Jun. 23rd, 2014

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We are traditionally rather proud of ourselves for having slipped creative work in there between the domestic chores and obligations. I'm not sure we deserve such big A-pluses for that. —Toni Morrison

Nobody objects to a woman being a good writer or sculptor or geneticist if at the same time she manages to be a good wife, good mother, good-looking, good-tempered, well-groomed, and unaggressive. —Leslie M. McIntyre

Toni Morrison has my number. I am constantly giving myself a giant A-plus for having no time to write, and it's no good.

Cameron's topics this week include what she calls the "virtue trap". She says a very common reason for maintaining a creative block is the need, or desire, to avoid "what would X think?" where X is a spouse, family member, or friend. For a lot of people, sacrificing something of our own time for the benefit of others can feel selfless or virtuous, and that feeling, or the need to avoid feeling selfish, can be very compelling.

Because of this, we might be reluctant to set aside time for fear of being selfish, or of losing the feeling of virtue that comes from never having time. We might even be reluctant to compromise where compromise is possible.

One of Cameron's examples is a woman who wants to take pottery classes, but it would mean missing some of her son's baseball practices. Instead of taking the classes and attending as many of the practices as she can without missing class, or even taking some classes and only skipping a few practices, she skips the classes entirely to attend all the practices, and pushes the pottery classes into the category of things she would like to do if supporting her son didn't come first.

At some point in your creative life, Cameron says, you will have to be selfish. Try not to be afraid.

Being afraid to be selfish can be a kind of self-destruction. Organizing our lives without care for our creative self is a kind of self-destruction. Many of the tasks in Week 5 focus on possibilities that we have relegated to the past (when we were young and stupid) or to the future (when we're older and have more money or fewer responsibilities). We're encouraged to bring these possibilities back into the present.

Cameron has three quizzes in this chapter:
The Virtue-Trap Quiz:
1) The biggest lack in my life is _____.
2) The greatest joy in my life is _____.
3) My largest time commitment is _____.
4) As I play more, I work _____.
5) I feel guilty that I am _____.
6) I worry that _____.
7) If my dreams come true, my family will _____.
8) I sabotage myself so people will _____.
9) If I let myself feel it, I'm angry that I _____.
10) One reason I get sad sometimes is _____.

Leading into the second quiz, Cameron says one of the things blocked creatives often do is say no to ourselves in many small and large ways.

Forbidden Joys: List ten things you love and would love to do but do not feel allowed to do. Post the list somewhere highly visible.

Wish List: List nineteen things you wish, as serious or frivolous as you like but list them as fast as possible, and a twentieth thing you most especially wish.

Don't forget to go on a date with your artist sometime this week and do your morning pages every day!
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