Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Artist's Way: Week One, Day Three

What are your core negative beliefs about being an artist/creative person?

It’s good to identify them because they’re what hold us back from taking the leap into living a creative life.

“Negative beliefs are exactly that: beliefs, not facts” (p. 31).

We don’t have to believe them. It’s a choice!

Here are just some of my core negative beliefs. (This is very personal, but I feel important enough for me to deal with publicly.) See if you share any of them.

I can’t consider myself an artist or writer because:

• I’m not talented enough.

• It’s only worthwhile if I can make a living from it.

• I only have one or two good ideas.

• I’ll always be poor if I try to be an artist.

• Artists are moody, depressing people and I don’t want to live that way.

• I’ll disappoint my parents if I follow my dreams.

• It’s not practical to be an artist.

• People will consider me a failure.

• I’m too old to change careers.

• I need to think about my retirement.

• Nothing I ever create will be good enough to sell or publish.

I could go on and on…

While making this list, I started to feel a little nauseous, and realized that Julia is right, “What you are is scared. Core negatives keep you scared” (p. 32).

I’m taking my beliefs as fact, and letting them limit my life. That’s just crazy!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that I should throw caution to the wind, quit my day job, buy a Winnebago, and start peddling my wares across the country (though part of me desires that). But, I don’t need to let them stop me from picking up a paintbrush or writing a short story.

There can be balance. But, not if we become immobilized by fear.

One way she suggests we break our negative beliefs is by identifying them and then countering them with an affirmative.

I’ve worked with affirmations before, but never in regards to my thoughts on my creative abilities.

I’ll talk more about this tomorrow.

For now, I’ll leave you with the same question I started this post with:

What are your core negative beliefs about being an artist/creative person?

Make a list, and we’ll talk about changing them in the next post.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Artist's Way: Week One, Day Two

For most of my life, I was a shadow artist.

What’s a “shadow artist” you ask?

According to Julia, shadow artists are people “caught between the dream of action and the fear of failure” (p. 25). These are people who believe that OTHER people can be artists/ writers/ crafters/ musicians/ etc., because they have real talent.

Shadow artists often hang out with artists, work with/for artists, or follow/support artists. They always feel like they’re just on the edge of great creativity, but can never fully step into it.

This was me.

In fact, in some ways, it’s still me.

To this very day, I carry around all the little insults and hurts and rejections and failures from my past that feel like leeches draining me of present creativity.

Maybe you’ve experienced something similar?

One way to move from being a shadow artist to an artist artist is realizing that you are still that little child who was told to stop day-dreaming, or to focus on a career that can earn you money, or to forget about being a musician because you can’t make a living that way, or just let your writing be a hobby!

Our little artist child needs protection, and safety in order to flourish. We give her that by not criticizing everything we do. It’s so easy to be hard on ourselves, to believe what we’ve been told in the past. But, that’s just one version of reality, not the one we have to believe.

I was reminded to this over the weekend.

On Saturday, I went with Rachel to the Sawdust Art Festival in Laguna Beach. And as we were winding our way through the many booths, I was struck by the varying levels of skill, and would point to one booth and say “Rachel! I can do that! It’s slightly above elementary level!” and then I would look at another booth and say “Way beyond my capability.” But, time and again, there was a booth that displayed art that I could do. In fact, I saw art that was very similar to what I’ve painted!

What I took from that fabulous day was that I am already good enough! People, of my same skill level had booths! They considered themselves artists even though their paintings were simple or child-like or of cats!

And you know what that means? I can consider myself an artist. Right now! All I have to do is change my mind.

And the same goes for you!

Rachel and I left realizing that we already have it. We’re enough! We are artists! We just need to let go of expectations and fear. We need to let ourselves be free, and part of that freedom comes through play.


Yes, play.

Your artist child needs to be allowed to have fun and play with sparkles. Or allowed to dump out all the fabric she’d like and just look at the colors. Or to listen to music as loud as she wants while pretending to play the drums.

We, (the adult us), need to remember to play. And that’s hard to do sometimes between all the practical (and necessary) stuff we need to do as functional adults.

That’s why Julia has you go on Artist’s Dates. It gives you a reason to play!

I hope you’re thinking of something you can do for an artist date. It can be as simple as taking an hour to flip through magazines and cut out pictures/ideas that inspire you.

Remember, a writer is someone who writes. A painter is someone who paints. A musician is some who plays an instrument. A photographer is someone who takes pictures. There is no other label necessary. Not good. Not bad. Not gifted. Not talented.

Stop being a shadow artist and realize that you already have it in you!

Here’s a question I want to leave you with:

1) How can you be more kind to your inner artist this week?

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Artist’s Way: Week One, Day One

So, I’d like to say that I woke up this morning filled with the excitement of unborn creative energy, ready to take a leap into the ether of the Creator, and have a morning unlike any other filled with magical fairies of inspiration.

But, that didn’t happen.

Instead, I woke up with a migraine hangover. And after hitting snooze four times, I fumbled for my Morning Pages notebook/pen/glasses and wrote: I hate mornings.

Now, yes, I made myself continue to write, but it wasn’t as I had hoped. (Not that I was really expecting fairies.)

But, I will say that I’m optimistic about the week because, despite my rough morning, I already feel creatively productive. And that’s a great feeling!

This week the focus is on “Recovering a Sense of Safety.”

I know for myself, many times I’ve said I’m not creative, but what I really meant was, “I’m not safe to create. I’ve been judged in the past. I’ve been told I’m not good enough. I don’t want to take that risk again. I’m afraid of what others will think. I don't want to be ridiculed or be made a fool of.”

It's all about fear.

There’s a quote by Picasso that says “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” How true is that!

I know I’ve watched my nephews pick up crayons and create their masterpieces. They beam with self-assurance, knowing that I’m going to praise their work and hang it on the fridge. They don’t see anything wrong with purple hair and orange skin, or a lopsided circle, or an animal that is unrecognizable. It breaks my heart to know that slowly the world is going to tell them that they’re not good enough, and slowly they’ll come to believe it.

This week’s exercises all focus on re-establishing safety. It’s going to be an interesting experience because about half of them require remembering the past, and if you know me, you know I don’t remember much of my childhood or teenage years (or early 20’s, for that matter). So, it will be a challenge.

But, I’m up for it!

Now, a question for you: Do you have any creative plans for the week?

Think of something right now and schedule it in, with pen!*

TOMORROW: How my adverture this past weekend supported my inner artist and gave my confidence a good kick in the pants!

*This is reminding me of when I signed the contract in the book yesterday. I seriously contemplated signing it in pencil, in case I fail, so I can erase it and pretend I never tried. Silly me.