When I look back over the first half of the year, I am delighted with how much things have changed. In particular, I am thrilled with how far I have come in embracing my creative side. I have visited more art museums in the last six months than I had in all the previous 40 years combined. I love pulling out my art supplies to do a little coloring, drawing, or crafting at random points in the day. I have committed to my dream of writing and publishing a book some day. After years of nurturing only the right side of my brain, I finally and fully have embraced my creative left side.
I had dipped my toes into the creative wading pool in the past. In fact, I took a writing class almost a decade ago in which we read the seminal book on writing, Bird by Bird. I even bought a bunch of cheap notebooks to hold my daily writing, but they were never used. I was focused on my work life—trying to advance my career. Even though I knew I wanted to be a full-time writer, I never took steps in that direction. I didn’t believe it was possible to write full-time and earn the type of living that I desired. I assumed that I would have to continue working full-time and write on the side when I could… which turned out to be never.
Last summer, all that changed. Out of nowhere, my position was terminated, and I was out of work. I began looking earnestly for new positions in the education field. Fortunately, none of them panned out. After a few weeks of grieving and mourning what I had lost, I decided that I would take advantage of the time off from work to do something I had been wanting to do for years—open a yoga studio. To make sure I was as strong an instructor and business owner as possible, I simultaneously enrolled in an advanced teacher training program. It was in this program that I was introduced to Julia Cameron, morning pages and artist dates.
When I began my daily writing and took time each week to visit museums, I began to feel more enthusiastic and energetic. I loved setting aside time to write and go to art museums. I was able to see some beautiful works of art that inspired me. I wrote a short story and began my memoir. I also started work on my final written assignment for the ATT.
Things hummed along for about four months. Then, about two weeks ago, I started missing my weekly artist dates. I also neglected several days of morning pages. Since late April, I had made no progress on any of my writing projects. I began sabotaging my dream.
I have had to dig a little deeper this week to figure out why. Why am I scheduling so many things on my calendar? Why am I lazing around on the couch watching hours of television instead of writing? Why am I avoiding the things that bring so much joy to my life? The answers all boiled down to one thing: FEAR.
I am afraid of failing. I am afraid my work will be bad. I am afraid I won’t be able to find an agent or publisher. I am afraid no one will buy the work. I am afraid that it will be a one-hit wonder. All of these fears have set me back. I have been spending less time on my artistic pursuits of late. Julia Cameron calls this a creative U-turn.
So, now I am trying to get back on the right track.
Step 1: Acknowledge the situation. Check. I have admitted my fear.
Step 2: Figure out the root cause. I am afraid, because I am more focused on the outcome than the process. I should be writing for the sake of writing, because I have something to express—without worrying about sales and publishing. That’s hard, because my perfectionism is still alive and well. Why would I do something if it weren’t done perfectly? I still need to work on this.
Step 3: Come up with a plan to change your situation. I’ve laid down a few ground rules to support myself in being an artist, including not watching television during the day or for more than an hour a day. This doesn’t guarantee that I will use the time to create or enjoy art, but it gives me a fighting chance.
Step 4: Be kind, patient and generous with yourself as you start to move back in the right direction.
Is there an area of your life in which you are sabotaging yourself—acting against your best interests and desires? If so, acknowledge it, and understand why. Make a plan to change, and be kind toward yourself as you move forward. There are bound to be fits and starts, but success is achieved one step at a time.
Crystal Moore began her wellness quest in 2003 after being diagnosed with lupus. Her quest has led her to embrace yoga, faith, exercise, healthy eating, and relationships. Share her journey.