Honoring my commitment to follow “The Artist’s Way” from beginning to end, I opened my copy of Julia Cameron’s guide Sunday afternoon. Never quite knowing what to expect from these highly spiritual messages, I had been warned of a week in which artists are advised not to read, particularly for pleasure or to waste snippets of time. Well, I discovered that this is it, week four.
I didn’t foresee that being a tremendous hardship, not for a mere seven days. It came as a surprise to discover just how often I grab a book when settling down to some mindless physical task. Discovering this addiction to the written word has become my first real epiphany through the Artist’s Way and made me want to examine the habit more deeply.
I remember that the tendency started before I could even decipher the English alphabet. My mother likes to remind me how her little girl would sit on the potty training seat flipping through a catalog or magazine, admiring the neat lines of print as much as the pictures. At the breakfast table, the outside of cereal boxes became as much a staple as the contents. When finished with whatever interested me, I would consume the ingredients list. This appetite always seemed like a good thing, and it is. However, I do understand the goal of abstinance.
By resisting a constant stream of input, we stop sedating the creative mind with others’ thoughts and ideas. Already, the AW exercises received more attention this week because they gave me something to do besides open the novel I’m currently reading. I actually enjoyed undertaking those assignments and hope this might inspire a new level of commitment to Ms. Cameron’s process.
As I am composing this on Monday, we shall see how the rest of the week goes. I passed two difficult tests so far, restraining myself from pouring over what two talented colleagues have recently composed. One of these treasured individuals didn’t know about this temporary restriction and actually emailed story snippets for something to brighten my workday. She graciously understood my reason for not being able to read, which is turning out to be a real trial!
It’s just a good thing I didn’t read “The Artist’s Way” any earlier than I did on Sunday. Being forced to set aside Kimberly Gardner’s novelette “Phoenix Rising” halfway through would have truly been cruel and unusual punishment.