Creativity for Skeptics Episode 4: My Word for 2021 and Getting Ready for The Artist’s Way (without the woo)

It’s episode 4 of Creativity for Skeptics: Flaneur 2021 (or I need to get outside!!!).  Transcript is below the podcast links.

Or download here.

Hello, creative skeptics and skeptical creatives. This is episode four of Creativity for Skeptics. Tammy here. In episode two, I talked about agency, my word for 2020, and how that worked out and didn’t, ultimately, it sort of did. Anyway, it’s the last weekend of 2020 as I’m recording this, so it’s time for me to choose my word for 2021.

Given how rough 2020 was and how much I didn’t do, I’d thought about choosing a very serious word to guide 2021. Something outwardly focused, since I’ve essentially been at home since mid-March. Plus, it needs to have concrete actions and goals associated with it, something I can actually do.

So at first, I thought about focus or concentration, something that gave me a firm direction. Yeah, these are abstract, but my brain loves shiny new projects, and my concrete steps could be something like “if you’re distracted by a new project, write it down, save it for later, and go back to what you need to finish.”

Which is good, but there’s something missing too.

After spending so much of this year inside my house and, let’s face it, inside my own head, I need something to draw me out. I need to, well, just play in 2021. Which so many of us need right now. A long extended session of “refilling the creative well.” Focus as a concept is good, but I don’t think it’s going to be what I need.

Which brings me to what I did land on: flaneur. Okay, first off, I apologize for my bad pronunciation of French. What does flaneur mean? It’s the idea of being a detached observer of society, someone who walks through a city watching the workings of the world around them. I’ll admit, this is not a great choice, because it’s a loaded word, it’s fraught. There has been much written about that, including whether or not a woman can be a flaneur (or flaneus, again, apologies for the pronunciation) in the first place.

But that aside, here’s what appealed to me:

First, it’s external. A flaneur is supposed to observe. A flaneur is supposed to get out of the house and look at the world around them. Which is what I need to do after being inside so long.

Second, there’s a sense of play, of adventure about it. I don’t have an end goal in mind, just getting outside. Which, again, is useful after a year of extreme vigilance and hard-core goal setting. (Not creativity-related, but I’ll talk about that in another episode.)

And finally, there are concrete actions to associate with it. It’s simple, but go take a walk. That’s good advice for anyone, really, but it’s especially useful for creatives. And it features in a lot of advice guides for writers, for other creatives. And it ties in to The Artist’s Way and some of Julia Cameron’s other books, which I’ll be talking a bit more about shortly.

So, this is late December 2020, and while there are vaccines available, they’re not widely available, and they’re going to the exact people who need them most, the front-line medical professionals. Wider access won’t be available for a while, so this means we’ll all need to wait until we’re able to get out into the world safely. I’m not going to risk mingling with the general public—no one should just yet—so how am I going to get out into society and just observe?

That’s a question I’ll go into more detail about later, but for now, I think it might involve a bit of virtual strolling through places. We’ll see.

Do you have your word for 2021 yet? If so, I’d love to hear about it. You can drop it into the comments for the episode over at [or below].

In just a moment, I’ll plug a new podcast about creativity that I’m really enjoying, but first, here’s what’s coming up on Creativity for Skeptics.

Later this week, sometime around the new year, I’ll post an episode in which I talk about my plans for doing The Artist’s Way from a skeptical perspective and without the woo. I’ll go through the introduction and tools in that episode, and we’ll plan to start week 1 on Monday, January 4th. I know, I’m in the US, but weeks start on Monday in my brain, so there it is. I’ll have the episodes corresponding to the weeks up on Sunday, so you can take a listen to the first one on January 3rd, and we’ll check in about week 1 tasks and look ahead to week 2 on January 10th. And if you’re hearing this sometime in the future, then, you can listen to the weeks as you come to them.

There have been over 4 million copies of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way sold, so I’m imagining that they’re probably easy to find at used book stores, if you want to go that route.

And now, I’m going to point you to another podcast about creativity that I’m really enjoying. I’ve been a fan of Rachael Herron’s for a while now. Her podcasts How do You Write which is ongoing and the writer’s well (which is on hiatus) are ones I recommend too. Her book about writing, Fast Draft Your Memoir, gave me a lot to think about even though I don’t write memoir. So I had to take a listen when she announced her new podcast, You’re Already Ready. The short episodes are a mix of personal narrative, thoughts on creativity, and gentle reminders that you’re already ready to do the thing you most want to do. And it’s aimed at a wider audience than her writing podcasts, so it’s broadly applicable to creatives in general. Take a listen, there’s a link in the shownotes.

So that’s it from me today. let me know your word for 2021, if you choose one. If you have any questions about creativity you’d like me to address, feel free to [post in the comments or send me an email].

Thanks for listening to Creativity for Skeptics. For more information about the show or to listen to past episodes, go to We’ll talk creativity again soon.