Failing the Artist’s Way – Week 2

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I’ve decided writing morning papers is making me depressed. I wonder if that happens to other people undertaking this endeavor. I now remember why I don’t journal. I’m a whiny crank. I’ve been pouring out my 4am worries and they sound like a broken record. You need to… findajob refithehouse betougheronthekids notspendsomuchmoney findaboyfriend notfindaboyfriend call<fillinneglectedfriend’snamehere> notstressabouttheterriblefeedbackIgotaboutteachingmywritingclass stopbeinglazy… For. Three. Pages. Dear god. When I’m finished I feel terrible. One morning I tried turning it around and writing about the things I was grateful for and somehow ended in a tirade about the flakiness of men. Is this what I’m really thinking?

Meanwhile, last Friday I went to a yoga class, met with my new/old Artist’s Way friends followed by our writing meet up. I felt a little better that the other people in the group were having trouble getting up early enough to write the morning papers. Some needed coffee first and wrote them during breakfast. That seemed more do-able, though then I would have to give up my morning addiction of reading the newspaper (yeah, I’m one of the few hold-outs who still have black wrists every morning). But nobody mentioned feeling depressed. One person was exuberant about all the things they were discovering about themselves and laughingly called it psycho-terapy. For me, its just psycho-inducing.

OK, so in the group we worked on some of the Tasks. Come up with 5 people in your past who have blocked your creativity and 5 who have nurtured it. Write a story about it being blocked and write a letter to someone who championed you. I nearly cried writing my letter to my fifth grade teacher, Miss Barton. How she made me feel smart, the fun I had when my friend Donna and I were invited over to her house for a slumber party. Did I question that one of the other female teachers was there too? Only years later did I realize that they were a couple. I wanted to send Miss Barton my letter. I wondered if she was even still alive. She must be in her 70s by now. I FaceBooked my old school and someone wrote on the wall, remembering all those female teachers and the whole lesbian vibe that was happening at that school at the time. I never knew, or cared. The sentiments were all sweet, because we adored them.

So the tasks went better. I felt a little bit gratified, having my little trip down memory lane. I then remembered my third grade teacher who championed me as a poet when I was eight. She saw me as a writer thirty years before I did.

It reminds me of those times, as a teenager, when my mom used to ask me what book I was reading because she could always tell by my mood if I was reading a depressing one. I took it on. All of the emotion, or the fear, or the anger in that book transferred directly into my brain. I learned to be careful about the books I read.

Now I’m wondering if I should shelve the morning papers like I did those depressing books? Or maybe instead of making them journal-like I should write stories or letters.

The other thing I did on Friday was sit with my friend Deirdre, a formidable story doctor and we went over my story and figured out an ending. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now and hope to get a first draft done in the next couple of months.

So maybe the creative juices are flowing again. I just wish I knew how to deal with the unexpected side-effects of my Artist’s Way. Is anyone else experiencing side-effects?


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  1. annie March 7, 2012 at 10:53 am

    I not only quit journaling but I destroyed all my journals because they were filled with whiny drivel. Best move ever. I wish I’d know about blogging back then and started when it was new and few ppl where doing it. You can’t whine or self-pity (as much) when you have an audience. Accountability, I guess.

  2. Kathie Neff March 7, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Hi Abigail,
    Michele’s mom here…saw a tiny piece of your post on FB (failing Artist’s Way, Day Two) and I laughed and laughed because I have taken up Artist’s Way and those words resonated with me. Mostly for failing to show up. So you are way ahead of me.

    Regarding the writing piece, I recently learned the value of what I used to call “useless whining on paper” (my style). The “mitote”in our head is more normal than you think and the process of getting it down on paper is a good one.

    Here is one explanation from the Toltec. There are others. You may enjoy this link:

    As I grow older, I believe less and less the idea of failure. A better way to frame it might be to say that it is all about timing.

    Wishing you well. I love your writing. Keep up the good work! -k

  3. Jill Schacter March 7, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    You may very well have your own way. Don’t let The Artist’s Way have its way with you without your full consent Abby. (That being said, I actually do find improvements in mental health and a general freeing of the creative pipes through the process of journaling.)

    1. Abigail - Site Author March 13, 2012 at 11:04 am

      I am keeping an open mind. Maybe I do need to clear my mind of the crap that’s been building up in there. I guess journaling is like a cleanse for the mind. Haha. Thanks for your comment Jill.

  4. Nancy March 8, 2012 at 10:47 am

    Hi Abby,

    It sounds as though you’re on track – as I belive one of the purposes of the morning papers exercise is to do exactly that – empty your mind of a lot of that negative stuff that is possibly taking up too much mental real estate in your head. As for side effects, you may find that you feel less and less depressed as you move through the exercise over a few days.


    1. Abigail - Site Author March 13, 2012 at 11:03 am

      Thanks Nancy. I hope you’re right.

  5. aaron schachter March 24, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    it’s funny to be part of this blog post. my parents recently moved out of the house i grew up in and had to figure out what to do with all those old journals. well, it didn’t take long to figure out actually. i agree with annie.

    thanks for linking to my art and website! 🙂 best of luck.

    1. Abigail - Site Author March 29, 2012 at 11:14 am

      Thanks Aaron. So love your artwork! Happy to make your acquaintance this way!

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