finding the artist's way


i recently dusted off my old copy of the artist's way and set about finally doing the exercises designed to "recover" my lost creativity. easier said than done, as the book was trapped in one of many unmarked boxes in a storage unit in brooklyn. i had been searching online for books and resources regarding creativity, and came across this one, which i remembered that i had bought once upon a time and never read.

i am more of a grazer when it comes to reading--and, incidentally, eating as well--and had skimmed through each chapter rather quickly without ever really internalizing the lessons and insights. boy. i had no idea what would come up out of the depths. so far, the past couple of weeks have been very interesting and certainly worth the hour it took to find it.

Here's a brief excerpt:

"Most of the time, the next right thing is something small: washing out your paintbrushes, stopping by the art-supply store and getting your clay, checking the local paper for a list of acting classes...As a rule of thumb, it is best to just admit that there is always one action you can take for your creativity daily.

By setting the jumps too high and making the price tag too great, the recovering artist sets defeat in motion. Instead of writing three pages a day on a screenplay, we prefer worrying about how we will have to move to Hollywood if the script gets bought. Which it can't anyway since we are too busy worrying about selling it to write it.

Rather than take a scary baby step toward our dreams, we rush to the edge of the cliff and then stand there, quaking, saying, 'I can't leap. I can't. I can't.'

No one is asking you to leap.

Take one small daily action instead of indulging in the big questions. When we allow ourselves to wallow in the big questions, we fail to find the small answers. What we are talking about here is a concept of change grounded in respect--respect for where we are as well as where we wish to go. We are looking not to grand strokes of change--although they may come--but instead to the act of creatively husbanding all that is in the present: this job, this house, this relationship."

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  1. Thanks for sharing, AL. Warren Bennis said it succinctly: "sometimes ambition gets in the way of thought".

    For the past month or so, I've been practicing taking those small steps, making those small plans and following through with the small details... and I can see (and feel) myself, slowly and steadily, being deployed. It's a wonderful feeling :-)

  2. @nanasei: I salute you! Here's to taking baby steps. Save the running for later. ;)

  3. I should dust off my copy... When I first read it I followed each assignment religiously (lol) and it wore me out. When it came to not reading for a week I just couldn't do it! But perhaps it was just not right for me at that point, as reading was the only thing that made me wanna get on a bus and make the journey to a miserable job that I despised.

    I recently read another of her novels 'the right to write'. i owe many learnings to this book - not only about writing but about life.

  4. Thanks for sharing.

    Guess I have to read it too.

    I used to see it on a friend's bookshelf.


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