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.
“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?