The Artist’s Way: Week One, Recovering A Sense of Safety

Be honest, do you feel able to call yourself an Artist? Have you ever been brave enough to stand up and announce that you have created something and it is good? I struggle to do this, I really do. Even after four and a half years writing a blog and (hopefully) not repeating myself too often, of writing, proofing and publishing six… seven? books that have been well-received, I struggle to call myself a writer. A writer is someone with a Proper Contract from a Proper Publishing House, not a dilettante that writes because she must and publishes only because a multi-national conglomerate like Amazon made it possible.

It’s not safe for me to own my own talents. That’s bizarre, but true. How do you lay claim to a status when your own inner voice won’t let you? When that inner critic says “There’s always someone better than you more successful than you, more talented than you. How can you claim to be any good when XXXX (insert superfamous creative hero or heroine here) is just so far above you in terms of output/ability/ success?”

That little voice is insidious and, of course, is the voice that Julia Cameron wants us to recognise, acknowledge and learn to ignore in the Morning Pages. Writers as great as Virginia Woolf have experienced it. She wrote that all books were “surrounded by a circle of invisible censors… who admonish us.” And Julia Cameron expects us to release both the expectation that we should listen to our inner critic and that we should seek to look good all the time. This is a marathon, not a sprint. We do the work to get us to where we will be safe and able to say: I am creative, an artist, writer, potter, whatever and I will be one whatever you say to me.

Week One is my first real attempt to use the Tools of the Artist’s Way for a while. The three pages of longhand moaning in the morning are easy enough to do in Lockdown (it’s a matter of getting up early and just doing them) but the Artist Dates have had me thinking for a few days of how, precisely, to feed my inner child artist in quite the way Julia suggests when, at the moment, even sitting on a bench at the seaside or in a coffee shop watching the world go by is verboten. Don’t worry, I did come up with a listful, which I’ll share Wednesday or Thursday.

I’ve been enjoying thinking through the tasks for week one, though. Julia Cameron advises only doing half, and choosing the ones that call to me most and those that frighten/irritate or repel me most. For week one the tasks are:

  • Morning Pages, 3 sides longhand.
  • Artist date, 2 hrs solitude.
  • List three enemies of your creative self-worth
  • Write out a horror story about one of them.
  • List three champions of your creative worth.
  • Write out a happy piece of encouragement, like a thank you letter and post it to yourself or your old mentor.
  • If you had five other lives to lead, what would they be?
  • Look at your negative self comments, or blurts as JC calls them. Turn them into positives.
  • Take your artist for a brisk 20 minute walk to alter consciousness.

There’s enough there to keep anyone busy, really!

I’m particularly drawn to the five other lives task… it’s not as hard as it seems to slide into a different possible future, and for me it will be interesting to see where I think I might have ended up if I’d been an astronaut, a studio runner in a TV studio or even stayed childless and been a headteacher in a school!

The task that I find myself wincing at is turning my negative self-thoughts into positive affirmations. I cannot be the only one who feels self-conscious at trying to tell myself that I am a creative powerhouse who is capable of helping other people…. yet I know it’s true, because others have said it to me. Why is it so hard to believe it?

I think I’ll also write the letter to an old mentor. I’m still in contact with the primary school teacher who first encouraged me to play recorder, and he was so creative in so many other ways. So many of my other mentors have passed, but it would be nice to let Sir P know what he meant to me as a chubby, selfish, angry little girl, desperate to be allowed to compete with the boys (including my three brothers) on equal grounds. I’m still fighting that inferiority complex yet.

And I will keep reading, underlining and writing in my copy of The Artist’s Way. I actually have a copy of the Artist’s Way Workbook which I was given for Christmas. It is nice, but unnecessary for the most part since a decent notebook or file would do. I’m going to use the workbook anyway, because the pages are quite nicely set out with the task in the middle and plenty of blank space around for doodling, writing, illustrating. I’m not a big fan of journals or notebooks where there’s one small line at the top of the page, and the implication is that you have to fill the rest or else…..

So far, then, I’m happy to be on The Artist’s Way, the creative path, the river of inspiration. And it has fitted nicely into life: I rise early, write my pages and then come into work where I can use any free time to create affirmations or look back over the task. I am going to write another post this week about Virtual Artist Dates, only because I need to record my ideas and the links for them somewhere easily available, and I’ll be back next Monday with an insight into how week one went, and what week two is asking of me!

The header picture is by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash. I chose this one because it looks like a writer’s desk at the start of a project, which is what this journey through The Artist’s Way actually is. I also liked the small wisps of green which remind me that getting outside is still the most inspirational thing for me to do.

I will be sharing any The Artist’s Way blogposts and quotations in the A Year of Simple Abundance Facebook group, as well as any thoughts or emotions thrown up by a reread of Simple Abundance. Membership is free, and only relies on the answers to three simple questions, so if you fancy it do please ask and join.

Like all my blogs, Facebook groups and other social media content, A Year of Simple Abundance is free to join and ad free as far as possible.

How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted to me or bought by me with my everyday wages or donations from supporters.

I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:

Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little rhings in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human.

Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better.

If you’d like to support me, but don’t want to buy a book, I have a Paypal.Me account as Hygge Jem. Every little helps, so even a few pence goes towards the books, goods and courses I use and recommend on the site. I’m grateful for every little bit that brings me closer to my dream of full-time writing, and I know I couldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for the support of many readers and friends out there. Thank you all for every little bit of support, emotional, physical and financial, you give me.

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