When you go through a hellish time, it imprints as a journey.
We don’t typically (but maybe should) wax on the average drive to the store. Our Tuesday evenings. The 3,919th load of laundry. But we remember the bad times.
This last spring, I knew I’d been through something awful, something incredibly unjust, and rather than claim victimhood and carve that on my memory, I fought back.
I read a book.
Not just any book, though there’s certainly healing to be found in that act. I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Further, I started a morning pages habit and eventually got to artist’s dates (something I’m still working on). Over the three months I kept up with the prompts and directives, pairing the audiobook with the workbook, and laid claim to an artistic recovery. It worked. I still went through a hellish space and time, but then I did something awesome for myself and came out of it all the better. Stronger.
If you are an artist-type person and looking for something that may jumpstart you into a new phase, I recommend the book for a few reasons.
- Discipline. Choose a time to start the “program” when you have twelve weeks to commit. Yes, some weeks will be harder than others. Yes, you may miss a day or two, but set yourself up as best you can and then following to the letter will feel good and give you back a sense of control. ProTip: Week 4 is hard. Read up on the experience ahead of time. Select your starting week based on this information. Put your finish date on the calendar an prepare to celebrate.
- Self-awareness. This is bandied about on the latests trends of social-emotional everything and mindfulness like candy. Ignore all that. Julia’s book existed long before all of this mainstream mush. When she tells you to connect with your inner child because it’s tied to your artist self that’s not lip service, it’s legit. You’ll remember who hurt you, who helped you, and loop all that in to the cool and capable person you are now.
- Generative. You’ll write a bunch. I will be the first to confess that for some of the prompts I skimped and wrote a few sentences. No one from the Guilt Police apprehended me and I’ve lived to tell the tale. Still, you will write three pages, daily for the duration. You’ll draft letters, essays, collages, and all sorts of visualizations to paint a picture of where you’ve been, where you are, and where you are going. If you haven’t been able to make or your making has been stymied, you have a solid chance of busting out of that mindset.
I could go on, but I’ve got more art to make. If you are in need of a shift, in search of something fresh, or just like a good-old-fashioned personal challenge, I offer this book to you.