Feeling more creative is something I’ve wanted for many years, so over 15 years ago I bought The Artist’s Way*, a 12 week course that helps you discover or reignite your creative self by making creativity part of your everyday life. Back then I made it as far as page 21.
My work has recently held a Feel Good Festival to help staff feel good. One of the activities was a half day workshop entitled “Developing your creativity, the artist’s way” and with my obvious interest in completing the book I signed up. It was just an introduction to creativity workshop because 3 hours can not match the full 12 week programme, but it was long enough to introduce some of the tools from the book.
What’s on top?
We spent the first few minutes telling a small group of people what was on the top of our heads. This was an unconscious stream of the thoughts that were currently going around our heads. It felt awkward to start with, and not connected to creativity, but actually it helped us all understand that everyone had things going on in their heads so may not always be focussed on the session, and it also cleared my head of some of the little concerns such as where was I going to work for the afternoon as I was at a different site; talking about it reduced my worry.
I can see this could be really useful with family, such as the children when they get in from school and your partner when you get in from work, because it means you can share the little niggles of the day and current concerns without making a big thing of them. However, I see there is a need for trust so people don’t get upset about what you say or try and fix your issues.
In order to retrieve your creativity, you need to find it.
I suspect morning pages are the most famous exercise from The Artist’s Way and are something I’ve tried to do several times over the years, but I think I over thought them.
Morning pages are three pages written by hand of whatever comes into your mind. So they can be a concern you have that you work through, they can be the list of items you need to buy at the supermarket or that you have nothing to write. Or most likely a combination of all of them. This exercise is not meant to produce writing that you develop into works of art, in fact it is the opposite it is to clear thoughts from your head so you can make room for other ones, hopefully more creative ones. Previously I thought I should be reviewing the pages to look for the nuggets of beauty or profound thought, but the workshop trainer said she rarely looked at them and once the notebook was full she’d burn it.
The key thing is there is no wrong way to do the pages, it is about whatever works for you. And don’t worry if your writing is often complaining, angry, bitter and childish the point of the pages is to clear these thoughts from your head to make way for other thoughts. It’s much better to express these thoughts on paper to yourself than your family or work colleagues.
Artist dates are in fact dates with yourself where you have uninterrupted time to nurture your creative self – your inner artist. I think it was about this point that I previously stopped reading the book because I couldn’t think of anything to do, or felt awkward at the idea of doing them. However, on the workshop I wrote a list of 11 ideas, I don’t know if that is because I’m older or the environment of doing it at the same time as other people. Here are some of my ideas:
- read a fiction book while having a bath
- go to a bookshop and just browse
- have a massage
- go clothes shopping for fun without a list of things I want to buy
We also had time to do some other exercises from the book and the trainer provided a list of eight to choose from including a balance wheel which sounds a lot like the wheel of life I’ve used to identify if my life is balanced. I chose to write an encouraging letter to myself and to list ten changes I’d like to make in my life.
At the end of the session, I felt I understood a lot more about the book, but was not convinced it was the right time for me to start the course. However, since then I have written at least one morning page most days and I feel it is becoming a habit I want to retain.
Have you completed or started The Artist’s Way? Did you find it helped increase your creativity? What methods do you use to increase your creativity?
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