Week 8:  Mountain Climbing and Cannonballs

Quick Recap: I’m getting through Quarantine 2020 by doing the 12-week creativity recovery challenge in the book, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

Chapter Eight: Recovering a Sense of Strength

 “This week tackles another major creative block: time. You will explore the ways in which you have used your perceptions of time to preclude taking creative risks. You will identify immediate and practical changes you can make in your current life. You will excavate the early conditioning that may have encouraged you to settle for far less than you desire creatively.”

This week addressed some of our greatest struggles as blocked artists: Old wounds and patience.

“We must remember that our artist is a child and that what we can handle intellectually far outstrips what we can handle emotionally. We must be alert to flag and mourn our loses…We are childlike, not childish.”

I love that quote. I feel like in the last eight weeks, Cameron constantly refers us to our little selves, reminding us of that elusive moment in time when we didn’t have adult insecurities and were proud of things like nonsense scribbles and cannonballs.

The section that I got the most out of: Age and Time: Product and Process

Cameron says, “Focused on process, our creative life retains a sense of adventure.”

The overwhelming task of completing a book has felt mountainous to me, and nothing like a fun adventure. I felt like it was just too big to climb. I was already exhausted from the hundred little hills I had to hike in my busy life. It was too much to take on. Too high. Too scary.

“Instead of allowing ourselves a creative journey, we focus on the length of the trip. ‘It’s such a long way,’ we tell ourselves. It may be, but each day is just one more day with some motion in it, and that motion toward a goal is very enjoyable…creativity lies not in the done but in doing…The grace to be a beginner is always the best prayer for an artist. The beginner’s humility and openness lead to exploration. Exploration leads to accomplishment. All of it begins at the beginning, with the first small and scary step.”

I decided instead of envisioning myself climbing a scary, gigantic mountain, I would imagine I was on a fun journey to the top of a mountain with friends, enjoying the exploration, scenery, and camaraderie in each step.

For my first step, I’ll simply agree to the journey. “Why yes, I would love to go on this journey of writing and finishing my book.” Saying it out loud, telling people about it, being held accountable once making the decision is exciting and thrilling in itself. Will I or won’t I be able to do it?

Then for the next step, I’ll start the “doing,” the walking, one step at a time. I will write my book one word at a time. I’ll focus only on each step, one foot after another, enjoying the hike, the scenery, the energy, the momentum, the progress. One word, one sentence, one paragraph, one page, then one chapter, one act, then another. And I’ll trust that in doing so, I’ll eventually get to the top of the mountain. I’ll only worry about this step for right now. I won’t worry about what I will do at the top until I get there.

As of writing this, I am halfway through Chapter 14 of my young adult book and can now say I am closer to finishing than starting. The adventure hasn’t been easy so far, but it sure feels good.

Linus Pauling says, “Satisfaction of one’s curiosity is one of the greatest sources of happiness in life.”  

“When obsession strikes—as it will—about how the damn thing is not any good, you tell yourself that this is a question for later and turn back to doing what is the next right thing… As a rule of thumb, it is best to just admit that there is always one action you can take for your creativity daily,” Cameron continues.

I took that advice to heart this week. When my Onteejo (my amazing auntie artist and accountability aficionado) asked if I wanted to see the comments and edits she made on the rough chapters I sent her, I said, “Yes, but not right now.” I wanted to honor her interest and thoughts on my work, but I remebered now isn’t the time to do that, as it is “a question for later” as Cameron puts it.

My beginner’s goal is to focus solely on finishing this rough draft and completing it. And once I’m finished, I will take the next step: editing. On my way back down the mountain, I’ll take in all the comments and suggestions I can as I fix my story to make it great. Right now, however, it doesn’t have to be great. The next right thing is: just getting it done!

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This week, I:

  • Did the Morning Pages every day, along with the chapter Tasks and my Artist Date (made bracelets charms with the kids out of modeling clay).
  • Finished Chapters 11, 12, and 13 of my YA Fantasy WIP.
  • Wrote a blog post.
  • Spent on average three and a half hours a day writing/working on this challenge and my book.
  • Celebrated my youngest daughter’s Kindergarten graduation (with only grandparents) in our driveway with takeout Thai food and smore’s.
  • Started a summer story book for my kids about their adventures with their puppy. I’ll write them a few page-length chapters a week for them to draw, act out, or write themselves.
  • Did an hour and half bike ride with a friend, and finally made the appointment to get a hitch put on my car for a bike rack. Woohoo!
  • Enjoyed a fantastic weekend alone for the first time in over four months with my husband. We spent one day exploring the Philadelphia navy ship yard and the empty stadiums, getting takeout from one of our favorite restaurants near Rittenhouse. We spent the another day with a couple of friends lazily tubing down the Delaware river.

 

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