In 2020, a year of disarray and upheaval for us all, I started The Artist’s Way; a practical and valuable 12-week experience in discovering and recovering your creative self.
It was a challenge to stay the course at times. But most Sunday nights, I would meet online with a small group of artists and writers to chat about what we had uncovered around our creativity that week. As a rallying cry for progress over perfection, what followed was a shaping of my life and work around my vision and values. It helped me get curious and creative and find a deeper-rooted connection with myself and others.
The most notable shift, perhaps, was acknowledging the importance of making time for my ideas. Whether I wrote for 20 minutes upon waking, solved a creative problem during a midday walk or took the time to meditate each day, there was a sense of moving towards making space for fulfilment each day. And in this blog, I share five lessons I learned from finding my way.
Once I decided to prioritise my creativity, it became easier to adapt my approach to life and work and fit it in. I said no to things that drained my resources and yes to things that replenished me.
1. Valuing time
Going through The Artist’s Way is an exercise in setting radical boundaries and honouring them. And I felt empowered to make changes as a result. Once I decided to prioritise my creativity, it became easier to adapt my approach to life and work and fit it in. I said no to things that drained my resources and yes to things that replenished me. Something the pandemic taught me was the value of time because, at points, it felt scarce. I didn’t have the luxury of picking up a hobby while on furlough as many people could because I had to focus on supporting my family and homeschooling our daughter, so I had to be very intentional about cultivating those tiny, precious moments. Everything The Artist’s Way taught me reinforced the importance of this.
2. Prioritising play
One of my biggest takeaways from The Artist’s Way was a commitment to having weekly ‘artist dates’ with myself. Sometimes, this involved meditation at home or walking in nature, which soon became daily habits. Occasionally, I might turn to making a vision board or reading a book I wouldn’t usually read. I even tried my hand at watercolours and worked on improving my calligraphy skills. What was most important to me was engaging in activities that brought about a sense of calm and play because anything that supports our minds will ultimately reflect in what we draw from or bring to the world and those around us. But it’s also important to be kind to ourselves and remember that if we can make room for one small thing each week and make it a priority, it’s a step in the direction of believing in the importance of our creativity and developing better habits.
3. Finding joy in solitude
There’s something about solitude that I find unsettling. Left to my thoughts, I often turn to negativity, and then stuff those feelings down so I can focus on positivity. Quiet moments are easily pushed aside in favour of productivity and it can be hard to be when constant interaction and digital connectivity are demanded of us. The Artist’s Way offered something of a turning point because you can’t fail to unplug when you’re working through it. It can be a lonely experience, at times – digging into old memories and shifting to a fresh perspective – but it played a vital role in helping me to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. The biggest problem with being on isn’t just that it’s a distraction, or even that it’s causing us to compare ourselves and question our artistic practice. It’s that we are losing our ability to think and feel. Of course, changing this requires self-discipline, and since completing the 12-week course it’s become easier to choose solitude and value those deeper feelings to surface.
4. Shaping creative spaces
Is there a place in your home or work where you can dedicate yourself to creativity? Maybe your dining room, office or living room? Or are you lucky enough to have a whole area you can use for your creative practice? The space I choose to be in changes depending on my mood, but if doodling, reading or writing, the sofa is usually my sanctuary. It wasn’t until I started The Artist’s Way that I noticed how nurturing and welcoming that corner of my nest felt. With my plants around me, a favourite playlist and a scented candle, it can transport me to a place of connection. Our environments are vital to our creativity, and having your materials to hand can be helpful too, as then there is no excuse but to begin. If your spaces no longer feel inviting, changing things by moving furniture around or placing inspiration on the walls can help and offer a playful way to get your mind working differently.
I’ve gained so much from the investment I’ve made in collaborative opportunities so I can grow and change alongside other creatives.
5. Connection and collaboration
There’s power in solitude, but it’s vital to balance it with connection. In recent years our routines, lifestyles, and businesses may have shifted beyond recognition. And as we recover from the pandemic, it feels important to acknowledge the benefits of human interaction and the beauty of experiencing life and work and all its highs and lows in the company of others. Completing The Artist’s Way opened my mind to joining group programmes, and I’ve since participated in a handful of coaching and mentoring courses with other business owners. I’ve gained so much from the investment I’ve made in collaborative opportunities so I can grow and change alongside other creatives.
The Artist’s Way isn’t a quick fix. But it’s a beautiful way to get to know yourself and others, seek more joy and play in our lives and work, and make space for the things that excite and nourish you. This 12-week course played a big part in keeping me going through the pandemic, and I don’t doubt that making a commitment to discover and recover myself through The Artist’s Way was paramount to starting These Are The Days and following my own creative path. Perhaps it can be a catalyst for change for you too?