How are you coming along with your Morning Pages, Artist’s Date and Affirmations? These are essential tools in this process and really can make a difference.
My artist’s date this week was a simple one – I spent an afternoon at the library, browsing books & magazines – and generally soaking up my environment. Then, I went to a cafe with my iPad and work on Artist’s Way tasks for over an hour. It was a wonderful and refreshing artist’s date – and I think my inner artist is quite happy for the time being.
So on to those tasks I promised you. These are tasks to help us recover our sense of safety after dealing with the many years of less then supportive attitudes regarding our artistic leanings from friends, family, teachers & culture.
The first task is identifying those enemies of our creative self-worth. Julia calls them “Historic Monsters” and states that they are the building blocks of our core negative beliefs. Think about that teacher who put your down. A friend or parent who suggested that you should focus on a “real” career and keep your music or writing in the realm of hobbies. So your job is to identify three of them – yes, even the teacher who returned the poem or story that you had proudly written with so many red marks that you could barely make out the pencil lead you had used to write it.
Writing a Horror Story
Okay, done? Now you’re going to write out one horror story from your monster hall of fame (yeah, I know – it might be a tad difficult to limit it to just one). Jot down as many details as you can – what room you were in, who else was there, how you felt, etc. You don’t need to write much – you just need to identify and remember.
“It is always necessary to acknowledge creative injuries and grieve them. Otherwise they become creative scar tissue and block your growth”
One of my historic monsters was a ninth grade teacher who, upon seeing my drawing, sneered and said, “Kid, whatever you do, don’t give up your day job.” He said it loud enough for the entire class to hear and there were several snickers as a result. I still remember the feeling as the red crept up over my face. I never attempted to sketch anything after that and managed to convince myself that I am no artist. That belief is still strongly ingrained today. Funny, I had completely forgotten about that incident until I did this exercise. Apparently, some of these incidents may lie deep in our unconscious for decades.
Pick a Card – or three
If you are having a difficult time recalling, draw three tarot cards to represent those three historic monsters and see what – or who – pops to mind. Oftentimes, the tarot does an excellent job of unlocking those unconscious monsters!
Once you got your story written, draw an X through it. Or cut it to shreds. I personally found this exercise helpful and even a tad liberating.
Now on to the positive. In this task, you’re going to write a “letter to the editor” in your defense. You can even mail it to yourself and Julia says that it is fun to write this letter in the voice of your artist child. For example:
Mr. Assermelly (my 9th teacher) is stupid, weird and he smells. Oh, he lies too! Roger so too is a good drawer – Mr. Assermelly is just a big jealous old dummy who can’t draw himself. He also has a big nose.
Who’s Your Champion
Now you’re going to identify three old champions of your creative self-worth. This is your hall of champions, those people in your past who encouraged your creativity and helped you along with encouraging words. Julia says that if you are stuck, look at any positive memories you might have. Who made you feel good about yourself? Where were you? Why did you feel good? Once you identify these compliments/encouraging words, write them out and put them someplace where you can see them. Put the paper at your favorite writing spot or in your car – what’s important is that you see it on a regular basis and remember.
You can also draw a couple of cards from your favorite Tarot deck. I randomly drew the High Priestess card and after a moment of studying the card, I thought about my 10th grade English teacher, someone else who I hadn’t thought about in years. Back then, our class was required to keep a journal as an assignment and hand it in every Friday. There were never any red marks on any of the entries, only commentary on the last page – and I always looked forward to her commentaries. I remember in one instance, she wrote, “You have a real knack for storytelling. You should continue to develop this.”
How about you? Who’s your campion?
The Thank You Letter
Once you’ve determined your old champions, select one of them and write a thank you letter and mail it to yourself. If you know your champion and know where he/she lives, you might even want to send it out to them for real. Everyone loves hearing positive feedback and YOUR letter of encouragement to one of your champions just might be what they need at the moment. Everyone likes to know that they made a difference in someone else’s life.
I encourage you to spend an hour so doing these exercises, as they can be very eye-opening. I did mine on my artist date at the coffee shop!
By the way, feel free to discuss your progress or your general thoughts on the program thus far in the comments.