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The Artists Way

*I am going to breeze past the fact it was over a year since I posted a blog and just dive straight in. I'm currently doing The Artists Way, which if you haven't heard of it, is a book written by Julia Cameron in 1992. It's a 12-week program designed to help re-spark your creativity in whatever way entices you and nurture your inner artist. This is the second time I've done TAW, last year I worked with a group of actors for the latter period of the SAG actors strike. We were led by DuJuan Johnson, an actor and mindset coach, and every week I showed up, we'd set the standard that we would do one of the exercises each week, alongside the Morning Pages and the accountability of the group meant I did the work even when it seemed hard. It was one of the most wonderful things I've ever done and I'm so grateful for the time in the group. As an actor you can often feel guilty of berating yourself for not being an actor if you haven't had a job for a while, following the advice and guidance in TAW permitted me to be an artist in all senses, particularly an actor regardless of when I had last had a job.

TAW is probably most well known for the "Morning Pages". Every day, Julia Cameron sets you the task of writing (by hand) 3 pages of A4 before you start your day. Yes, every single day. It's surprising how quickly this can become a habit and does start to feel as necessary as brushing your teeth.

One of the other lovely things you are encouraged to do each week is go on an "Artists Date". You pick an activity, outing, or experience to go and do, and you do it by yourself. You don't have to spend money, produce anything by the end of it, or necessarily learn anything. I really enjoyed these, I think it's easy to feel guilty for taking time out from the things we feel we "should" be doing and instead do something, just because we want to.

A freshly baked scone, jar of jam, and creative postcard.

Favourites of mine included going to the cinema, taking time to bake a recipe I found written by my Gran, and going shopping for new lipstick in Liberty's (beauty counters galore!) and trying on these extremely inspiring JW Anderson jeans.

A woman in a dressing room wears a striped top and JW Anderson jeans

I found that serendipity meant I had so many interesting things happen during that time, people reached out to work with me, I forged new friendships, and importantly, I really started being kind to myself (more on that at another time).

I'm doing TAW again with a group of friends, and we've reached Week 4. It was one I found extremely challenging the last time around. In week 4 Julia suggests you don't read for a week. This is so that you aren't consuming other people's creativity and instead, you are allowing space for boredom in your life so that your mind can wander, and maybe creativity will strike.

I am a bit of a bookworm so I didn't love the idea of this, I thought I could cope for a week. She then suggests that if you're not a big reader, maybe stop watching TV for a week.

Oh. Ok. No TV then.

No books, no TV, ok I can do this. I thought about it some more and realised that if I wanted that silence to exist, I maybe could stay away from all the social media for a while too, and for good measure, add podcasts into that too. It seems I am a bit of a glutton for punishment.

I was pretty surprised to find that by the end of the week I didn't want to open instagram again, I knew I was a bit addicted to it, and the silence it left me with was refreshing, I knew that once I opened it again I would be hooked once more (I am). I did have to stop myself a few times as I found myself halfway through an article of some description and realised I... was...reading... No TV wasn't the worst, but I realised I used it to fill the silence more often than I thought I did. All in all, I survived (of course) and I had a bit more space in my brain for me. I did get a lot of sewing done that week.

So about 6 months later, here I am again, once more giving up reading, watching TV and going on social media for a week. I'm quite looking forward to it!

The results of this week's deprivation coming soon...

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