Archive for Repetitive Work

The Artist’s Way: Week 6

Posted in Creativity, The Artist's Way with tags , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2011 by Gideon K

Slightly later than intended, but it’s been a thoroughly heavy weekend.

Days I did my morning pages: 7/7

A few days in I finished the notebook I started when I began the course and had to start writing in a new one. The new notebook is also A4 paper, but the lines are a lot closer together, so there are far more lines, and thus far more writing is required in order to fill 3 pages worth. I’m fine with this – it feels right to be intensifying the process round about now. I was getting too comfortable with the old way.

However, 2 of the days since I started the new size pages, I only got about one and two thirds of a page done. This is roughly equivalent of 2.5 – 3 pages in my old pad. I wasn’t slacking, I just ran out of time. So I’m going to count them as done anyway. I did the work.

The Check-in asked me how I feel about the pages. I love them. They have become my pathway into stillness and release. I engage with them and play with them and confess to them. Now I’ve had an insight and inspiration regarding how to approach using them. We’ll see what happens.

Artist Date:

Yes, but not in the solitary sense. I met up with my friend Isaac and we worked on some Jazz theory and improvisation for guitar, 2-5-1 changes, which chords A Harmonic Minor Scale works best over etc. It was a good start and great fun.

Also, I’ve just spent the past weekend on a meditation retreat on a farm in Shropshire. That was really something. Not what I expected, because I didn’t have any expectations. I realised a lot about creativity, flow, growth…

I’d never really done any meditation in the ‘sitting still on the floor for half an hour’ kind of way, but it really allowed me to get my head around a lot of the changes that have been taking place in me and around me over the past 6 weeks, and further back than that.

I wrote a whole page in my end of week check-in just on issues that have been important to my recovery. I won’t go into them here because to simply list them out would not really explain them and that would not pass on any useful information to anyone. These things may very well come out in later posts I make and articles I write.

The two main things that I took from the weekend that are tangible and for sharing are:

1)      The idea that had not occurred to me until now, of using the morning pages as canvas for writing songs with, and examining the materials I put into songs.

2)      I became aware for the first time, of the destructive potential that comes with all the increased amount of energy you wield when you are going through creative and spiritual growth. Once you are aware of it, there’s really no choice but to just be more conscious and careful about it. It’s easy to destroy things and show the world what a big cheese you are, but that doesn’t bring you any closer to people and doesn’t make responsible, constructive use of the gift.

I had a strange realisation too regarding the ritual of doing a task again and again, be it meditation, morning pages, songwriting, guitar playing, cooking, anything. When you start writing songs, every one of them seems a unique and separate entity. You pay inordinate amounts of attention to every detail and the songs themselves do not always flow out of you because you are still battling with a degree of perfectionism.

When you are engaged in doing something ritualised and possibly repetitive, it’s important to stick with it because your body and mind eventually start changing things and playing with them, because the creative mind does not tolerate boredom. You realise that if one attempt doesn’t turn out the way you want or go as well as you’d like, it doesn’t matter because each new day, each new moment offers a fresh opportunity to try again.

I’ll try and explain this by example.

Morning pages: You do pretty much the same thing everyday – just write, write, write until you have 3 pages. Fine. Once you’ve been doing it for a week, none of them are a big deal or special, they all just flow together and you realise that they’re all just blank and forgiving canvases to play with. None of it lasts and none of it matters, so you just do whatever you feel like writing in that moment. It doesn’t come out good or bad, it’s just you experimenting and indulging any ideas you have. Your responsibility is merely to be true to the moment and get it down.

Songwriting and all creative work should be the same. You keep showing up. You will never run out of ideas as long as you are engaging with some form of action, because the DOING negates any need for THINKING.

It’s hard to explain, but I realised all processes of doing the same thing over and over, like meditation, prayer, guitar practice are all different ways of achieving the same thing – a state of flow, and being ok with whatever point along the river you are because you are simply moving at your own natural speed. You arrive at a place where there is no right or wrong, no good or bad work, only creation and it all comes out however it wants to come out.

Thus there is a specific merit to any work that requires repeated action of a similar kind, because it provides a solid foundation for you to explore and mess with your own parameters, to experiment freely and discover new things.

Side note: I’m so caught up in the process of this thing and flowing with it that I don’t know if I’m completely losing everyone when I try to convey my thoughts about these things.

Apart from that, it was a treat to spend time in the quiet of the country, breathing fresh air and cow shit, and eating nothing all weekend that had not been grown on the farm. I’ve never tasted tomatoes so good in living recollection. A refreshing experience.

The whole weekend felt like a conclusion to one phase of my life, and the pause before the start of another. Nothing to do with meditation or the content of the weekend itself, but the timing was perfect.

The last few months, even the whole of the past year, my only focus has been on getting some work together in a way which I can actually present to people and say ‘This is my work’, and be proud of it, not feeling bad or unworthy because of hang-ups or bad memories to do with how compromised the work has been due to unfavourable circumstances or environments that aren’t conducive to good results. I now have music that I can play to people and feel proud that it met my expectations, and surpassed them, that I’ve done a good job on them.

My whole persona and focus has now shifted. I’m not as inclined to be closed off and outside from society and the world at large, cocooned in a creative cave and waiting to unleash my pretties into the sky. I’m entering a period of engaging and taking on the world. Of reaching out and sticking my flag on top of the mountain that I’m climbing.

It’s a good feeling.

I’ve also had the inner warnings of the fact that I’m coming up to a point where I may be vulnerable and a target for other people. I actually had a really vivid dream the other night where myself and a couple of my friends that I was with became targets of violence simply because we were so open and unassuming in the way we went about our business, and closed off people didn’t take to us very well. It was strange, but I woke up with what I felt was a clear understanding of where this was coming from.

You get to a certain point with growth where your energy becomes palpable to other people. I’ve had this confirmed via discussion with others this week and while it does not make me want to rethink the whole process or journey, I do know I have to take care of how I receive inevitable criticisms from people, and that I must continue to fastidiously do my pages and check-ins in order to consolidate the breakthroughs and realisations I have, or risk losing them to the wind anytime I receive some kind of attack or blow.

I know this may come across as paranoia, but it’s merely a shift in awareness from merely myself, to how I fit in as myself with other people.

The challenge now is to keep going to the end of the course rather than peter out now that I’ve passed the halfway point.