Musings about the writing life.

Friday, July 19, 2013

How to Live Like an Artist

A Workshop led by Elaine Connors
Thursday, July 18th, 2013
6:30-8:30 pm
Carolina Learning Connection

"Being an artist is not about being able to draw a straight line, it's about self-expression." --Elaine Connors.

"How to Live Like an Artist" was an excellent workshop led by Elaine Connors. We discussed how artists make artistic decisions, how rituals are important, and how to listen to our inner compass.  "How to Think Like an Artist" might have been a better title for me because it wasn't about how to apply for grants or how to divide your time or how to use paint, etc.  It was a lesson on how "to be."

"Rituals can be anything from spraying yourself with rose water to lighting a candle.  It's important though to let your body know that this is what your doing now... listening for the answer to 'What do I do next?'"

We started with a breathing exercise.  It's so hard for me to sit still and be still so meditation always makes we want to bolt out the door, but I do want to explore it a little bit more.  It is definitely a way to start listening to your inner compass.

My inner compass has been telling me to avoid writing altogether and lately I'm much happier playing guitar.  But I know myself, and I know that I will need to get back to writing soon to feel happier too.

I talked about my resistance to "showing up for the muse" and Elaine suggested the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield which I will have to check out.

I've read The Artist Way by Julia Cameron who suggests writing "morning pages": journaling three handwritten pages at the beginning of each day and taking yourself on artist dates by yourself at least once a week.  I miss journaling and do want to get back to that.

She said the best video on the subject of creativity is a Ted Talks by Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote Eat, Pray, Love:

Another idea we talked about was the idea of Kaizen, a Japanese term that means "breaking it down into small pieces.  Writer Anne Lamott is famous for talking about this concept in her book on writing, Bird by Bird.  She is also known for saying it's part of the process to have "shitty first drafts."

We did a bunch more exercises that were very helpful in visualizing what you want to do to be creative and now I'll just have to follow through...

I'll sit down.  Carry out my rituals.  Ask myself what is the next step.  And wait for the answer.