So last semester Amy Hackworth, a wonderful writer and person, came to my class to talk about being a ghost/co-writer for this book. She was hilarious and humble and great to listen to. She also mentioned that she had started reading THE ARTIST’S WAY and that it was kicking her butt.
Kicking her butt?
Why would anyone want a book that kicks their butt?
So then I bought it.
It’s going to kick my butt.
It’s about finding our inner artist, or, in the words of the author, “A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.”
Not bad, eh?
I started reading and it was good. Pretty good. She’s helped a lot of people, yadda yadda yadda. if you really do what she says, you’ll be come the artist you always wanted to be, etc. etc. etc.
Then she said, people get good ideas in the showers.
She said that! And we all know that I wholeheartedly agree. I do! I said it last week!
So then I was sold.
Here is the passage . . . it’s about how it’s important to fill the well, so to speak:
“The artist’s language is a sensual one, a language of our felt experience. When we work at our art, we dip into the well of our experience and scoop out images. Because we do this, we need to learn how to put images back. How do we do this? . . . Any regular, repetitive action primes the well.
Writers have heard many woeful tales of the Bronte sisters and poor Jane Austen, forced to hide their stories under their needlework. A little experiment with mending can cast a whole new light on these activities. Needlework, by definition regular and repetitive, both soothes and stimulates the artist within. Whole plots can be stitched up while we sew. As artists, we can very literally reap what we sew.
‘Why do I get my best ideas in the shower?’ an exasperated Einstein [SEE? WE ARE JUST LIKE EINSTEIN] is said to have remarked. Brain research now tells us that this is because showering is an artist-brain activity.
Showering, swimming [EMILY], scrubbing, shaving, steering a car . . . all of these are regular, repetitive activities that may tip us over from our logic brain into our more creative artist brain. Solutions to sticky creative problems may bubble up through the dishwater, emerge on the freeway just as we are executing a tricky merge.
Learn which of these words best for you and use it.” pp 21-23
That was long. Sorry. But I think it’s so true. And it gives me motivation to go into my floor scrubbing with more anticipation (I just stepped on a quesadilla earlier today, btw). My house is going to be spotless and I am going to have thousands of fabulously creative ideas!
At the very least, I am going to look at mundane tasks as opportunities to think, to create, to work through writing problems.
I do this a lot anyway–thinking and creating during mundane tasks–but I don’t know that I utilize all this energy the right way. For example, after a school meeting the other night, I was walking in the dark to get to my car alone and instead of thinking about my WIP, I was thinking about how I was going to be attacked and why would they attack me? I’m fifty thousand years pregnant? And I imagined what I would say to them, how I would dissuade them (I came up with some good stuff) and if it didn’t work, I thought about how the chalk drawing would look on the school playground. That would be a difficult crime scene to maintain. And then I thought about how they would write it up in the morning papers and then I thought, no one ever reads the newspaper anymore and that’s kind of sad and then I thought, I am very disturbed.
I’m going to try to be less disturbed. That’s one goal I made after reading a little bit of this book. I’m going to use my quiet alone time to think about my fake characters kissing each other rather than being attacked in dark alleys.
Another thing that I’ve gotten from the book is that she makes you commit to writing three pages every morning. Long hand (I typed mine because I don’t follow rules). As fast as you can. No thinking. Whatever comes into your head. You don’t ever read the pages again, they aren’t supposed to be pretty or nice or well written. They are just BLAH all over the page. Whatever comes to you. It can be horrible thoughts, ramblings, things you have to do that day, a dream you had, your worries, ideas, whatever.
I tried it this morning. Again, I couldn’t believe how disturbed I am. Ha ha ha. But also, I couldn’t believe how fun it was. And how many things popped into my head and how refreshed and ready for the day I felt when I was done.
So a recap: Use your mundane, repetitive tasks to create AND write three pages as fast as you can every morning right when you wake up (she says you should get up a half hour early to do this–I’m not sure that is necessary).
Whoever wants to do this with me (even just for a week), I welcome your companionship.
And if any of you feel like getting the book, I do think it is worth it. A writing group could do it together–it’s a twelve week course. I’m making myself do it starting this week and when I’m done I expect to come out a completely enlightened spiritually creative person. I’ll let you know if it works.
p.s. ann tagged me too. I’ll do it. I promise. Someday.
p.p.s. saw this contest on John Cusick’s blog. This is a great opportunity!