The Sacred Arts,  Writing

My New Artistic Secret, or, Why I Am No Longer a Zombie

You know those days when you have nothing to say, and so you surf around online for some inspiration and the writer’s block only gets worse and then you realize you aren’t very funny or popular and you suspect you may need to lose ten twenty pounds? Then you get caught in a spiraling snare of watching funny cat videos with the sound off and are tempted to emotionally eat the entire jar of almond butter?

Yeah, me neither.

I’ve been working on a project for the past two weeks. It’s a project I heard a fellow blogger mention, and it’s designed to help recover your creativity. I don’t know about you, but the hours I spend in Microsoft Excel and calculating figures leaves my brain resembling a zombie-playing extra from The Walking Dead at the end of every work day. Except instead of brains, I want to devour an entire season of Girls in one sitting as my butt becomes one with my dirty green couch. So yes, my creativity is a spiritual force that needs recovery from the flogging it receives everyday I go in to earn my living.

Somehow, this was the least horrifying picture of a zombie I could find.

I’m sure everyone and their mother has already heard of it, because I’m always the last one to arrive at the party, but it’s called The Artist’s Way and it’s something I’m actually, physically doing, not just reading about and heaping on the pile of “stuff to do later when I actually have time” (currently on that pile: re-organize my closet, put wedding photos in an album, become a ballerina, go to the allergist, buy flea medication [not for me. I don’t have fleas]). I’m always naturally skeptical of self-help anything, but for some reason I knew this would work after I read the forward. Plus, any advice from an artist herself on how to cultivate creativity? Sign me up.

So far, all I’ve done is journal at least three pages every morning and take myself on a few artist dates (outings to fan your creative flames). That’s it. The journaling trick has had the most impact on my output, because ZOMG, if you get rid of all the crap that floats around in your head then your head is free to create poetry or stories or paint something that doesn’t look like it was inspired by an infomercial! So the key to successful writing for me has been…eject all the useless crap from your brain. Especially if you’re like me and you have a lot of detritus floating around up there.

My brain on any given day. That’s detritus, naturally.

You know those short stories I’ve been featuring weekly on the blog? Those brilliant little mental children, as I affectionately think of them? All of those were the result from doing the project, and even better, all of them felt like they wrote themselves – I was just the humble messenger of divine inspiration. Or something. Anyway, the point is, it didn’t feel like work; it felt like mental playtime, which is why most artists create to begin with.

Additionally, I have been painting again. Painting is that lovely hobby that is always the first to go on the back burner when my laundry starts taking over the bedroom and threatens to suffocate the cat. Not only am I rekindling my romance with oil and canvas, I am trying out new styles that focus more on flow than rigid naturalism, as is my usual wont. The result? I will not be replacing Van Gogh any time soon as the most reproduced artist of the decade, but at least I feel exhilarated by my affair with the brush.

van gogh
On second thought, yes, my work looks EXACTLY like this. Who would like to purchase a painting?

The artist dates have been useful, too. I mentioned going on an eight mile hike last week, and it was pretty good for my imagination, which was allowed to roam free for a few hours.  I missed this week’s date (too much grown-up responsibility got in the way), but vow not to miss next week’s.

So even though I’m not being paid to endorse anything, I endorse this. My mind feels incredibly empty (insert snarky joke here) – free from self-doubt, mini-obsessions, and distraction, and I’m only on week two.

Now if only I can find the trick to boosting my readership…


Photo 1, Photo 2, Photo 3


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