Editor’s note: This is the 11th installment of a weekly 13-part series. If you would like to join Jessica on her journey, we suggest getting hold of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity or checking out Cameron’s online video course. Best of luck!
I’ve written a lot about fear while blogging through The Artist’s Way, but what I hadn’t realized until reading Week 10: Recovering a Sense of Self-Protection, is that I already do things to block fear – things that also block creativity.
All artists have developed habits – vices, really – that we cling to and use to numb ourselves from the fear and self-doubt that creeps in just when that breakthrough creative epiphany is about to happen. If self-doubt is the negativity that we put on repeat to silence the bursts of creative thought, then the vices are self-sabotage that prevent the actual action of creation.
Instead of powering through the fear by engaging in creative flow, we numb it with distractions.
“We turn to our drug of choice to block our creativity whenever we experience the anxiety of our inner emptiness,” The Artist’s Way, pg. 165.
The Artist’s Way has a method of flipping one’s thinking upside-down. I used to think that folks who made the choice to put their artistic dreams aside to focus on a steady and stable career path were somehow more maturely developed. They made the “better” choice. Why couldn’t I do that, too? I never understood why it was so difficult for me to feel comfortable with what many deem to be a responsible adult life. I watched the years creep by and thought that there was an expiration date to fulfilling my dreams, and surely I was just at the point of turning sour.
The truly evil part of it all was that instead of channeling that fear into creative energy, I used blocks to numb it. In doing so, I restricted my own creative flow. So there I hovered in limbo for years, busying myself to death with tasks that distracted me from moving toward creative goals in a productive way. Truly, I didn’t have the faith to set goals in the first place.
Now I look at things differently. This is my life and I only have one. How dare I let other people – even the invisible menagerie we call “society” – tell me how I should live it? How dare I stand in my own way?
There are many choices in life and we each have our own path. Some people are happy as clams living an art-free life. And there are others I see every day who are still trapped in this soul-numbing place where they don’t feel free to really be who they are meant to be – or at least, able to accept all facets of who they are.
A lot of The Artist’s Way places emphasis on loving, nurturing, even coddling the inner child artist. At some point, however, the training wheels must come off; we must release our hand from the bicycle seat and allow our child artist to ride free: fears and all. If she falls and gets a boo-boo, we’re there to kiss it and make it better, but we’ll never know what will happen – flight or fall – if we don’t just let go and have faith that it will work out OK in the end.
There are just two weeks left and I’d love to hear from you! Let’s keep encouraging one another as we fix our gaze on the finish line. Dream on!
Read the first 10 installments of this series:
- Unblocking the Inner Artist
- Of Monsters and Champions: Let the affirming begin!
- A Case of the Crazymakers
- The Power of Breaking Down Boxes
- The Flow of Letting Go
- The Trouble with Being “Good”
- The Joy of Living Luxuriously
- The Myth of Perfection
- The Beauty of Being in the Moment
- The Language of Loving Yourself