoyment.”

    So I have to remind myself I deserve to feed my creativity – it is worth my time.

    1. So you mentioned flowers and I felt I added flowers to the house while doing The Artist’s Way last time and went to my defunct old blog to see what type (hydrangeas? Something big and full and white and from Costco) and got lost for an hour reading archives. But anyway, I agree, it seems like a waste of money but you’re right, it’s enjoyable and you deserve it and your home deserves and I just may have to get myself a bunch of flowers tomorrow on the drive home!

  10. I will definitely have to challenge myself when making time for the artist date. I allow myself to make every excuse in the book not to make time for myself. I don’t remember having this problem when I did the artist way the first time but I was also eight years younger and maybe a little more selfish with my time.
    Thinking about my creative enemies, still makes me angry. I’m excited to see what the rest of the week has in store. I love doing the morning pages, I had forgotten.
    I’m really glad I’m embarking on this journey!!!

    1. I remember relishing in trips to Barnes and Noble, sitting in a corner with my latte, playing hookey from work and going down to the Mall to the museums. Yeah, it’s easy to excuse myself out of them, but I figure if I can do it this week, it will be easier each time since. And it doesn’t have to be big, I can recall a couple months ago where I got up an hour early and just sat in a Starbucks at 6am for an hour with my laptop and a coffee and it felt so decadent. I think thinking ahead of time of doable dates, realistic ones and having a list may help me stick to it.

      And I am so glad you are embarking on this journey too! 🙂

    2. I had a real breakthrough with the creative enemies just now. When I first read it, I thought “I have none. No one has ever told me just blankly to my face that I am a sucky artist.” And then I felt idiotic for not being more creative…how could I not do it if I have had encouragement in my life when others have had none? Just now, it hit me though. My ex-husband, bless his heart, would always tell me “Let me chase my dreams now, and we’ll get to yours later.” And later never came. Just thinking of that made this huge wave of self-UNimportance just hit me, and like you, I got angry! Like seeing red angry. In a way, I hate being mad at him, because I just want to put it all behind me and be happy and whatever, but at the same time, the anger felt good. Jeez, what weird things this book is hitting me with.

  11. The “wacky artist” thing did resonate with me. I have spent so much of my life thinking that I was “different” because I liked to write and that meant I had to do everything differently. I couldn’t have the typical dreams that others had or the same life path–I couldn’t settle in my mind. But I have felt myself settling lately and oh yes have I wondered what that meant for my creativity. Reading this in the intro was like a light turning on. And it did help. It made me feel a little more secure in my choices lately and in the way my life is going.

    I am learning with this that I need to do better at turning my mind off as I go through these processes. I am having a hard time turning down my Censor. I keep thinking I don’t have time for this…my hand hurts…I just got this journal and it is beautiful and my handwriting is not pretty in it…I have to get the laundry done… It’s not just this way with TAW, but with running, yoga, watching Netflix, all things I enjoy but can weasel my way out of. I always feel pulled. My goal in all of this is to be more present with what I am doing, and I can already tell a small difference in that I at least have been able to turn off my mind when reading. I am also looking for creativity in my smallest actions, and feeling the power of it, as it is.

    1. See I had a different situation, I was in a gifted program in school and it seemed that everyone else was more eccentric and creative and artistic than I. I think even to this day I try to be wackier than I am to prove I am creative or artistic. But that may be my Censor telling me that to be creative people need to KNOW and BELIEVE it, and I need to prove it somehow. I catch even when writing my Morning Pages that I’ll start writing for an audience instead of myself. Not until Day 3 did I actually write without imagining someone reading it and judging me (and yes, my handwriting!). BTW super psyched you’re also doing this, I adore your writing and I know you’re in a happy place and I think the combination is going to make for an amazing combo for you <3

      1. My small private school didn’t have a gifted program, but everyone’s personal strengths were very clear and understood. Schoolwork was a piece of cake for me, but I learned that creativity and artistic skill was automatic, inborn, and effortless, like my head for reading and math. I have always hungered to be artistic but distinctly remember being consistently hopeful then deflated at never receiving praise with that special genuine impressed tone for any artistic endeavors at school.

        Thank you so much for hosting this. I am SO excited and started my morning pages this morning. I was inspired reading your experience and by the xojane article. I am in a wrenchingly painful crossroads in my life right now, and every day is a fight to keep the self I’ve fought so hard for. I’ve been aching to grow despite my situation, and as soon as I read your first post about this I knew I needed to do it. You are such an inspiration, Allie!

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