Entering week four of the Julia Cameron “Artist’s Way” workshop, my friends and I face a difficult challenge. For this seven day period we are not supposed to read – at all. Already I have fallen back into my word addiction, haunting the aforementioned forum this fine Tuesday afternoon despite best intentions.
I succeeded better yesterday, putting back the magazine in my dentist’s waiting room unread. The periodical leaped into my hands, I swear. Seriously, without a novel in hand, my brain automatically sought another distraction.
And mental distraction is exactly the thing Ms. Cameron wishes we would avoid. Without constant informational inflow, our thoughts might turn inward. Scary notion, huh? Less frightening, we might find ourselves doing something constructive. She hopes a new outflow will nudge aside artistic blockage.
Admittedly, I still spent some time watching television last night but I’m keeping such mind numbing activity to a minimum. As a result I found some positive and even playful substitutions. In one day I enacted several reading alternatives that would not have occurred to me most other weeks.
Waiting while a loved one received a physician’s care, I called my parents. Later I flipped through a photo album before recreating a favorite image on manila drawing paper. The resulting art is amateurish, certainly, yet the process was fun and rewarding.
A friendly, self-proclaimed comedian friend of mine pointed out that I’m actually reading as I prepare this post. I had to laugh. Even Julia Cameron’s writings offer some contradiction.
For example, in one paragraph she warns against filling our inner silence with things like television (as I mentioned above), gossipy conversations, or constant radio chatter. On the following page she lists some other things people can do besides read and tops the list with listen to music. Perhaps her mention of the radio refers to talk shows, for that matter.
At any rate, I intend to do my best at promoting inner quiet. Who knows what new activities my brain might cook up next? On that note, it’s time to check the mailbox and maintain the silly hope my postman didn’t delivery a tempting new comic book.