Have you experienced the sense of frustration which comes from staring at a blank piece of paper (or a blank screen, or a blank canvas) and honestly questioning the validity of you being there in the first place? Merely moments ago, you may have been wishing to write, and you have probably even started. Now, nothing happens. What if the conversation is no longer valid; when did I think my contribution was even worth making; how is it possible to be creative when there is a list a mile long to conquer; surely there is a better way to use my time...
This is a very different experience to what happens when you can’t think of an idea. When you are bereft of ideas, it can be a simple process of accessing the many tools to ‘spark’ an idea – using lists, images, sounds, experiences all as a departure point. You can be thoroughly exhausted and reach for your file / folder / drawer to access reference material of some sort and then just write.
No, this is much more serious than that. This is when you seriously doubt your ability to contribute to the conversation at all.
Julia Cameron is an award winning writer and the author of thirty books, fiction and non-fiction. It is the non-fiction books which are the bestselling works on the creative process. To simplify this amazing body of work into one book is not my intention, but if you have experienced the wracking emotions outlined in the introduction, The Artist’s Way, which is a self-read 12-week boot camp for creativity, designed to release and renew creative energy and help the artist (or would-be artist) focus on a life littered with creative pursuits. It may just provide the solution!
‘The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. The Artist Date need not be overtly ‘artistic’ – think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play. Since art is about the play of ideas, they feed our creative work by replenishing our inner well of images and inspiration.’
So – I did... take myself on an artist date. It was an incredibly blissful, beautiful, inspiring couple of hours.
Firstly, I went to a new kitchen shop. Yes, a shop. It is located in a stunning old building, the original brick work peeks at you from obscure vantage points around the roof line. The space is full of the accoutrement which we are seduced into thinking we couldn’t do without. It also houses a cooking school – and as I dropped in, all I could hear was the gentle hum of creativity as a group were massaging dough on the benches. I promised myself I would actually stay for longer next time I dropped in, to have a coffee and soak up the energy.
Secondly, to Simon Cleary’s book launch. Closer to Stone, was launched here in Toowoomba. He had ‘come home’ to share his success with his parents, school friends of old, and even past teachers. Here I learned that passion for writing can and does start at school, but this doesn’t necessarily translate into being the ‘best’ student. I am deeply engrossed in the book now and will be reviewing it with David Ilife on Monday 21st May on ABC Regional Radio.
Then finally, I went to an ADFAS lecture delivered by Robin Haig on the The Ballet Russes. Other than the incredible collaboration which exists across the arts – Picasso was inspired by the dancer Nikinsky, and Coco Chanel designed costumes – it was Diaghilev, Director, who managed to demonstrate an incredible talent for developing the talents of others! After the lecture, I made mention of this ‘fact’, yet the others around me had not taken this away at all. This helped me experience a huge paradigm shift. It is not what we say that is important, it is how the reader ‘hears’ it.
As I arrived back at home, the detritus from the family making an evening meal, the laundry which seems to have taken over another room, the confronting list on the fridge as to what ‘has to happen’ all didn’t look so bad. I had arrived completely liberated, ready to be creative and continue to nourish my inner artist.
I ate, left the sink burgeoning with the dishes, read a story to my youngest, happily laying there talking about the day, had a glass of wine with my husband... and as the house slipped into a lazy slumber, I booted up the computer and wrote,