In episode 9 of Creativity for Skeptics, I’ll recap week three of The Artist’s Way and preview week four. Transcript is below.
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Hello, skeptical creatives and creative skeptics. Tammy here. This is episode nine of Creativity for Skeptics. In this episode, I’ll share my experiences with week three of The Artist’s Way as well as preview week four. Keeping this one short again this week yet again, no intro or outro or recommendation.
And what a week it was. Here in the US, I think there was a collective moment of peace when the storm was over, we have a new President now. But, to extend that metaphor, now’s the time we have to look outside and see what damage there is that we have to fix. And we have to acknowledge that for so many Americans, the storm is far from over, the storm has never subsided for them.
I think my own creative journey has paralleled my social and political journey. That manifests itself in the political science fiction stories that I’ve written and the blog posts I write, but it’s also in the fact that I feel like I can speak out now, especially to elected officials. There’s a lot that I write that isn’t directly political, but it informs my work no matter what I write.
It’s been an exhausting week for other reasons too. Some good reasons. I attended an online Zoom for a local writers’ group, and it was wonderful and everyone was lovely and after meeting with a dozen new people, I want to sleep for a week. Like I said, I’m an introvert.
I do want to note here that I gave a talk on Creativity for Skeptics for Freethought Blogs in 2020, which was a reprise of a talk I gave in 2018 for Fellowship of Freethought Dallas. I talk about our need for community in that one, and I may devote an episode to that soon. And also, I think after the twelve Artist’s Way episodes, I’ll grab the audio from the 2020 version and post that in the feed.
Heading back toward The Artist’s Way. Another little personal note. One thing that I like about Julia Cameron’s tasks is that it’s a lot of list making. I love lists. I live my life through little daily lists and grander yearly lists. It’s how I get stuff done.
Anyway, what’s this got to do with creativity? I’m working on a series of sonnets that I’d like to craft into my next poetry chapbook, and the work I did on a few preliminary poems was in the direction I wanted to go, but there was something not grounded in the physical experience of the woman I was writing about.
So, I’m making lists for her. I make pages and pages of notes for each poem I write–like a ten line poem, I can write pages that I hone into those ten lines. But this is different. I’m starting not from the arc of any story I want to tell, any emotional and intellectual movement from one point to another, which is what I usually do. This is more me looking at the stuff around the speaker of these poems. What does she hold on to? Why? What is meaningful to her, particularly in light of the losses she contemplates in the poems? So, lists. That’s one way doing the tasks has helped me in a larger project. I’ll report back on this way of going about composing the poems, if it worked any better or not.
I’m also making a list, a spreadsheet really, of agents. Which is the more intimidating list, but it’s a list. It’s a start, right?
So, week three. No morning pages, no artist date. I’m wondering if that happened to a lot of us this week. Anyway, I did do tasks, and I wanted to note a couple things. First, task number four, one of my bad habits is scrolling through social media. I’m on Instagram as a writer, and honestly, I don’t know what I’m doing there. I wanted to use it as a chance to get more in touch with the visual, rather than just words. But thinking about social media, my platform or whatever, that’s become less about presenting my work and more about a thing I can worry about so I’m not working. Anyway, I’d be curious to know whether social media would make it into the list of bad habit examples if Julia Cameron rewrote this for the 2020s.
Also, was anyone else just grossed out by the treats in task three? Some things I would have happily eaten as a kid–like fruit-flavored candy–those are not a food item. Also, mac and cheese. Which garnered negative associations for me in my 20s, and which I now refer to as acrimony and cheese. Anyway, I’m making a peach cobbler, which was something I liked as a kid and something I still consider a food item.
So, how did your week three go? I’d love to hear about it. I’d love to hear what you did last week for an artist date and anything you have planned. Leave a comment at freethoughtblogs.com/freethinkingahead. Or if you’d like to share your thoughts on the artist date, what you did, how it went, you can record a clip and send it along. I’ll play selected clips on upcoming episodes.
Anyway, on to week four. Lots of good stuff in the first section, “Honest Changes.” I think “okay” which she talks about in this section is a word I’m going to remove from my day-to-day use. There’s a powerful paragraph on page 82, one worth focusing on: “[…] creativity is grounded in reality, in particular, the focused, the particularly observed or specifically imagined.” This goes back to my poem lists, and it’s definitely a “this is why I love this book” moment. In spite of the woo in this section.
The “Buried Dreams” section contains a useful exercise. But I’m not convinced by the “Reading Deprivation.” Two things. First, I don’t think I’m the person she’s talking to here. I read at night and it feels like a luxury. I’m not getting lost in others’ words to avoid my own, if that makes sense. I think that’s a lot to do with why I don’t watch TV, though.
Which leads me to number two. If you’re not reading, I’d think it would be easy to plop in front of the television or scroll through social media. Which isn’t about doing something active. Her list is about doing things, experiencing things, and if you use reading not to do things, then I can see the point of this exercise. But my days as a stay at home and homeschooling parent are filled with the sort of “doing” she lists. We paint, we putter in the garden, we do math and science and read. We dance and sew. And in the evenings, after all that, I write. Only after the day’s work has been done, do I read. So, I don’t know, if you’re like me, maybe this won’t do much for you. This is just something to think about.
Tasks, lots of good stuff here. Number four reminds me so much of Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own.” If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to do so. Also, I’m trying not to laugh at number seven. A “small vacation” isn’t happening right now.
So that’s it from me today. If you have any questions about creativity you’d like me to address, post a comment over at my blog, freethoughtblogs.com/freethinkingahead
Thanks for listening to Creativity for Skeptics. For more information about the show or to listen to past episodes, go to creativityforskeptics.com. We’ll talk creativity again soon.