If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know I’m on a journey to become a better writer and a better person.
For the best part of a year, that journey has presented more bumps in the road than anything else. Grief, mental illness, self-doubt, and imposter syndrome reshaped my writer’s block into a writer’s wall, a seemingly insurmountable obstacle that cast a dark shadow over my creative drive.
The idea of spiritual spring cleaning came one day last week, while my husband and I were doing some maintenance work in our apartment.
We have a touch of black mould due to structural problems in our block’s roof. While we do clean the mould regularly, it always comes back, so we took it upon ourselves to spare our lungs and find a semi-permanent solution. We cleaned all the walls and ceilings before painting the worst wall in our bedroom with a sealing primer and vinyl paint.
It took us a full day of standing tippy-toed on a stepladder, bending backwards to wipe down ceilings and walls — but the reward (and the back pain I suffered for a few days after) was well worth the physical labor. Despite the sharp, potent scent of the oil paint which lingered for days, we were breathing better within an hour of finishing.
The day before we set to work, I’d brought home a book — The Artist’s Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self by Julia Cameron — from my studio at the gallery where I volunteer. The book is a 12-week course in (you guessed it) reclaiming your creative drive.
A somewhat embarrassing admission: I’d taken The Artist’s Way to the gallery last March, intending to share it with my fellow artists and crazymakers — but it sat on my bookshelf, collecting dust, while life continued to happen, and occasionally crash, around me.
After months of scrambling up the writer’s wall, I was desperate to start writing again, so I brought the book home. I only started reading it in earnest and doing the activities last week, but I’ve already noticed a tremendous difference in my writing life.
I’m breaking down that wall, pebble by pebble, with daily writing exercises (that I’ve actually stuck to!). Ideas and words are flowing freely again. I’m learning to put my inner critic on “Do Not Disturb” mode so I can finish the damn thing.
Most importantly, I’ve made writing my first priority every single day since I started the course.
So far, the course — combined with all the literal spring cleaning I’ve done in the background — has been a breath of fresh air.
Long story short, that’s where the idea for the Spiritual Spring Cleaning for Writers series was born. This blog series will draw from the advice and exercises in the book, as well as some of my other favorite writing resources.
The only drawback, for me, is the book’s religious content. I’m not religious myself — however, as my entire family is Christian, I very much respect other folk’s beliefs and their right to those beliefs. I do tend to gloss over some of Cameron’s affirmations that creativity is a divine gift from God — rather, for me, creativity is a gift from Mother Nature.
Which leads me to one of Cameron’s most important points: “Remember that this recovery is yours.” Feel free to customize the activities, the affirmations, and the advice to your unique needs.
I cannot recommend The Artist’s Way enough for writers who, like me, are experiencing what Well-Storied’s Kristen Kieffer calls “a creative winter”. (You’ll notice I reference this post a lot on my blog because it so accurately describes my experience with writer’s block.)
Note that I am not an affiliate marketer. I’m not earning any commission by promoting Cameron’s book. I’m sharing her insights because I believe in them wholeheartedly. The only thing I’m “getting” out of this is a renewed dedication to creativity — and that, to me, is worth more than all the money in the world.
Here are just a few of the topics and tools the series will cover:
- The creativity contract
- The morning pages
- The artist date
- Affirmative weapons
- Letters to the editor
- Examining anger and shame in our writing lives
- Differentiating between useful and useless criticism
Are you ready to dust the cobwebs off your creative life? Join me on this spring cleaning journey. It’s time to take back control, my friend.
Grab The Artist’s Way here and follow along with me as I work through the course. (As the old adage goes: the more, the merrier!) Or, stay tuned for the Spiritual Spring Cleaning for Writers series as I share some of the insights, advice, and exercises I find most valuable.
Next week, we’ll cover the first step in our collective creative journey: the creativity contract.
What are your favorite writing resources? Got any techniques for reclaiming your creativity after a long dry spell? You know what to do, my friend. Comment, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn — talk to me!