March 4 2016

My path towards creative freedom

For the past six weeks I’ve been using the Artist’s Way’s 12 week self-guided course to finding my way back towards creativity. As a creative person, I have often found myself in creative slumps–writer’s block, artistic blocks, and/or just feeling blocked creatively in general. Some people call it procrastination, other’s attribute it to self-doubt, fear…Whatever you call it, I believe it all stems from the same place. A rose by any other name is still rose kind of thing.

For the past month I’ve been sick. It started with the whole sinus thing, then it was more like the flu, then full blown flu, then back to the sinus thing, and in between I ended up with a stomach bug. Perhaps it was the flu, but I think part of it was allergies, and I think another part of it was my body’s way of telling me to slow down and take better care of myself. To stop staying up so late and not getting enough sleep. To stop spreading myself so thin. To stop and take a look around me, to take in my surroundings. To stop and appreciate things. To take a look at what I was doing and re-evaluate how I was doing them.

After the period of forced rest because I was sick, which made me slow down and actually evaluate things, I realized I needed to organize the whole of my life. Not just my writing (my novel), or my desk, or my writing room, or my kitchen, or my bullet journal, but what I was doing, how I was doing it, and why. Truth is, I’m a creative clutter kind of person so the only things that are actually organized in my house are the things I don’t use that much: the dining room, for example, only the clutter had quickly spread to the dining room because I was sick and couldn’t clean and straighten up the way I normally do. I looked around my home, especially the places where I tend to linger, and low and behold I saw the wake of clutter I’d left behind.

The discarded coats hung on the backs of chairs, the pile of “art stuff” near where I sit on the couch, the stack of books on the (click)clack couch in my writing room, the mountain of clean laundry in the chair and in the basket in my living room that I haven’t felt like folding but I DID do the laundry…See where I’m going with this?

It was no wonder I felt blocked creatively. No amount of bullet journalling, planning, or even cleaning was going to unblock my creativity if I didn’t 1. Clean up the mess, 2. Work on getting better–getting well, 3. Stop procrastinating, and 4. Be accountable for not only my life, my creativity, but the mess.

One of the tasks during week 4 or week 5 was to let go of things, to purge things from your life that you don’t use, don’t wear, don’t need, are broken or don’t fit or are stained… I have been doing that bit by bit for the past few weeks, yet I was still holding on to some things. Now it stops. Today, as I look around at the wake of having been sick for a month and can honestly evaluate the mess and clutter that have been left lying around because I am the person who does the majority of housework, I am appalled. I am getting rid of SHIT today. Today I am going to hang up every single coat, fold and put the laundry away, clean off my dining room table (so I can actually see it–and it’s a gorgeous antique so what the hell was I thinking?), clean off the (click)clack couch and put away the books…

Don’t get me wrong. I did the dishes (most of the time) when I was sick, even if it was a day later. And I cleaned the bathroom every other day to get rid of the germs (I’m picky about keeping the bathroom clean), and I tried to keep the kitchen clean. But with three people sick in the house, and me being the only one home to clean, my husband and son still went to work (though my son did stay out a few days), it was up to me to do all the cleaning.

This is pretty much today’s morning pages, brought to you by a homemade white chocolate mocha (which is my favorite from Starbucks) and finally getting some energy back after getting some much needed sleep because my body protested and I fell asleep in the recliner around 7:30 PM and didn’t wake up until right at 6 AM.

 

 

February 13 2016

Working Towards Living a Creative Life

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(this was the info I found for it, it's Not My image... It came from Google...
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(this was the info I found for it, it’s Not My image… It
came from Google…

I’ve been sick for the past three weeks. The worst kind of cold/sinus/flu thing. I’m not well yet, but I feel better. Over the past few weeks there was little in the way of working on my novel in Scrivener. However, I worked on the novel in my writer journal. I worked on characters, plot, setting–I journaled about it. When I finally got back to writing I missed and was so excited to be back to writing. I felt guilt for not actively working on my novel.

I started my fourth week of the 12 week self-guided course from Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way.” So far the course is helping a great deal. Between the “morning pages,” the tasks, and the check-in’s, not to mention the artist date’s, I’m facing all kinds of things I had no idea were even issues, or that the issues were as bad as they are. I am filled with self-doubt. I self sabotage. I have writer impostor syndrome.

However, as I found my way through the “morning pages,” and went on my artist date’s, read the information…as well as working in my personal journal, my “art” journal (which is more of a sketch your life, illustrate your life, smash journal, etc), and my writer-ly journal I found myself being more and more creative, wanting to be more creative even if I couldn’t manage to do as much as I wanted to do because I was sick–I made a new list of things I’d like to accomplish over the next few months: DIY projects around the house and yard, urban sketching, poetry workshop, plotting workshop, making my journaling work for me in a better way, in a more productive, creative way.

embrace struggleJournaling helps me me in ways I wouldn’t have imagined. Things are more vibrant and positive. I’m more passionate about life, my pursuits, relationships, and I’m more open. My communication skills are improving. The more I work through the Artist’s Way course, the more in depth my creativity becomes, the more open I am to figuring out why I have so much self-doubt, why I sabotage myself,  and how I can fix it. Working on the self-doubt isn’t easy, it means facing things that are painful. Insecurities. Memories. Fears. And working through those takes courage, but it’s worth it. I find myself procrastinating. I get distracted. I make excuses. Reluctantly I find myself avoiding my writing, or my art, because I’m afraid that it won’t be good enough. Perfectionism. What if it sucks? What if my beta readers laugh? What if I’m really not that talented? Maybe I should just give up now before I embarrass myself. But as the words flow onto the page in my journal I find myself more and more open to the possibility that perhaps it’s just the fear and the insecurity that are causing me to have so much self-doubt, or to feel the self-doubt to begin with, or that I’m procrastinating and self-sabotaging because of fear. Plain and simple.

These insights into my creativity, or lack thereof,  are a start. A start to opening the door to living a more creative life, to being successful in my creative pursuits, and to opening myself up to being successful in my creative pursuits. I knew I had a few issues because of the self-doubt,  writer’s block, procrastination, and yet I didn’t think it was as bad as it was until I began reading the “Artist’sWay.”  As hard as it was to sit down every morning, in the beginning, and work on my morning pages it made me see how important it was to be open, to let the words flow. I also realized that the resistance was because of fear–insecurities are rooted in fears. I’m not really a fearful person. Even when I am I sort of “fake it till I make it kind of thing.” You can only do that with writing for so long before the insecurities/self-doubt eat you and end up with writer’s block–at least, that’s what I’ve experienced. Facing the resistance head on isn’t something I’ve done in my morning pages, the morning pages are just about being honest with myself, but I have been facing those fears, insecurities, and self-doubts in my personal journal.

The Writer's Life
The Writer’s Life

When you think about it, really think about it, the procrastination, self-doubts, insecurities, perfectionism, and avoidance are all about fear, based on fear. I’m not a fearful person at heart though, I’m more of a sassy, feisty, stubborn, determined, and resilient kind of person. So I buckled down and wrote it all out in my journal. I wrote and wrote and wrote, honestly and openly about my fears. Facing some of those fears gave me insight, but it didn’t fix the problem, but it did make me realize and understand that I’m the only one holding me back. I am the only one who can do something about it. I decided to take mini-artist dates, do little things to make me feel good and be more open to being creative. For example, I went outside with my cup of coffee and a book of poetry and read for 15 minutes, I went outside with my coffee and my sketchbook and had some fun, I went to my hair stylist and had my hair done (washed and styled), I ordered myself a few cute little diary stickers and 2 new watercolor inserts for my TN (Traveler’s Notebook), as well as a cute little magnetic bookmark with a coffee theme. (I also ordered one for my daughter with a unicorn on it, she’s an artist and a welder, as well as being a single mom who suffers from depression and like me, she suffers from self-doubt at times.) Twice a week, on the first day of the new week of the self-guided course and halfway through the week I go on an artist date and take myself to Starbucks. One of those dates I journal and the other day I draw and watercolor. I love watercolors. I love journaling. So I’ve decided to combine the two and try doing what people are calling “Urban Sketching,” or “Illustrate your life,” or “Sketch your life.” It makes me feel really good when I do that. I don’t make my artist dates about my novel, I make them about something else creative. The more creative I am, the more I want to write, the more I feel able to write and less self-doubty.

I’m amazed at how much it has actually helped me with the writing.

 

January 27 2016

Choosing to live… creatively

Since I started re-reading the Artist’s Way last week, several other things have come up that have shown me that starting the 12 week process is the right decision.

embrace struggle

Living creatively is and isn’t a choice, at least to me that’s how it feels. I am a creative person. Being creative, whether it’s DIY home projects, writing, creating art, journaling, art journaling, scrapbooking, poetry, reading, or photography is just who, what, and how I am. It’s a big part of how I’m wired.

As an INFP, I’m optimistic, open-minded, empathic, creative, introverted, passionate, enthusiastic (especially about creative things), resilient, dedicated, and intuitive, but I’m also too idealistic, impractical, too altruistic, I often don’t see the forest for the trees, I take things too personal, and I’m reserved, cautious, and self-conscious, which makes me hard to get to know.  I was born to be a writer, a creative person, some type of artist. I was born to help others. At least, that’s how it feels to me. Yet I know, now, that I tend to over extend myself. I tend to get overwhelmed and stressed out–and I do that to myself, usually.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

All of these things are part of why I made the decision to start the Artist’s Way 12 week “program” again. After my video went up about what I’m doing and why I got several comments. The response the video touched me and I thought, “Burgess, it’s time to do a giveaway. And you’re going to give the Artist’s Way to someone. So this Friday I’m going to draw one of the names from the people who responded to my video about the giveaway and send that person their very own copy of the Artist’s Way.

I’m going through a few things right now, one of which is being SICK! I feel like Death came calling and instead of taking me She just touched me with her Sickle and said, “Nope, just wanted you to see how it feels to be Death for a while.” Two, finding balance in your life is hard. No matter how much I try to take my writing seriously, so that others will as well, someone or something always tends to say or do something, or something happens, that makes me question it. It’s not a “real job,” or “writing/art isn’t going to pay the bills/isn’t paying the bills,” or “since you’re not working, could you…”. Then the negativity I already feel, the self-doubt and lack of self confidence rears its ugly head even higher and just laughs at me, and I feel like giving up.

its impossible

Depression is an ugly beat. When combined with anxiety it’s even uglier. A depressed person helping a depressed person is like the blind leading the blind. An anxious person with depression helping someone else who also has anxiety and depression–I’m not sure of what to say about that… I do know that I have to take a step back from the negativity, and be my own authentic self, and stop letting the anxiety, self-doubt, insecurities, and other things rule my life. It’s time to me to choose to live my life creatively, to live my own life, to stop people pleasing, to stop doubting myself and hold my head up high, and to take the bull by the horns and say, “I got this shit!”

I’m a writer. I have a real job, even if I don’t get paid for it yet. I am working on my novel. I am also living my life creatively. I spent over twenty years working in a field I hated but paid the bills and helped me provide for my children. Now that I don’t have to do that, I’m finally doing what I was meant to do. I’m probably going back to college, hopefully this summer.

It’s going to be hard, especially adjusting to all the changes, and for the people in my life to adjust to all the changes, but I have to do what is best for me.

Trust your own madness

Category: Anxiety, Around Here, Creativity, Family, Goals, Life, Living a Creative Life, Self-Doubt, The Artist's Way, Writing | Comments Off on Choosing to live… creatively