Failing The Artist’s Way – Week 1

My writing group is doing The Artist’s Way for the next 12 weeks and so far I am failing. The first order of business is to write “morning papers” which was no problem last week when the kids were off of school. This week, now that we have to get up at the crack of dawn, I am in no state to see, let alone write at 5:30am. Writing later in the morning seems to defeat the purpose which is to unload all those dumb things that bounce around your brain at night – the emails you still have to return, the checks you forgot to write, the things you need at the grocery store, what someone really meant by what they said at a party three weeks before… You get all this off your chest and that leaves you free to let come those creative juices.

OK, so fail. I need to find another time besides in bed to write my morning papers. Do they still work if I write them at 2:30 in the afternoon?

Next, I am meant to have an “Artist’s Date,” whereby I go out and get inspired. Art gallery, cool bookstore, museum. I was inspired at the shoe-repair shop yesterday. All those poor wads of leather crammed around the shop looking forlorn. It’s possible that I mistook the intoxicating smell of glue for inspiration. I do go to a coffee shop every Friday morning and sit with a die-hard group of writers and write. There, I am usually inspired. OK, so one point there. But wait, these excursions are meant to be done solo. Shoot. OK, scratch that. So really, its about claiming time for oneself. To find adventures. I do take myself to a movie from time to time. I walk the dog. I am thinking of doing another writing retreat. Surely these things count. I’m going to go ahead and give myself a half a point.

These things are simply the basic tools. Now comes Week 1. I am meant to record my negative “blurts” from my morning papers and convert them into positive affirmations. Uh. Well, OK. Gotta get that morning paper thing down. I need to “time travel” and write down the things that have blocked my creativity, and the things/people who have nurtured it. And then I am meant to take a twenty minute walk.

Oh, good. I need to walk the dog.

And so here’s what I find myself asking myself:

Is it possible that I am already living “The Artist’s Way”? Maybe, I tell myself. But maybe there is something to be said for following along, finding a way of getting those morning papers written, going on dates with myself.

OK, so I am declaring my intention to make a commitment to The Artist’s Way here and now. Each week, for the next 12 weeks, I will write a post about my experiences.

Would anyone care to join along? Tell us your experiences in the comments.

Ready, set, go!

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  1. Casey B March 1, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Hey, Abigail.

    I hear every word. I’m technically ten weeks in, but as a university student, I’m finding it really tough to combine getting the sleep I need to function with doing the morning pages, never mind any other part of the course. (And yet I intended to start it to give me something to focus on as the fifth anniversary of my best friend’s death looms on Easter Sunday.) My Morning Pages have denigrated into nothingness because I don’t like what’s coming up from them, so I don’t do them. That completely defeats the purpose. Taking yourself to a movie from time to time and walking the dog are perfect Artist Dates, as are your writers’ groups. (I’ve even counted writing workshops I’ve gone on as ADs, when I was actively doing them.)

    I’ll come back and check on your progress- best of luck!


  2. Paul Perrier March 1, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Too funny. I did the Artists Way when I first moved to Toronto and was trying to break into photography and film back in 1993. I was skeptical about it all but did it none the less. It really did change my life and what I wanted to create artistically. Your point that you may be living the Artists Way is probably quite true. The process of writing down on paper random thoughts, started something that I do to this day. No it’s not always in the morning and I miss lots of days, but when I don’t do it now I am aware of it and actually miss it. The artists date thing is interesting also. What was once such an uncomfortable thing to do is actually what I enjoy the most sometimes when I go out. Being alone allows you to meet so many interesting people that you ‘probably’ would not meet with a group of people. Here is how I have changed it though and it still works. Last week I was invited to go to see a concert with a group of people. We were to meet at a nearby bar and have a drink an hour before the show. I arrived 1/2 an hour before the scheduled meeting time and sat at the bar alone. 15 minutes later I was involved in one of the most interesting and random conversations I have had in a long time. The next day I wrote about it. One day it may be part of something or not?
    Anyway I look forward to reading about your experience with it.


  3. Diane March 1, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    That’s too funny. I remember reading the book when it came out, gleaning inspiration from some of her words, and then rolling my eyes at the rest. If a person has to “train” themselves to have a creative inner and outer life… (forced, trained creativity)..well, then maybe it’s not the life for them to begin with. Being organized and responsible…that’s a whole different set of skills that an artist needs. That said, the book has touched and helped many people, so maybe it forces people to try and develop traits that other artists already have. Who knows. I do know though, that my Muse doesn’t really want to be up at 5:30 am writing or painting everyday. If I’m up that early I’d rather meditate. And if I meditate, I won’t have a creative block and I won’t need the book ~

  4. Lisa March 2, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Abby, it is my mission in life to write the book that does what that book is trying to do. I hope you will read it and love it when it’s finished!

  5. abby March 2, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    Abby- the pleasure I received from my Artist’s Way group far outlasts the pain of initiating the Morning Pages.
    Though some of us found our “Way” to the daily writing and its creative push, others found their own way. What came of the whole effort is a continuing accountability between us when we meet quarterly and share the results of our efforts to make creativity a part of every day living.
    It’s obvious you are already living in the way of an artist. The question is- is your way of living a daily celebration of your creativity?
    In loving support, write on!!

  6. BigLittleWolf March 4, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Some years back, I attempted to follow along through (at least) parts of The Artist’s Way. I was solo parenting 2 kids, juggling a variety of jobs, and sleeping little as it was… FAIL, indeed.

    I have to wonder if it’s even remotely possible to do some of these things without help – or the freedom to truly do them. I don’t want that seen as an excuse; I write daily, and in multiple places including a journal (neglected of late). In some respects, my perpetual insomnia has always made writing easier, including capturing those first waking thoughts (easy when you wake at 3 am!). Still, even now in my first true experience of Empty Nest, the need to survive (and the stresses involved) nonetheless preclude the sort of “mind space” needed for some of these exercises.

    I wonder if those are excuses. Then I look at my finances and believe they are not. And I look at my (writing) life and wish to deem them excuses in the (stubborn) hope that I might someday write what I want, at the level of quality that I want.

    Are you still taking “joiners” for this? Doubt I can commit to 12 weeks… for practical reasons to do with food & shelter, but I might attempt some amount of time…

  7. Kristine March 5, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    I did the Artist’s Way years ago. I don’t know how long I kept it up but it was great while I did it. I still think about the creative outings, and occasionally will do one. Can’t seem to write every day, though. I’m trying to pay attention to what gets in my way. Paying attention is part of the practice, I think. And I think you are already living the Artist’s Way!

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