Hello! Christine here! Welcome back to LADY GETS LIT!
First off, let me just apologize for having been so absent over the past couple of weeks. Turns out that starting back at my old job has been more of a transition than I wanted to admit. I’ve been adjusting to the sleep schedule, actually working closer to full-time hours, the sheer amount of energy I have to expend in any given shift… so needless to say, my blogging time has really slipped through the cracks.
But I’m here now, bringing you a very special post: the wrap-up to my collaborative blog series with Erin @ Flappers and Philosophers!
ICYMI, here’s the intro post, explaining why we decided to do this project and what The Artist’s Way is all about. But here’s the TL;DR: The Artist’s Way is a book and creative recovery journey by Julia Cameron. Throughout the 12-week process, participants undergo a kind of spiritual journey toward letting to of what’s keeping them blocked and getting back to the heart of their creative self. If you want to journey back through my previous posts in the journey, please do!
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.Semisonic, “Closing Time”
I’ve been putting off writing this post for weeks now. Actually, it’s the whole reason I neglected to even write my Week 12 Check-In, although I did journal about it in my morning pages. I wasn’t ready for The Artist’s Way to be over. To be quite honest, having committed to this project is the one thing that kept me blogging over the last couple of months.
If I had to sum up the Artist’s Way in only a few words, for someone who’s never heard of it, much less gone on the journey, I would have to say this: The Artist’s Way isn’t a 12-week journey—it’s a lifelong journey.
Since this is my second time going through the 12-week process, I thought I’d share a little bit of what I’ve learned, what major shifts have occurred in my life over the past few months, and where I hope I’m headed next.
I began to take what’s working and leave what’s not.
Perhaps the simplest, but most important aspect of The Artist’s Way journey is learning to listen to yourself. It sounds like it would be incredibly easy, but the truth is that we are all influenced by external voices that tell us what we “should” be or do, how we “should” create—namely, that we shouldn’t create at all, unless it’s just a hobby.
The hardest part of the process, for me, is committing to doing Artist Dates, weekly adventures alone with yourself where you explore what your inner artist child needs and wants to do. I’m certainly not afraid of being alone, but I definitely don’t invest enough time in letting myself play, which is ultimately what creative recovery is all about.
Throughout the process, though, I learned to let go of things that are no longer serving me, whether it’s a job, a toxic friendship, a set of feelings about a situation, or even a story idea. Through listening to myself (especially through morning pages), I learned to listen to what I need and act accordingly—even if it means hurting someone else’s feelings by not living up to their expectations for me.
I acknowledged that I am a workaholic, just not in the traditional sense.
If you’ve followed my weekly updates, you know that I finally acknowledged the reality that I turn everything—including this blog—into work when it doesn’t have to be.
Because I’m addicted to feeling like I’m a productive citizen of my capitalist society, I let everything come before my right to play at writing. My need to feel productive not only keeps me from doing the self-care I need in order to be a happy and healthy person, but it also contributes to all the ways I sell myself short when it comes to my writing.
This is something I’m probably going to have to work through for quite some time. I will not say that I’ve mastered it, but I’ve done the hardest thing, which is becoming aware.
I began to re-frame my idea of what spirituality means.
Since growing up and abandoning my Christian faith, I’ve really struggled to have any God concept at all. Doing the Artist’s Way forced me to confront the reasons I’m so dead set on believing there is no god, and thus started me on the path to exploring what having faith in something beyond humanity would look like, for me specifically.
I won’t say that I’ve suddenly become religious; that’s not realistic, and honestly it’s just not me. But I’ve definitely started to open myself up to the possibility that I’m not in this alone, that maybe the Universe is looking out for me in whatever sense, and wants me to succeed and be happy.
I’ve started noticing all the tiny ways that things work out the way they need to (even when they don’t work out the way I want them to). I’ve re-committed myself to yoga and meditation, because I recognize that the most important thing I can do is be present with what is in each moment. Most importantly, I am open to that which is currently beyond my own understanding.
I’ve re-imagined what it means to be a writer, and what writing looks like in my life.
I’ve always been a writer, as long as I can remember, and I’ve been actively writing fiction for more than half my life at this point. That being said, I’ve always (but especially lately) put too much emphasis on quantifying my writing in ways that are ultimately really constricting.
As a writer, I feel the need to prove to the non-writing world just how much of a writer I am. It’s not enough to show up to the page each day and make something; I feel like I need to be able to show something of myself. It’s one of the draws to blogging, and it’s the reason I tend to record my weekly and monthly word counts—because if I can’t show something of my writing, am I really writing?
Doing the Artist’s Way this time around forced me to confront the ways I’ve turned writing—my passion—into work. Yes, there are aspects of writing novels that are damn hard…but it’s not supposed to be work all the time. If I’m not using my writing time as play time, as an exploration of who I am and how I’m feeling, and then turning that into a story, then what the hell is the point? If writing isn’t fulfilling on an deep internal level, there’s no point.
So I’m re-framing the way I look at writing. Instead of keeping track of word count, I’ve been clocking hours spent on my craft. Instead of only counting the hours I spend actively writing at my WIP, I’m tallying up time spent doing morning pages, time spent outlining or working on my plot, even time spent hashing out the story with a friend. Hell, I’m even counting the Artist Date I took this week—because moments I spend nurturing my inner artist are important steps toward becoming the artist I want to be.
I am actively working on letting go of my constant anxiety about time.
I turned 29 during this go round with the Artist’s Way, and it really hit me like a ton of bricks. At 29, I feel like I should have more of my life together than I actually do. As a kid, I imagined that I’d already be published by now. It’s only as I’ve gotten older that I’ve realized just how long a process it is to become who you are meant to be—as a writer, but also as a human.
I am still figuring out who I am. I know I’m a writer, that I’m meant to create in that way, but I don’t know what that will look like five or ten years from now. I don’t know where I’ll be living, who my closest friends will be, whether I’ll still be blogging even six months from now. Hell, I don’t even know what I want this blog to look like next week, much less a year from now.
And I’m okay with all of that. The idea that I should have my life together, especially as a writer, is based on a false calculation of my own trajectory as a person, based on other people’s idea of what I should be. The truth is, I’m meant to still be figuring it out, because as a writer, I’m really only just now hitting the puberty stage.
The only way I can continue to grow is if I remain open to the fact that I’m still figuring it all out, and trust that I’m on the right track toward doing so, eventually. I can only grow when I’m open to the reality that I will never really be done growing. I can only change when I’m open to whatever life brings.
TL;DR: What’s Next?
I’ve been really struggling with what to do about this blog lately.
On the one hand, I’m not really motivated to be a book blogger in the “traditional” sense. I haven’t felt like writing reviews, even though I’ve been reading some incredible books lately. I don’t have the emotional energy to blog hop the way I know I “should” if I want to grow my blog.
But on the other hand, I don’t relish the thought of giving up on blogging yet again.
So I’ll be here, at least every once in a while. At the beginning of this year, I promised myself I would post twice a month, and I think that’s a completely reasonable goal.
I want to use the coming weeks as an opportunity to explore my blogging voice, writing the posts I’m drawn to write, and interacting when I have the energy to really connect with other bloggers.
Maybe I will never be a big influencer in the blogosphere; maybe my blog will remain difficult to categorize; maybe I won’t get as many ARCs as I once did. I am okay with all of this.
I’d rather stay quiet and invisible while being myself than try to live up to someone else’s idea of success.