After taking an unintended and unexpected hiatus, I’m in a reflective mood. My goal to finish rewriting my first draft (the week before last, I think) did not happen but only because my personal life took over from my creative life. But it has proven to me again that my creative spirit is the lifeforce that sustains me. It’s my anchor point, the place I can find my way back to and know for sure nothing will have changed.
When I’ve taken a big break in the past, I begin to panic that I’ve forgotten how to do this. That I’ve lost the ability to write or that whatever magic was responsible for churning out words has left me. This is something I need not worry about. All it takes is getting past the internal censor again (who feeds on these little breaks) and just to begin again. To pick up where I left off, wherever that may be.
One of the best writing books I have read is by Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering your Creative Self. I started working through The Artist’s Way at a time in my life when I had lost my own way. I was stunted in all areas of my life: emotionally, spiritually, creatively. I felt stuck in a job far below my career aspirations. I was also clinically depressed.
You could say I wrote my way free. Or rather, through writing I found a gateway back to myself. Inspired by the exercises in The Artist’s Way I rediscovered not just my love of writing but my lust for life itself. Through completing regular Morning Pages and journaling, I learned to express myself again. I also learned to listen.
Morning Pages is an exercise in purging, in learning to tap into the creative flow by simply plugging in and writing whatever comes to mind for a set amount of pages. It helps to keep the writing pump primed as well as purging oneself of all the mental noise that can block up the creative process and cause writer’s block, artistic deprivation (not allowing yourself to write) and other problems.
There is one exercise that seemingly has nothing to do with writing but is all about recovering the spirit. Scheduling pleasurable activities: actually making a list of things I’d always wanted to do, big or small. Walking barefoot on the beach, visiting bookstores, planning a holiday.
Depression had shrunk my world and I’d stopped doing anything for pure enjoyment. The list reminded me of what I liked and what brought me joy. It allowed me to be kind to myself, to treat myself. Coincidentally (or maybe not) this activity is also recommended for people with depression.
Two big things happened: I recovered from depression (also with professional help), and I started writing again. Writing for fun, writing just for me. I fell in love with creating and living all over again.
I know I will finish my book. The same way I know writing is and always will be my happiness, my cure and my life purpose.