Artists’ Way

If we’ve ever spoken for more than 7 minutes, I’m likely to have brought up the Artists’ Way by Julia Cameron.

I thought it was worth trying to explain what and why it is. If nothing else, this should make me more able to articulate its importance in the future.

So what is it all about:

  • It’s 12 weeks
  • It’s about artistic discovery and recovery
  • There’s a themed essay every week focusing on an element of recovery (e.g. recovering a sense of safety, identity, power etc)
  • There are excercise around each weekly theme
  • You write three pages of nonsense or not nonsense every morning (known as the morning pages)
  • You take yourself out for an Artist’s Date, alone, once each week

What you get out of it:

It somehow develops a sense of clarity of who you are and what you want. It gives an abundance of ideas of things to make and it helps you get out of your own way to make these things happen.

Don’t just take my word for it. In a Facebook post in 2012, bestselling author, Elizabeth Gilbert says:

“Three times in the last decade I’ve committed to doing The Artist’s Way’s program, and each time I’ve learned something important and surprising about myself and my work.”

She is humble enough to admit:

“Without The Artist’s Way, there would have been no Eat, Pray, Love.”

I have previously been through the Artist’s Way process as part of a group and found it extremely inspirational to share the journeys of others. It also provided accountability so that I did the excercises.

If you’d be interested in going through the process in the summer, I’m likely to start a group in Manchester. Please drop me an email (embriarmusic@gmail.com) if you’d like to join me.

Thanks

Em x

Monica’s mother and me

How goal setting turned me into Monica’s mother.  

We live in a world of #youcandoanything. Like many people, I bombard myself with empowering Instagram quotes. I have become quite the inspiration addict.  

Inspiration should be handled with care. 

My best sources of #youcandoit quotes combine two themes:

  • #followyourdreams (i.e. focussed goal setting); and
  • #selflove (i.e. be kind to yourself in the process).

The result: set goals and hope to achieve things whilst being kind and encouraging yourself as you make moves to begin, work and achieve.

In my experience, the first without the second causes fatigue, adrenaline overload and an unhealthy tunnel vision.

I hadn’t considered how my #selflove was manifesting itself and had a horrible realisation.  There is a disastrous internal miscommunication going on.

So… to the Friends analogy.

Everyone’s seen the Friends episodes when Monica’s mother directs a constant stream of criticism Monica’s way.  Let’s presume that this is well intended and that she loves Monica and wants the best for her.

Monica and the rest of us perceive the criticism as destructive and mean. The reaction: resistance, anger and a shutting down. 

Just like Monica’s mother, my goal-setting-self has the best of intentions.  When I set goals I want the best for myself and it comes from a place of self development.  

However, when I communicate the goals to myself my gut hears (or feels) me:

(A) guilting myself into doing things; and 

(B) feeling shame when I don’t manage to do those things.  

I have realised that, despite my good intentions, my inner voice has become as destructive and mean as Monica’s mother.  

I use this voice in relation to creative productivity, eating, exercise, posture… all of it.  Demanding impossible standards and criticising failure.

Now that I’ve noticed, I’m trying to be kinder and it seems to be going well.

Recommendations

I’ve tried a few things to teach my goal-setting voice to be kinder.  Here’s what I’ve found helpful:

  • Big wishes:  The classic  coach question is:  what would you do if money, your ego (etc…) wasn’t an issue?   Instead ask:  what would you wish for yourself in your life in relation to your work, home, creativity, family, [insert other important categories].  Write constantly for 2 minutes, 5 minutes or 20 minutes and see how it feels.
  • 3 daily wishes:  each day, instead of writing a to-do list, make three wishes for yourself that day.  Be as specific as possible.  Again, see how it feels.
  • Listening out for Monica’s Mom:  Always listen out for Monica’s Mother voice and, where possible, try to rephrase the criticism and be kind.
  • Done list:  Taking time at the end of each day to do a “done” list rather than a to do list can be satisfying.

I’d be really interested to hear ways that others deal with this inner voice.

Thanks for reading.

Em x