I first heard about The Artist's Way (TAW) years ago. I heard that it was a book about rediscovering how to be creative. I also heard that it talked a lot about God... or 'God bothering' as one friend put it. TBH, the latter put me off it. Put me off for years. Maybe a decade plus. But at some point I picked it up at a charity shop, I don't even know when. This summer I found it again, and decided to give it a go.
The books is structured so that each week has a different theme, a reading, a choice of tasks to do and a weekly check in. Plus you are meant to keep a daily journal (of sorts) and a weekly artist's date (time alone to nurture your inner artist).
I know that I like doing these sorts of things with other people. I find it really motivating and supportive. I asked a few people, and one friend said that she was up for it. We had a chat and decided that we'd try doing it by the book (rather than taking our time as the God Bothering friend suggested), and having a weekly check in either chatting about it or if we couldn't chat then we'd send each other video check ins.
For the first three weeks, I was doing my journalling and exercising, and going on dates and sketching more than I had in years. It was pretty enjoyable and fun to be expressing myself in this way.
Then came Week Four: Integrity. One of the tasks was Reading Deprivation. No reading for a week. No books, no googling, no reading articles online. Nothing. As if that wasn't challenging enough I extended that to a Media Deprivation including social media, tv, podcasts etc. While I wanted to go all in, I felt like I'd still want to check in email occasionally so I decided to only check my personal email once a day and to I'd reduce the frequency of how often I checked my work email. So a some what mysterious post went up on on Facebook and Instagram and I disappeared for a week.
The timing was... interesting. It included two days of travelling including a long layover at an airport. And three days when Tristan was away for work, so evenings to myself. Plus I was ill one day, and then got my period.
I mainly kept to it. I read a couple of recipes one day. I did some research for some travels that we had coming up and couldn't wait a week. I decided I'd used WhatsApp as a form of direct communication not just a way to idle away time so I used that to organise things with friends. I felt they were permissible.
Even given those transgressions, let's just say... no reading and no social media left quite a vacuum. I often feel like I have a lot of time, but now I had so much time. And I wasn't really sure what to do with it. And it was certainly uncomfortable. At times I felt bored, and other times I felt lonely.
I was also a quite shocked how often I'd go to check my IG, FB and email and I'd have to catch myself. I tried different hacks like turning my phone on airplane mode or leaving it far away. My friend moved the apps to the last page on her phone which I thought was a good idea.
With time I learnt to feel increasingly comfortable with the discomfort, and then I started explore what I could do with my time. Some of the things I did with it, as recorded in my notebook:
- rested/slept more
- did my TAW work (wrote up notes in my note book, did my tasks, my artist date etc)
- art: sketched out some ideas for a mural including a parakeet and a potential background
- cut and painted my nails
- danced around a bit
- got a bit bored
- checked out perfumes and bought one. First one I've bought since I was in my teens but been looking for years
- checked out watches and bought one. First one I've bought since my teens but been looking for years.
- took time to reply to my work emails. To really empathise before writing.
- uploaded photos from my Cambodia trip soon after coming back
- had dinner with friends
Over the week, I realised that I didn't want to just fill my time. I wanted to allow the space. And in doing so, I did things I'd do anyway like the TAW work, but I also did things I don't often do like my nails... and some things that hadn't done in years. And this was just one week of no reading and social media.
Allowing space also meant I checked in with myself about how I was doing, and what I really felt like doing in that moment. Sleeping or resting came up more often than I expected. During this week, I went to bed and to sleep earlier, and that got me thinking about how often I would check social media before going to sleep.
After the week was over, I was a little hesitant to get back online. And I was a little horrified how quickly that all came back. It's been a few weeks, and I actually really miss that vacuum. I want to take more time offline so that I can allow space for my creativity.
So who's up for giving it a go? Or have you done something similar? How did you find it?