rejectionchallenge: (Default)
EVERYONE. I am so sorry. I got busy and then I got tired and then I spent several days forgetting what day it was and not wanting to do anything but watch whole seasons of television in a single day. I'm sorry! I don't think you missed anything life-changing, I hope?

Anyway, I'm back and here's Cameron's task for today.

Choose an object to be what Cameron calls an "artist totem. It might be a doll, a stuffed animal, a carved figurin[e], or a wind-up toy." Choose something you feel protective and fond of. Give it a place of honor and don't harm it. "Honor it by not [being cruel to] your artist child."

My object for this exercise -- I'm not really on board with "totem" -- is a plastic toy figure of Evil-Lyn (it's really spelled like that) from the old He-Man cartoons. I associate her with a Mary Sue character of mine whom I feel protective toward* and who has, typically enough of a Sue, more than her fair share of hidden darkness and hidden strength. I've had it for a long time, but today I took it out of a tucked-away shelf and put her on the windowsill behind my desk. I don't know if it will actually help me to have a tie-in toy from the 80s in my line of sight, but I'll try most things once.


*I use the term Mary Sue with affection; I am 100% in favor of them and I think Cameron would be, too.
rejectionchallenge: (Default)
Remember last week when you wrote down your dream and true north? Now imagine it. Details are good. More details are better. Write down your goal. In the present tense, describe yourself achieving your goal. If it feels right, read this aloud to yourself daily and/or post it above your work area.

Did you do your morning pages today?
rejectionchallenge: (Default)
Read your morning pages!

Cameron suggests doing this with highlighters in hand, one to highlight insights and one to highlight actions needed. Do not judge your pages or yourself.

What have you consistently been complaining about? What have you procrastinated on? What have you allowed yourself to change or accept?

Don't be thrown by black-and-white thinking and reversals: "it's a great job, it's a terrible job", etc.

"The morning pages have allowed us to vent without self-destruction, to plan without interference, to complain without an audience, to dream without restriction, to know our own minds. Give yourself credit for undertaking them. Give them credit for the changes and growth they have fostered."
rejectionchallenge: (Default)
We're always calling ourselves lazy. For “we,” read: I. Maybe you're not like that. A lot of people are.
Cameron says that laziness is the word blocked artists use for fear. I think there's probably some laziness mixed in from time to time, to be honest. But it's important to acknowledge that a lot of what we call laziness might actually be fear – one fear, or a bunch of fears swirling together.

Fear of failure. Fear of success! Fear of beginning and not finishing! Fear of not being good enough! Fear of hurting friends and family! Fear of not being good enough to justify hurting friends and family! As we talked about in the previous week, blocked artists often think in terms of huge tasks and terrifying life changes, instead of small steps. This makes it easy to be afraid.

Disguising fear as laziness makes it easy to laugh with and to keep around. A lot of the time, though, it's still fear. And sometimes a little laziness. But mostly fear.

The only cure for our fears is love. Cameron hopes that by calling fear by its right name, we can begin to show compassion for our artist selves, instead of rolling out eyes and saying, “Lazy.”

The need to be a great artist makes it hard to be an artist.
The need to produce a great work of art makes it hard to produce any art at all


It can be hard to begin, even with small steps. Realize you can ask for help – from friends, from your Great Creator if you're about that, and from yourself. You can say, “I'm afraid,” and expect understanding and support.

Enthusiasm – which Cameron is happy to point out comes from a Greek word meaning “filled with god” – is as important as discipline in maintaining a creative practice. I'm not sure what to make of Cameron's extravagant dislike of the word “discipline,” since she doesn't seem to have any trouble with the practice – that's what “filling the form” and the morning pages are, after all – but anyway, she thinks it sounds boring and is over-emphasized and indulges in some false dichotomies in the service of a very reasonable idea: that if you enjoy what you're doing, you'll be better at it and do it more. She offers a few suggestions for maintaining enthusiasm. One that I like to do myself is switch up writing methods once in a while: see if using markers or your phone or acorn ink changes the way you write. I think it's a good idea, especially when creative work is still incomplete, to set aside some time to entertain your most self-indulgent ideas about the project - -the characters no one else loves, the dialogue that doesn't fit but is funny to you, and so on. Sometimes these can be the seeds of other projects, sometimes they're just a fun way to enjoy what you're creating.

Being blocked often feels safer than being productive – so much so that many people find themselves self-sabotaging just when things are going right. Cameron has a long list of examples of self-sabotage following a success: the screenwriter with an agent interested in this script given a few changes, and the screenwriter doesn't make the changes; the poet who gets approval at the neighborhood open mic, then enters a poetry slam, loses, and stops reading poems in public. She calls these setbacks "creative U-turns." In order to mend a creative U-turn, we have to first admit we're doing it. "Yes, I did react negatively to fear and pain.” Then we can begin to sort it out, to ask for help from supportive friends, and if possible, to get back on track.

You might try asking your artist self some questions at the beginning of a new project. You can ask them again when the work gets difficult or gets stuck.

1) List any resentments or anger you have in connection with this project.
2) List any and all fears about the projected piece of work and/or anyone connected to it.
3) Ask yourself if that is all. Have you left out any tiny bits of fear or anger?
4) Ask yourself what you stand to gain by not doing this piece of work.

Finally, 5) Make a deal with yourself. The deal is, "This week, I'll stop worrying about the quality and take care of the quantity," Leave the quality to chance or future revision or the alchemy of both. Sign it and post it if you want to!

On questions one through three, don't worry about how petty or irrational or insignificant the fears and resentments sound to you. They may all be big deals to your artist.

Don't forget to go on a date with your artist sometime this week and do your morning pages every day!
alexconall: the Pleiades (Default)
Remember last week when you wrote down your dream and true north? Now imagine it. Details are good. More details are better. Write down your goal. In the present tense, describe yourself achieving your goal. Read this aloud to yourself daily and post it above your work area.

Did you do your morning pages today?
alexconall: the Pleiades (Default)
Read your morning pages! Cameron suggests doing this with highlighters in hand, one to highlight insights and one to highlight actions needed. Do not judge your pages or yourself.

What have you consistently been complaining about? What have you procrastinated on? What have you allowed yourself to change or accept?

Don't be thrown by black-and-white thinking and reversals: "it's a great job, it's a terrible job", etc.

"The morning pages have allowed us to vent without self-destruction, to plan without interference, to complain without an audience, to dream without restriction, to know our own minds. Give yourself credit for undertaking them. Give them credit for the changes and growth they have fostered."

Did you do your morning pages today?
alexconall: the Pleiades (Default)
It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing. —Duke Ellington and Irving Mills

Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out your horn. —Charlie Parker

The true name for the root cause of artist's block, Cameron says, is fear. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of beginning. Fear of not finishing. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of abandonment: many young artists try to become artists against their parents' (usually well-intentioned) wishes, and are plagued by the idea that they have to be great artists in order to justify hurting their parents this badly. But needing to be a great artist makes it hard to be an artist at all, and needing to produce great art makes it hard to produce any art at all. Often we term this fear 'laziness', but procrastination and the inability to start a project are symptoms of fear. The only cure, Cameron says, is love: love your artist and stop yelling at them, at yourself.

One thing we often hear is that art takes discipline. To write a novel, for example, requires fingers on keyboard every day. Cameron says that while fingers on keyboard every day may be important, what's truly necessary to complete that novel is enthusiasm. She describes this as "a spiritual commitment, a loving surrender to our creative process, a loving recognition of all the creativity around us". Art is supposed to be fun, she reminds us. Discipline isn't fun. Enthusiasm is.

A productive artist, says Cameron, is quite often a happy person. Someone who's used to getting their needs met by being unhappy—someone accustomed to getting sympathy or attention as a blocked artist—can easily be threatened by that. Being blocked feels safer than being productive, as well, so often we greet our first artistic successes with indifference: it's not impressive, look how much better this other artist is doing. Or we sabotage ourselves. Cameron has a long list of examples: the screenwriter with an agent interested in this script given a few changes, and the screenwriter doesn't make the changes; the poet who gets approval at the neighborhood open mic, then enters a poetry slam, loses, and stops reading poems in public. To recover from such incidents, what she calls "creative U-turns", we have to first admit we're doing it. "Yes, I did react negatively to fear and pain. Yes, I do need help." Then we have to go looking for that help.

Beginning any new project, it's wise to ask your artist some questions, so as to identify and remove any creative blocks before the project gets going. Ask them again when the work gets difficult or gets stuck.
1) List any resentments or anger you have in connection with this project.
2) List any and all fears about the projected piece of work and/or anyone connected to it.
3) Ask yourself if that is all. Have you left out any tiny bits of fear or anger?
4) Ask yourself what you stand to gain by not doing this piece of work.
5) Make a deal. The deal is, "Okay, Creative Force, you take care of the quality, I'll take care of the quantity." Sign it and post it.
On questions one through three, don't worry about how petty or irrational or insignificant the fears and resentments sound to you. They're all big deals to your artist.

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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Twelve-week creativity workshop!

August 2014

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