Week 7 of The Artist’s Way covers the topic of Recovering A Sense of Connection. The connection Cameron is referring to is the connection to the state of consciousness just beneath our everyday level of consciousness. This is where our art resides. Our job as artists is to log into this level of consciousness and download what we see, hear, and feel. In other words, our paintings, stories, plays, concertos, etc. already exist. The universe reveals them to us according to our level of receptivity.
That receptivity can be dulled and even killed by perfectionism. Often we look at perfectionism as a good thing because it seems to prioritize quality and excellence. However, in reality, perfectionism is “an obsessive, debilitating closed system that causes you to get stuck in the details of what you are writing or painting or making and to lose sight of the whole” (Cameron, 2002, p. 119). The net result is often flat, stagnant work that lacks boldness and originality. Or, even if a beautiful, original work is squeezed out of the perfectionist, because it was born out of Ego rather than Play, it sucks the vitality out of the artist and leeches creativity from future efforts. In the perfectionist mode, art is conjured up and then poked and prodded to within an inch of its life. Often work created this way is left unfinished because it is edited to death along the way. The original creative flame is snuffed out before its time, and neither the artist nor the potential audience benefits.
To avoid this disaster, we, as artists, must “move out of the head and into action” (Cameron, 2002, p. 121). We must be willing to treat our art like we treat newborn babies. They are not finished yet. As humans, we do not drool or soil ourselves forever (most of us). But, as babies, we do. Likewise, our fledgling artistic endeavors will mature as we mature as artists.
Part of maturing as artists involves exercises like the Morning Pages and Artist’s Dates. These activities help us to reconnect to our creative subconscious – and to the beautiful world of Play, where art lives. These activities allow us to identify where some of our negative emotions are coming from and help us to transform them creatively. For example, jealousy is a call to action. When we are jealous of someone, we fear they are getting something that rightfully belongs to us. Rather than stew over the situation or talk crap about the person, we can take actions that move us in the direction of getting what we really want.
Cameron invites the reader to do a simple exercise to transform jealousy. You make three columns. The first column, “WHO”, lists the individual you are jealous of. The second lists WHY you are jealous. And the third column lists a positive ACTION one can take to transform the jealousy into a creative solution. For instance if you are jealous of your friend Sally because she just got her novel published, you could start writing your own novel, or start researching agents to help you get your existing novel published. Or you could save up your money and self-publish.
The idea is to reestablish an authentic relationship to one’s own source of creativity. Doing this requires a shift in perception. It requires one to view the Universe not as a hostile place but as a friendly, inspiring land of possibilities. God is FOR you, not against you. As Cameron says: “Try to remember that God is the Great Artist. Artists like other artists” (Cameron, 2002, p. 119).
Now go follow your bliss…
Cameron, J. (2002). The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path To Higher Creativity. Penguin Putnam Inc.: New York.