Week 11, entitled, “Recovering a Sense of Autonomy”, taught the importance of nurturing and establishing one’s identity as an artist. Establishing our identity as artists requires that we separate this identity from external things such as money, critical acclaim, random opinions, and even the quality of the work. The quality of the work tends to ebb and flow. As Cameron puts it “sometimes I will write badly, draw badly, paint badly, perform badly. I have a right to do that to get to the other side. Creativity is its own reward” (p. 180).
Nurturing the artist requires that we pay attention and notice the things that boost our creativity – and the things that drain it. Certain friendships, surroundings, activities, work environments, and entertainment support our artist selves. Others drain us and detract from our creativity. It is our responsibility to stand our ground unapologetically and remain true to what nurtures us. In the end, what nurtures us as artists nurtures the environment and those who love us, because we show up as our best selves.
Another important self-nurturing activity is exercise. Cameron promotes exercise as, primarily, a tool to circulate creative energy from our heads to our bodies and back again. The fitness component is secondary. By tapping into the sensory experience of exercise, and its capacity to push us past our previous limitations, we learn to do the same with our art. It can clear our heads in a way that no other activity can.
My exercises of choice are walking and yoga. I do both more for the mental and spiritual benefits than for physical fitness. Whenever I get “busy” and neglect these activities, I feel a certain cloudiness and restlessness that distract me. I feel less centered and more consumed with lower-level concerns such as competition and praise. I become obsessed with the quality of the work and lose the playful spark that often leads to brilliance.
Ultimately success for an artist implies endurance. Creativity comes when it comes, so it is the artist’s responsibility to show up regularly, prepared to receive and transmit the creative impulse. Creativity is a discipline; not something that occurs once and then lasts forever. Therefore, each day, each project, each work of art is a part of the past. A successful artist has to start over day after day, project after project, and receive fresh inspiration. In short “the stringent requirement of a sustained creative life is the humility to start again, to begin anew” (p. 182).
May each of us begin anew today and pursue the creative life with joy and perseverance.
Now go follow your bliss…
Cameron, J. (2002). The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path To Higher Creativity. Penguin Putnam Inc.: New York.