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This is the last day of the workshop. Give yourself something -- a thank you card, a cup of tea, an evening in with a favorite show, whatever you like -- for coming this far and doing all this work. Take some time to plan an artist's date or something relaxing and enjoyable for next week.

You can use the comments or your own journal to assess what worked for you and what didn't, what tools you'll carry with you and which ones you'll leave behind. Will you keep doing morning pages, or use that time for something else? What concepts were useful to you, and which ones were a hindrance? The answers are different for everyone.

Finally, share one thing you learned with someone you trust. It doesn't have to be either profound or complimentary -- "Julia Cameron is full of it," "12 weeks is too damn long for me," and "[personal profile] rejectionchallenge is the worst host" are all valid insights. It can be personal or general, it can relate directly to your creative projects or not.

Last morning pages, unless you decide to keep doing them! Did you get them done today?
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Review your negative beliefs and affirmations from Week One, if you still have them. How many are the same? Have any of them changed?

Write a few affirmations about next week and the weeks after.

Did you do your morning pages?
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Take a look at your current areas of procrastination and any creative U-turns you might be making or on the brink of making. Do some quick mending if you need to; make a list if you feel like it.

Did you do your morning pages?
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Select a container for your fears, hopes, resentments, dreams, worries -- anything that keeps you up at night. Cameron calls this a "God jar" and suggests that you can put worries in the jar and say "God's got it."

Mine is a small square box called The Box. I wrote some worries down and put them in The Box, which has been decorated with a large frowny face. Old worries will be burned or turned into poems at the end of three months (and then I'll decide whether the box is still useful or not).

Decide how best to use your own container, what to name it, how to interact with it. When this week ends, all the tools revert to you, to leave on the table or take home.
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We're almost to the end! Where will you go from here? Are you relieved that the workshop is coming to a close, or worried? What are you going to do the first day of Week 13?

Write down any resistance, angers, fears or doubts you have about going forward from here. You can share them in the comments or keep them to yourself.
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Oh wow, you guys. We are ALMOST DONE! How's everyone doing?

I very stupidly came home from a work trip and FORGOT TO POST for three days; I don't know if this counts as a Cameronian U-Turn or not. I'm really sorry either way! I'm going to go ahead and late-post Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday now :(

Cameron begins the chapter with a discussion of the importance of faith, which for the purposes of this book seems to be a mix of “clear goals” and “trust in the process.” It's important, she says, to give our ideas some space and time to grow – she compares our ideas to embryos, stalactites, eggs, and root vegetables and reminds us that being in the dark is part of the process. She suggests lots of doodling and messing around and fewer outlines for people who tend to spend a lot of energy forcing their creative work in various ways.

Trust your own sense of what works. )

In the section called “The Imagination At Play,” Cameron talks about the importance of play and recreation, the experience of remembering old long-forgotten creative activities such as dancing or painting sets in high school, and concludes that we are intrinsically creative. You can think of this in the way Cameron does, as being created for a purpose or “intended” to be something, or you can think of it as a human capability, like language, that improves with cultivation.

Slightly OT side note )

Anyway, I like this part:

We want to do something, but we think it needs to be the right something, by which we mean something important

We are what's important[.]


Finally, setbacks happen. Avoid them if you can, and don't let them crash you in any case. Cameron suggests thinking of them as a test of your resolve – I'd just as soon say “shit happens” and move on. Morning pages, if you decide to continue them, can be a tool for dealing with, anticipating, and thinking clearly about setbacks of all kinds.

Don't forget to ask for support where needed and be aware of how the people in your life relate to your creativity. Which friends will support you no matter what? Which friends will be straightforward if you need them to be? I don't share Cameron's zero-tolerance attitude toward cynics and skeptics; I think a bullshit detector (your own or a friend's) is critical to the success of any self-help program. But it's a good idea to keep track of who makes you feel bad about your creativity and set some boundaries where you can.

Since it's the last week, spend some time planning for next week. What are you going to do differently once the workshop is over? What tools will you keep?

One last week of morning pages and artist's date! Don't forget to do them!
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Today is my sister's birthday! Happy birthday, M!

"Write and mail an encouraging letter to your inner artist. That sounds silly and feels very, very good to receive. Remember that your artist is a child and loves praise and encouragement and festive plans," says Cameron. If your artist isn't that kind of child, or isn't a child at all, include the things your artist will like.

If you do this exercise, do send this one through the post so you can open it later. If you don't have the postage or time, you can PM me with your letter and address and I'll mail it to you.

Don't forget the morning pages!
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**Pre-posted**

Copy a favorite poem, quotation, prayer or song that you find encouraging. It can be the one from Tuesday, or a different one; it can be by you or by someone else. Fold it up, or if it's small enough, copy it onto a business card. Carry it with you for a while.

Did you do your morning pages?
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*Hey, Artist's Wayfarers -- I'm pre-posting Friday and Saturday because I'll be away from the Internet all weekend. Sorry for the inconvenience!*

In your new notebook (or your old one, whatever) plan one week's worth of nurturing actions -- one concrete loving thing you can do for yourself every day for the next seven days. For this one, you want to be realistic, and stick to your schedule.

Did you do your morning pages today?
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How have you changed since beginning this workshop? If you did the Life Pie exercise, you can review it to see if it's shaped the same, or use your own criteria to inventory for yourself how you've changed and not changed.

List five ways you may change as you continue.

Did you do your morning pages today?
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Acquire or set aside for yourself "a special creativity notebook." If you're tired of buying things, it's ok to set aside a stack of paper and maybe put some stickers on it if you want. Number the first 5-10 pages. If you did the Life Pie exercise in Week 2, give one page to each category. If you didn't, devote each page to an area of your life that is important to you.

"With no thought as to practicality, list ten wishes in each area. All right, it's a lot. Let yourself dream al little here."

Did you do your morning pages today?
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To be an artist is to acknowledge the astonishing. It is to allow the wrong piece in a room if we like it. It is to hang on to a weird coat that makes us happy. It is to not keep trying to be something that we aren't.

If you are happier writing than not writing, painting than not painting, singing than not singing, acting than not acting, directing than not directing, for God's sake (and I mean that literally) let yourself do it.


To kill your dreams because they are irresponsible is to be irresponsible to yourself )

Building your Artist's Altar )

Some exercises for Week 11:

Write out in longhand, your Artist's Prayer from Week Four. Place it in your wallet.
(p. 190)

[R]eexamine your God concept. Does your belief system limit or support your creative expansion? Are you open minded about altering your concept of God?
(p. 191)
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For this week, Cameron suggests that you record your own voice reading the Basic Principles (see Spiritual Path Week 00) and a favorite essay from her book. You might prefer to select your own favorite poem or essay from a wider library of sources. You can make several recordings of favorites or just one. Cameron's idea here is that you can use this recording for meditation.

I can't really stand the sound of my voice. so I might have a friend record some favorite poems and an essay for me instead, if I were going to do this task. If you like it, go for it.

Did you do your morning pages today?
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Some themes for Week 11 are: accepting your artist self, accepting the importance of creativity, the pitfalls of success (again, it's easy to self-sabotage after a small success; big ones have the same risk magnified), work-life balance, the usefulness of physical activity.

It's heavy on the anecdotes, but the ideas are simple. Don't discount creativity because it's not "practical;" acknowledge it as an important part of your life. This can mean accepting the risks and complications of being an artist, and it also means accepting yourself (whether or not you fit the Cameronian ideal of a creative person).

The exercise section (predictably called "The Zen of Sports") is interesting, if not always clear. The main ideas here are that creativity is an embodied action and unblocking requires moving from the "head" into the body (please feel free to ignore my compulsion to point out that the head is part of the body), and that physical activity causes us to live in and pay attention to the present as a form of meditation. She encourages her readers to run around, take long walks, go swimming, or otherwise engage the whole body. Cameron doesn't offer alternatives for people with limited mobility, but the exercise stuff seems to be operating on more or less the same principle as the "filling the well" idea, where any attention-requiring repetitive action can help replenish creative resources.

The final section describes creating an artist's altar and reiterates the idea of making tactile and sensory changes to your creative space as a way of reinforcing enthusiasm, protection, and enjoyment.

Don't forget to schedule a date with your artist this week, and do your morning pages every day!
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Set a bottom line.

Make new rules about how you interact with your habits and blocks. Stick to them for at least one week.

If you regularly spend long hours researching for projects you find it hard to begin, can you limit research to a particular part of the day? If you spend a lot of down time on websites that are refreshing and fun, but swallow up more of your time than you'd like, can you make a rule about when you have to stop reading, or which evenings are for recreational reading and which have to be free?

If you're a freelancer, do you routinely undervalue your time? (I have a terrible habit of under-reporting my hours so as to be a “better deal.”) Don't do that if you can avoid it.

What other rules can you make?

If making a bunch of new rules doesn't work for you, try another task from this week: List three actions you could take to nurture or comfort your artist. Then do one of them.

Did you do your morning pages today?
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List five small victories of the past week. List five small victories of the past five years.

Did you do your morning pages?
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Tell the truth about your creativity-blocking habits. Didn't we do this already? Cameron ask us to do it again. What do we enjoy or get out of them? What about them nurtures, entertains or sustains us? What makes them worth it?

What can we preserve about our habits and relationships while making room for more creativity? What do we have to let go?

Did you do your morning pages today?
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Make a quick list of things you love -- happiness touchstones for you. Cameron's touchstones include "River rocks worn smooth, willow trees, cornflowers, chicory, real Italian bread, homemade vegetable soup, the Bo Deans' music, black beans and rice, the smell of new-mown grass, blue velvet (the cloth and the song)"

Don't worry about your touchstones making you look good or saying good things about you; stick to things you really love. Draw one of them or make a book or post the list somewhere where it can remind you.

Did you do your morning pages today?
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Make three nice promises to yourself, and keep them.

Do one nice thing for yourself every day this week. It doesn't have to be anything huge. Just something for yourself.

Sub in "kind" or other suitable word if you don't go in for "nice."

Did you do your morning pages today?

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Twelve-week creativity workshop!

August 2014

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