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Most of us can begin our creative dreams in the life we already have. Here's how.

Creating in the Life We Have

This is a post for Week One of the Julia Cameron book, Walking in this World. Join us as we complete this 12 week program together. You can read all the details here.

“There is room for art in any life we have – any life, no matter how crowded or overstuffed, no matter how arid or empty. We are the block we perceive.”

Walking in this World

I think we invent “blocks” for ourselves because they provide us an excuse for not creating. An excuse that feels better than the truth: that we’re scared to create.

We’re scared it’s not good enough, we’re scared we don’t have talent. We’re scared it will be too much work.

Friends nod in understanding when you tell them you haven’t written your novel because you don’t have an office (or time, or a laptop, or a supportive spouse). You feel better. There’s a reason your stuck, and that reason is outside of your control right now.

You’re off the hook.

Too bad those excuses won’t work on me. 😉

I particularly love the story about the artist who couldn’t create because he needed a big studio. When he finally got the studio, he drew a stack of tiny charcoal drawings that he could have done at his kitchen table.

I relate to this because I was convinced I needed a studio to record my podcasts. I procrastinated starting them until I had a studio. When I finally secured that dedicated space, I found it moe comfortable to record at home. On the couch, cat on my lap. No studio needed.

Cameron writes:

“Unseduced by glamour or by drama, their output was both steady and prodigious. This argues that we get a lot further creatively by staying put and doing something small and do-able daily in the life we already have.”

I frequently fantasize about having a Great Retreat, where I can unplug and disconnect and go Write with a capital W. Have someone else tend to the lowly daily details like meals and chores. I tell myself that with an enormous expanse of time and freedom from obligations, a tidal wave of production and inspiration will gush forth from my fingertips.

The truth is, I can be just as productive by sitting down and writing for a couple of hours each Saturday morning at the café.

The truth is, large stretches of unstructured time make me panic. The stakes get really high. If I’m ditching the rest of my life and taking off for the woods To Write, I damn well better come up with something Deep and Poignant.

No pressure there, right?

So as unsexy and undramatic as it is to type away for an hour each night while your partner does the dishes, it can be enough. An hour a night is seven hours a week, and — let me get my calculator — 28 hours a month. Sounds to me like a respectable start on a book.

Most of us can begin our creative dreams in the life we already have.

It’s okay to nurse fantasies of another time and place where we can dedicate our bleeding souls to making art 24/7. But in the meantime, how about putting down 1,000 words between 7 and 8 PM?

Or a 12 x 12 charcoal sketch at the kitchen table?

6 comments

  1. I recognize so much in this!

  2. Hi Kristin,

    I’d like to join along on this journey. I was unable to get the book but picked up the first in the trilogy – The Artists Way. I’m going to begin morning pages and artists date. Thanks for the inspiration I just know I’m going to love this! I’ll do most of the work privately and will probably post some comments. I’d like to include it on my blog but it’s that whole thing Cameron talks about – the feeling of not being good enough to show other people what you are creating, writing, doing if you’re not confident enough in the craft. I could just hear my mother now if she knew I was doing this!!!!!!!!! Boy does Cameron have it right! Thanks again, Shelley

  3. Great post! Great reminder!

  4. Thanks for this post and the official opening of the twelve week on line course of ‘Walking in this World”. I love the morning pages and she’s right that it clears the cobwebs from the mind. Thank you also for the tips on the first chapter, that we can do our best where ever life finds us.

  5. I think those “invented blocks” keep us from doing alot of things in our lives. I know I can’t possibly clean out my basement unless I have the proper equipement, all the members of my family agree on the dispensation of all items, the planets are properly aligned, etc, etc…..

  6. I do this constantly. If I had a better sewing machine, if I had a bigger studio, if I had more room, more organization, more tools, more, more, more. But guess what I was doing this morning during my 1 hour break from my sleeping 9 week old… drawing on ATCs at the dining table with my favorite pens. I didn’t get to color them in yet, but I drew 6 separate ATCs and they look awesome! I felt refreshed and appreciate my alone time so much more. Before Samara was born I had a 14 yo to care for… which, as many may know, they’re pretty self sufficient – especially if you raised them with the life skills that will carry them through life. I had all the time in the world to do whatever I wanted. I constantly got stuck in the infancy of a project. Nothing would get done. I had aspirations to make cloth diapers, toys, dresses and clothes for my baby girl who was fast approaching. I made a lot, but not even half of what I could have or had the materials for.
    Let me tell you, 24/7 creating is the greener grass. I see people with less time get more done. 🙂 Thanks for this post!