25 September 2010

Becoming Creative

I'm taking a 12-week class on the book "The Artist's Way" at church. Everyone I tell says "Ooh, The Artist's Way is WONDERFUL."

I have had the book forever and have never gotten through it because that's the kind of person I am. The kind of person who buys self-help books and doesn't get through them.

The Artist's Way is designed to help you get rid of artistic blocks. If your mom was mean to you and told you that your fingerpaintings were awful, then this is the class you should take.

Or if, when you sang "Leaving on a Jet Plane" for the third year in a row at the school talent show and the emcee hit you in the face with a pie (this happened at my high school. Not to me. But I know the pie thrower. And I kind of love that he did it. I mean, THREE YEARS? Same song? Come ON. Bring on the whipped cream.) and you have never sung again, then this is the class for you.

It helps you look at what is keeping you from being more artistic and it challenges you to work through those blocks.

One of the tools the book suggests you use is "the artist date." Once a week, you are supposed to spend at least an hour by yourself doing something inspirational.

The other main tool is "the morning pages," three pages of stream-of-consciousness you write every morning when you first wake up. I find this loathesome. I would rather not do it. Bu tyet I do it. I am good with assignment on deadline. It's like a reflex I learned from newspapering. I think the morning pages may be doing me some good, but I can't pin an ROI on it just yet.

(That's a work joke. At work we are always looking for the ROI - return on investment. My boss said thoughtfully one day "You know, there's really no ROI on having kids").

We have class once a week in the fellowship hall at church, about 20 of us. We do a lot of guided meditations. I hate guided meditations. Always have. I figure that I wanted someone to tell me what to think, I would join the Nazi party.

Instead, I spend the meditation time making lists in my head. "Hmmm...laundry, bathe dog, clean the mold out of the shower, mail the cell phone bill, send a thank-you note to Liz..."

Meanwhile everyone else seems to be meditating intensely and following a sparkly unicorn down a path to CreativeLand or something. I don't know - I just know I can't do it. I belong to the rebel forces. The Mental Rebel forces.

The artist date is no joy for me, either. "Do something by yourself" is supposed to be all revolutionary and Room of Your Own-ish, but for me, it is just standard operating procedure. I do stuff by myself ALL the time.

You know what would be unique and inspirational? If I actually picked up the phone and organized something with a friend. Maybe that will be my Mental Rebel Forces (TOTALLY the name of my new band) way of handling this assignment.

Julia Cameron, the author of "The Artist's Way," seems to think that the reason most people aren't artistic is that they have been oppressed and put-upon by other people. Neither of those things is true for me.

I'm realizing that I may not have a mental block about creativity. No one was mean to me. No one discouraged me. No one cruelly crushed my hopes. Nobody is sucking the time I have to be creative.

So I'm coming to the realization that I may have paid $150 to figure out that I am lazy and undisciplined. Next time I want to pay $150 to be reminded, I will take CC and Ish to a nice dinner and ask them to tell me honestly. They will be able to help.

On my artist date this week, I went to the local museum. Where I spent my time taking pictures of these things to prevent skateboarding. I have a whole Flickr set in case you ever wanted to look at lots of ways to prevent skateboarding. What can I say? Weird brain.


Suzanne said...

You know what stops me from being creative? Tiredness.

Aunt Snow said...

I think I bought that book and also let it sit around the house without doing anything from it for years. I think I sold it at a yard sale.

Anti-skateboarding thingies? Awesome. Can you imagine the work and research that might go into designing them? Love that you notice them.

Nance said...

Hey. I will open a PayPal account in order to be The One to remind you that you are Lazy and Undisciplined. And I'll do it for only a HUNDRED BUCKS. Period. Let me know. We can get it done by email, even. As often as you want.

Mignon said...

I'm not put-upon or crushed or anything, either. I think maybe those of us that aren't have very little motivation to prove ourselves. Maybe our Artists' Way should be a seminar in which a stern teacher-type tells us we won't amount to anything. And then puts us in left-handed desks and says, "Here's your assignment, but I don't expect you'll get it done in the next hour..." Boy, I'd write the shit out of something then.

Kizz said...

A spin doctor might then say that YOU are the person who is oppressing your creativity so your through line for working the book is to help yourself stop squelching yourself. You know?

I went through the book once. Well, through about 8 chapters of it, then I petered off. Think getting through it properly is on my Life List. I could do that this year.

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