The Artist’s Way: Week 11 Check-In

Welcome to Week 11 of my ongoing series on The Artist’s Way with Erin @ Flappers and Philosophers!

Erin and I are both going through The Artist’s Way, a 12-week course in self-discovery and creative recovery. Throughout the next three months, we’ll be sharing weekly updates on how it’s going, what we’ve learned, and how this process has affected our creative lives.

The Artist’s Way Week 11: Recovering a Sense of Autonomy

For me, Week 11 was about taking stock: where am I now, compared to where I was a few short weeks ago? Where am I planning to go? And how am I going to get there?

Because I’m so hard on myself, I often lose sight of what I’ve actually accomplished. This week, I made a list of the changes I’ve made—and the ones that seem to have happened through serendipity—since starting this journey. Surprisingly, a lot has changed, even though many of the changes are small ones. I’m learning to listen to what I need and leave behind things that aren’t serving me anymore. Even though I still struggle with being a workaholic, I’m working on being better about this. I’m working on accepting myself as a work in progress.

Week 11 Check-In

How many days this week did you do your morning pages? How was the experience for you? Have you recommended morning pages to anyone else? Why?

I’ve continued to stay true to my morning pages. I definitely don’t hit the three page mark, but I show up every single morning, regardless of how little I feel I have to say. I’m also re-framing how I look at pages; rather than just a great way to do self-care, I see the pages as an important part of my creative life. Even if I don’t have time to write fiction that day, writing morning pages is better than not writing at all. I’m exercising the muscle, and that’s what matters.

As I’ve continued to read over previous weeks’ morning pages, I’ve realized that I generally have the answer to my own problems…I just have to actually take action toward those solutions. I’ve begun to talk more openly about the power of morning pages in my life. When I’m asked to do anything in the morning hours, I speak up about needing time for the pages first. Even though I’m working earlier now, I still get up with at least half an hour to write first. It’s hard, but it’s worth it.

Did you do your artist date this week? (Have you considered scheduling an entire artist’s day? Whew!) What did you do? How did it feel?

Although I spent a lot of time alone with myself this week, I didn’t necessarily take a specific artist date. I tend to utilize my days off from work to “get things done” in the rest of my life. I can’t actually fathom taking an entire day as an artist date—but maybe that’s something I need to plan in the weeks to come. Maybe I owe that to myself.

Did you experience any synchronicity this week? What was it?

As I read over my morning pages, I discover moments when it seems like everything lined up to meet my needs. When I wrote about my job frustration and promised the Universe that I would do the work to solve my problem, the Universe gave me the answer I needed (even if it wasn’t 100% what I wanted).

Funny enough, I wrote about how I long for more writer friends, and an old friend of mine reached out. She asked if I wanted to be writing accountability partners and have weekly coffee dates to encourage each other’s creativity. And even though I don’t believe in some all-powerful force, I do believe that sometimes, when I put positive energy into the world and ask for help, it appears.

Were there any other issues this week that you consider significant for your recovery? Describe them.

I’m still working (heh) through my workaholism. I know this isn’t going to be an overnight thing. I’ve started forcing myself to take a break at night and just watching something on Netflix instead of forcing myself to keep reading until my eyes close on themselves. I’m trying to be kinder to myself, but it’s weirdly hard. This will be my big project going forward, even after I’m “finished” with The Artist’s Way.

Have you ever participated in The Artist’s Way? How was your week? Let me know in the comments, and that’s for stopping by! Until next time,

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The Artist’s Way: Week 10 Check-In

Welcome to Week 11 of my ongoing series on The Artist’s Way with Erin @ Flappers and Philosophers!

Erin and I are both going through The Artist’s Way, a 12-week course in self-discovery and creative recovery. Throughout the next three months, we’ll be sharing weekly updates on how it’s going, what we’ve learned, and how this process has affected our creative lives.

Week 10: Recovering a Sense of Self-Protection

This week, for me at least, was about being brutally honest with myself—especially in regards to what I allow to come between me and my art.

For the first time, I recognized that I’m a workaholic, but not in the traditional sense. See, I let anything and everything become “work” to me in order to avoid giving myself time to play, creatively.

I use my most energetic hours to do things I “need” to do, which leaves me too drained to spend much time on creativity. I feel the need to justify the time I spend on things that bring me joy, like reading and writing, and then I define my sense of self-worth by my ability to produce. But the fact is, there are aspects of creativity that don’t produce anything, and those things are just as important.

This week was really impactful for me in the smallest of ways. I’m forging new, better habits surrounding how I look at work, and hopefully that will pay off in the coming weeks and months.

Week 10: The Check-In

How many days this week did you do your morning pages? Has reading your pages changed your writing? Are you still allowing yourself to write them freely?

I did the pages 7 days this week, but I’m really averaging more like 2 pages a day rather than 3. While I’d like to write more, I also recognize that I’m still showing up, which is better than abandoning it entirely. I definitely keep discovering new things about my creative process through writing the pages, which is what matters. I’m becoming more and more comfortable with writing about the things I would normally repress—like the fact that I’m a workaholic.

Did you do your artist date this week? What did you do? How did it feel?

I skimped out on my artist date again. Instead of doing something completely unproductive and fun, I went to the library to work on my AW tasks. I didn’t really let myself play like I wanted to. To be quite honest, I’ve been very distractible lately (I blame Gemini season; it always does a number on me). I need to look back over my list of things my artist child wants to do, and then actually do these things.

Did you experience any synchronicity this week? What was it?

By accident, I ended up with a whole week off between quitting my old job and starting my new one. While this should make me nervous financially, I’ve determined to use the extra time to spend with my artist child, doing things I love doing, and writing.

Were there any other issues this week that you consider significant for your recovery? Describe them.

My main issue right now: what to do about the fact that I am truly a workaholic.

For example, over the past few months, I’ve turned this blog into an obligation, a thing I “have” to do, rather than a hobby I enjoy doing. Sure, there are aspects of blogging that I love—writing discussion posts, and getting to share my thoughts with other bloggers through comments. But there is so much more to blogging than just the parts that I love, and I somehow make the “work” parts of blogging more important. Yes, it’s nice to have neatly organized posts with clever graphics, but isn’t the content the most important part? Why do I allow the process of organizing and scheduling posts become more important than anything else? These are issues I want to continue to work through in the coming weeks.

Have you ever participated in The Artist’s Way? How was your week? Let me know in the comments, and that’s for stopping by! Until next time,

The Artist’s Way: Week 9 Check-In

Welcome to Week 11 of my ongoing series on The Artist’s Way with Erin @ Flappers and Philosophers!

Erin and I are both going through The Artist’s Way, a 12-week course in self-discovery and creative recovery. Throughout the next three months, we’ll be sharing weekly updates on how it’s going, what we’ve learned, and how this process has affected our creative lives.

Week 9 focuses on Recovering a Sense of Compassion.

Obviously, this week was a bit rough for me; as I’ve discussed in previous Artist’s Way posts, it’s really hard for me to be compassionate with myself. One thing that helps seems to be treating my artistic self as a distinct, almost separate part of me. It sounds like psychobabble, but it’s a lot easier for me to be kinder to my so-called Artist Child when I see her as a separate entity, a child in need of my compassion.

Week 9 teaches us to focus on our Creative U-Turns, those moments when we abandoned a project or creative pursuit out of fear of failure (or fear of success). Julia Cameron teaches the art of being compassionate toward our past mistakes, particularly ones where we’ve set impossible goals for ourselves in order to justify our artistic life.

“The only cure for fear is love.”

Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

Week 9 Check-In

How many days this week did you do your morning pages? Regarding your U-turns, have you allowed yourself a shift toward compassion, at least on the page?

I continued to do daily morning pages this week, although I’ve begun to fall off on actual page count. During the beginning of the Artist’s Way journey, I definitely felt like I needed the pages more. I had a lot to work through, a lot of actions I needed to take. Lately, though, I feel like things are slowly coming together; maybe it seems like I have less to say. Then again, I was also nearing the end of a giant spiral notebook this week, which usually inspires a sense of impatience in my journaling.

Regarding Creative U-turns: I’m working on self-forgiveness. I’ve taken a lot of wrong turns that I’m not necessarily proud of, but I’m also aware that each of these U-turns led me to the place I am now, which is exactly where I need to be. My biggest U-turns: giving up on revising my own work and jumping onto the next project out of fear of failure. So I’m working on developing hope for the future, but it’s admittedly slow going.

Did you do your artist date this week? Have you kept the emphasis on fun? What did you do? How did it feel?

To be quite honest, I almost forgot to do my artist date this week. It’s so much easier for me to focus on everything else I need to get done—tedious adulting tasks, cleaning, going to work, writing blog posts, working on my novel draft… but it’s a lot harder for me to purposefully take time to have fun. I stumbled into an artist date on Friday when I went to my favorite coffee shop again. I treated myself to a CBD latte and spent some time working on AW tasks—necessary reflection. Next week, I hope to plan my artist date as a priority, not an afterthought.

Did you experience any synchronicity this week? What was it?

I got to talk with one of my good friends whom I hadn’t seen in a while. This friend is someone who’s incredibly compassionate and caring and inspires me to be compassionate with myself. I let her take a look at the first chapter of my novel and she was so incredibly supportive. It reminded me that I don’t have to hide who I am, that I can share myself with people who believe in me. It also reminded me to treasure the friends I have who believe in my magic. I need them.

Were there any other issues this week that you consider significant for your recovery? Describe them.

The biggest issue I’m having right now is, unsurprisingly, time management. I’ve been trying to do blog hopping on my lunch break at work, which is really only so helpful. I’m starting to become concerned, because I’m working half the hours that I’ll be working in the not-so-distant future. I’ve been keeping a time log, but going forward I’m going to indicate the type of activity—whether it’s self-care, work-related, creative playtime, etc. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks I can become aware of where my time is going and reallocate some time to what matters.

Have you ever participated in The Artist’s Way? How was your week? Let me know in the comments, and that’s for stopping by! Until next time,

The Artist’s Way: Week 8 Check-In

Welcome to Week 11 of my ongoing series on The Artist’s Way with Erin @ Flappers and Philosophers!

Erin and I are both going through The Artist’s Way, a 12-week course in self-discovery and creative recovery. Throughout the next three months, we’ll be sharing weekly updates on how it’s going, what we’ve learned, and how this process has affected our creative lives.

Week 8 of the Artist’s Way is all about Recovering a Sense of Strength.

Through the tasks, we’re encouraged to reframe artistic loss as potential gain by asking what the next step is.

This is something I’m deeply familiar with. I feel like every time I finish drafting a novel, I’m faced with the reality of how much work the draft needs in order to be what I want it to be. I attempt to revise the work to make it better, but I’m overwhelmed with self-criticism. I rarely make much progress before I give up, acknowledging that some projects are better left as they are.

Instead of being self-critical, the Artist’s Way encourages us to be more gentle with our artist self. When faced with an artistic loss, we’re need to immediately take one small action to support our artist.

As I’ve mentioned before, doing nice things for myself is really difficult for me. So I’ve started each day’s morning pages by recording one nice thing I do for myself and one thing I accomplished that makes me feel proud.

Week 8 – The Check In

How many days this week did you do your morning pages? (Have you been very tempted to abandon them?) How was the experience for you?

I did the pages all 7 days this week, but I’ve begun to fall off when it comes to page numbers. Some days it feels like I have more to say than others. My time feels like it’s stretched incredibly thin, and I don’t seem to have enough time to do everything I want to do. The first thing I’m tempted to let slip through the cracks: self-care.

I know that yoga, meditation, and morning pages are the things that keep me grounded, the routine that sets me up for success in whatever I hope to accomplish that day. Still, I’m tempted to rush through these things, so I’m not really getting the benefits. I need to work on believing that self-care is my #1 priority.

Did you do your artist date this week? (Have you been allowing workaholism or other commitments to sabotage this practice?) What did you do? How did it feel?

This week I went to my local secondhand bookstore. I un-hauled a bunch of books that I was never going to actually read, or books that I’d read and didn’t need to keep around for any reason. While I was there, I wandered the shelves and soaked up the smell of old books and just generally had a great time. I did end up coming home with some new books—all nonfiction, because I’m trying (slowly) to get back into reading nonfiction. This artist date reminded me that bookstores and libraries are a sacred space to me—which is all the more reason I realized I need to quit my current job…

Did you experience any synchronicity this week? What was it?

My synchronicity is a bit weird, but it still feels like the Universe at work.

Last year, while doing the Artist’s Way the first time, I was really struggling with my job. I was frustrated with the managers I ended up working with; I was exhausted from always working at 5am; and I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Through morning pages and other AW tasks, I realized I needed to find a new job. I stumbled into my current job at Barnes & Noble through a little bit of faith. Even though it’s technically only part time, I felt encouraged to do the right thing for my mental health, so I ended up quitting my former job.

Now, not quite a year later, I’m going the opposite direction, and it feels very strange. On the one hand, I’m backsliding into my old job and leaving my bookselling days behind me. On the other hand, I need to make more money. If I’m barely able to pay my bills, I’m not going to be able to put energy toward my writing, and I’m not going to be able to treat my artist child the way she deserves to be treated.

Were there any other issues this week that you consider significant for your recovery? Describe them.

Time still feels like my biggest issue, which is strange considering I’m barely working 20 hours a week right now. I never seem to have enough time to write, and I’m falling behind on blog hopping and even on writing posts (I skipped writing a review this week, in case anyone noticed). So going forward, I want to keep track of my time spent on various tasks and see where I’m losing time to things that aren’t important. I’m also reworking how I prioritized daily tasks in my bullet journal.

Have you ever participated in The Artist’s Way? How was your week? Let me know in the comments, and that’s for stopping by! Until next time,

Artist’s Way: Week 7 Check-In

Welcome to Week 11 of my ongoing series on The Artist’s Way with Erin @ Flappers and Philosophers!

Erin and I are both going through The Artist’s Way, a 12-week course in self-discovery and creative recovery. Throughout the next three months, we’ll be sharing weekly updates on how it’s going, what we’ve learned, and how this process has affected our creative lives.

Week 7 focuses on Recovering A Sense of Connection.

In this week’s chapter, Julia Cameron talks a lot about creating the right attitude for creativity. So often as artists, we’re incredibly hard on ourselves; we expect perfection on the first try, when part of being an artist is learning to play. We also tend to become jealous of other artists because we mistakenly believe that there’s not room for all creatives to live and achieve success.

This week’s tasks focus on self-care, which is exactly what I needed. It’s hard for me to take care of myself, to do nice things for myself without coming up with some excuse. I never feel that I deserve nice things, and that’s something the artist’s way has reminded me to work on in my morning pages.

Week 7: The Check-In

How many days this week did you do your morning pages? Have you allowed yourself to daydream a few creative risks? Are you coddling your artist child with childhood loves?

While I’ve continued with daily morning pages, I definitely need to use them more effectively to tap into my daydreams. I’m great at listening to my logic self, but not great at letting my artist child speak to me. I know that I need to do more nice things for myself, that I need to be generous with myself in order to grow. It’s just…hard to overcome my inner critic that says I don’t deserve anything nice. Because Depression.

Did you do your artist date this week? Did you use it to take any risks? What did you do? How did it feel?

I finally did a real and unproductive artist date! There’s a park in my neighborhood, so I walked through the park and did some mild exploring in the woods surrounding it. As I walked, I listened to the playlist I made for my WIP and thought about my characters. I hope to revisit this kind of artist date soon, as it was both relaxing and inspiring. I also really want to find a good climbing tree—my artist child really wants to climb a tree with a book, like old times.

Did you experience any synchronicity this week? What was it?

If I did, I didn’t recognize it when it happened. Sometimes it’s easier for me to see synchronicity in hindsight, especially when I read back over my journals. Right now, though, I’m not supposed to be reading my morning pages.

Were there any other issues this week that you consider significant for your recovery? Describe them.

For some reason, I was really busy this week, and I ended up neglecting most of my artist’s way tasks this week—which is pretty telling considering each task basically amounts to self-care. However, I did finally address a major issue I discovered through morning pages; it’s an issue I’d been putting off taking action toward, and I finally bit the bullet this week.

Have you ever participated in The Artist’s Way? How was your week? Let me know in the comments, and that’s for stopping by! Until next time,

The Artist’s Way: Week 6 Check-In

Welcome to Week 11 of my ongoing series on The Artist’s Way with Erin @ Flappers and Philosophers!

Erin and I are both going through The Artist’s Way, a 12-week course in self-discovery and creative recovery. Throughout the next three months, we’ll be sharing weekly updates on how it’s going, what we’ve learned, and how this process has affected our creative lives.

Week 6 was a rough one for me.

The theme—Recovering a Sense of Abundance—is one that I really struggle with. At the risk of getting incredibly personal, I inherited a sense that all that God/the Universe provides must be earned or paid for in some fashion. Believing in a God of abundance is something that it may take a long time for me to wrap my head around, but I’m willing to try.

Week 6: The Check-In

1. How many days this week did you do your morning pages? How was the experience for you?

I stuck to the morning pages like glue this week. I’ve reached the point where they are completely habitual. I need the pages to keep me sane. Of course, I’ve always been a journal-writer by nature, but sitting down to write three pages each morning really serves to keep me on track toward my goals. I don’t care as much about how repetitive I am these days. I’m just focusing on showing up and letting the Universe do the rest of the work.

2. Did you do your artist date this week? What did you do? How did it feel?

I really wanted to take a true artist date this week, but I defaulted to my working artist date at one of my favorite coffee shops. I intended to only stay for an hour or so to catch up on some blogging work, but right at the point I wanted to leave it started absolutely pouring outside, so I stayed.

It felt really good to catch up on blogging (finally)—it reminded me why I really do enjoy this silly hobby of mine, even when it’s writing about my personal musings as opposed to anything remotely bookish. Still, next week I hope to prioritize play time, as opposed to defaulting to a working date with myself.

3. Did you experience any synchronicity this week? Describe it.

One of the things I’ve discovered through my morning pages is that I’m really dissatisfied with my job at the moment. I love the job itself, but I’m not getting enough hours, and the pay is so low. I’m making less money than I’ve made since undergrad, when I was working less than 20 hours a week at minimum wage.

So this week, I applied to a job at a local coffee shop. I don’t know if I’ll get the job or not, but I’m proud of myself for putting my hopes out into the world. Even if I don’t get the job, I’ve learned that I am not trapped where I am, which is an important reminder.

4. Were there any other issues this week that you consider significant for your recovery? Describe them.

On the bright side: I met my word count goal for April, coming in at just over 25K for the month. Granted, it’s a flaming trash heap of a shit draft right now…which is what I’m planning on working on in May. More on that in future posts.

On the not-so-bright side: On Tuesday morning, I suffered a debilitating back spasm. I have scoliosis in two places, and my lower back tends to give me a lot of problems. On Monday, I was doing a lot of shifting of really heavy books at work, and I think that just sent me over the edge.

The back pain definitely put a damper on my week. I’d planned on doing all these fun things for the artist’s way, namely taking a long walk, but by Wednesday morning I could hardly walk without being in pain. I ended up calling out of work for the first time since winter of 2014, when I had the flu and a temperature of 102. That being said, my back problems served to remind me that I’ve been too hard on myself lately. Taking the day off of work reminded me the importance of focusing on self-care.

Have you ever participated in The Artist’s Way? How was your week? Let me know in the comments, and that’s for stopping by! Until next time,

The Artist’s Way: Week 5 Check-In

Welcome to Week 11 of my ongoing series on The Artist’s Way with Erin @ Flappers and Philosophers!

Erin and I are both going through The Artist’s Way, a 12-week course in self-discovery and creative recovery. Throughout the next three months, we’ll be sharing weekly updates on how it’s going, what we’ve learned, and how this process has affected our creative lives.

Week 5 was a week of…adjustments.

After taking a week off of reading (and blogging), I found myself struggling to get back into the routine of my normal reading life. Taking a week off gave me a lot of clarity about my goals.

This week’s theme was Recovering A Sense of Possibility—which is surprisingly hard for me. I have a hard time believing that my creative dreams are possible, mostly because I’ve spent most of my life being told “no” by authority, society, family, etc. I tried to focus my creative life on one of my favorite quotes:

“Pray to catch the bus, then run as fast as you can. […]But first you must believe that [you] are allowed to catch the bus.”

Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

I did a lot of reflection this week about what my major goals are right now. I’m trying to build a new habit of actually acknowledging what I’ve accomplished each day, instead of constantly building on my to-do list. I’m using my bullet journal to focus on three major tasks each day, rather than trying to do ALL THE THINGS. And while none of this sounds like it’s related to doing The Artist’s Way, it totally is.

Week 5: The Check-In

How many days this week did you do your morning pages? How was the experience for you?

I did morning pages 7 days this week. I tried to add in a second step—recording my concerns and worries in evening pages, then re-evaluating in the morning—but I only managed this a couple of times.

I’m definitely starting to get in the zone with morning pages, although it’s definitely helped that the pages are part of my overall morning routine that I’ve been building over the past few weeks. I don’t dread the pages anymore; in fact, I quite look forward to getting to sit down and reflect for a whole half hour every day.

The page-and-a-half truth point is so real though. I always reach this point about halfway through doing pages where I discover the Real Thing I need to be writing about, the real problem I’m having, the thing I’m not acknowledging is a big issue for my recovery, the thing that’s holding me back from being my full self.

Did you do your artist date this week? What did you do? How did it feel?

This week, I went to my favorite coffee shop again to spend time with myself. Sundays have become a bit of a ritual: I go to a coffee shop with all my stuff and spend time writing and doing tasks for my creative recovery. And while this time is definitely valuable, I’ve yet to take an Artist Date that feels truly adventurous. It’s that time of year when I long to go outside, but I tend to hold myself back because I have too much to do.

Were there any other issues this week that you consider significant for your recovery? Did you experience any synchronicity this week? Describe them.

The biggest issue I’m having: I keep discovery situations or issues I need to deal with, but then not actually doing anything about them. I sometimes wonder if I wouldn’t benefit more from taking two weeks for each one week of the Artist’s Way; I need more time to process my discoveries, more time to actually make all these big changes that I can feel bubbling under the surface. It’s not like I can’t keep working on these things after completing the Artist’s Way journey, but I worry that I won’t keep remembering to make time to ponder what’s keeping me stuck.

Have you ever participated in The Artist’s Way? How was your week? Let me know in the comments, and that’s for stopping by! Until next time,