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

The Artist’s Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self The Artist’s Way is a 12-week program designed by writer/director, Julia Cameron, to help develop creativity. The program is for creatives of all types, and has weekly exercises based on free writing, affirmations and regular excursions. Come with me as I take this 12-week course and see what I discover along the way.

Taking Care of Mind, Body and Spirit Brings a Sense of Autonomy

This week, the Artist’s Way is all about finding the right balance between “have to” and “want to.” There are things all of us must do in order to survive, such as keeping our 9 to 5 job, taking care of our families and paying the bills. Rather than look at these demands as obstacles, Cameron urges us to find ways to incorporate our creative life into the rest of our lives. In other words, we must focus on what we can do, not on what we can’t do. This focus on the positive will empower us to recover our sense of autonomy.

Even if you manage to make money from your art, chances are your income for art alone is sporadic. It is impossible to know ahead of time what’s going to sell. While you need to be aware of what is going on in the artistic marketplace, to pander to it is a waste of time and effort. By the time you have created your first in a series of teenage vampire novels that trend will have played out and it will be all about orphaned girls and their horses.

Rather than follow trends, Cameron urges artists to follow their heart. If something strikes a cord with you and inspires you to create, then chances are it will resonate with someone else. Best to let your artist child have it’s way, and once it’s quiet, you are free to attend to the necessary adult responsibilities in your life.

The best way, Cameron says, to gain autonomy is to ensure you are physically, mentally and spiritually fit. To this end, good diet, good sleep and good exercise are essential. Personally, I like to keep moderate habits and enjoy walking in the fresh air when I need a break. The repetitive motion of walking allows my mind to rest and is a great form of meditation. Although in the background,  my latest story problem is bubbling away. Often when I return from my sojourn, I find it easier to smooth over that bumpy transition, plug up that plot hole or breathe life into that wooden dialogue.

Combining morning pages with regular physical exercise will keep us “spiritually centred.” In staying true to these practices, along with the artist’s date, we will build our creative core strength and will stay strong in the face of opposition, be it personal or financial, that may impede our creative journey.

For my artist’s date, I sat down and watched the first episode in the series Downtown Abbey, something I have wanted to see for a long time. I thoroughly enjoyed getting lost in the wonderful upstairs/downstairs world of a Edwardian England, where dowager countesses hold court in their drawing rooms and live in blissful ignorance of such unheard-of concepts as “weekends.”

As for the rest of us, we must work, do chores and take care of our families. But somewhere in the mix, we must learn to claim time and energy to nourish our creative selves.

Posted by naomilisashippen

2 comments

Sandra Muller

I really like this mindset shift from focusing on how and where we can be creative rather than focusing on the time blocks where we can’t be.

I haven’t watched Downtown Abbey yet – I’m too scared I’ll be hooked.

i hope you find time this week to nourish your creative self 🙂

naomilisashippen

Thanks,Sandra. Yes, I managed to carve out some creative time and Downton Abbey is VERY addictive 🙂

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