Tuesday, June 30, 2009

enthusiasm it is.

I'm a few weeks behind the rest of the group in the Artist's Way Book Club, but this experience has been invaluable. I am discovering things about myself that I never realized and my creativity is overflowing into all sorts of areas, even new ones such as baking{which my husband has no complaints} and a greater awareness of my desire to help others live inspired lives. I am holding a small event with some friends called, "Inspire: A Night of Discovering Your Creativity" and I'm so excited... more on that later.

Last week I read Chapter 9: Recovering a Sense of Compassion. There were a few points that really stood out to me. I'd like to share them with you.

The need to be a great artist makes it hard to be an artist.
The need to produce a great work of art makes it hard to produce any art at all.
(pg. 152.)

I've dealt with this one a few times, just a few. For example, I've heard this thought once or twice... "Are you making any money with this?" or "Can you sell that?" I become consumed with the fact that I am not shipping out products multiple times a day. Not surprisingly, I tend to experience moments of "creative drought," after this, until I realize I paint to paint or I sew to create, not to put some money in the bank. Now, I'd gladly accept the profits of my talents, but to get lost in that concept will only send me to the land of eternal creative-nothingness. I don't ever want to visit there.


Setting impossible goals creates enormous fear, which creates procrastination, which we wrongly call laziness. Do not call procrastination laziness. Call it fear. Fear is what blocks an artist. The fear of not being good enough. The fear of not finishing. The fear of failure and of success. The fear of beginning at all. There is only one cure for fear. That cure is love. (pg. 152)

I must confess I hate the idea of failure (who doesn't), but that I have been more afraid of success than failure. Some people have called me crazy. I remember once there was this guy I liked and one night during a long conversation about life, hopes, dreams, and all, I asked him, "Have you ever been afraid that all your dreams might actually come true? Have you ever thought about the great responsibility that would come with those dreams, that it might be too hard?" "No," he said. He thought that made no sense. {Perhaps, his thoughts never got that deep.} In case you are wondering, that almost relationship, never became a relationship. Sometime later, I met Matt and he had much more to say on the subject of dreams and the responsibility and commitment to those dreams. He actually understood how I could ask such a question. That, along with many other reasons is why I said, yes, when he got on one knee and held up a pretty little box with an even prettier little ring in it.

Finally, my third excerpt.

"It must take so much discipline to be an artist," we are often told by well meaning people who are not artists but wish that they were.... As artists, grounding our self-image in military discipline is dangerous. In the short run, discipline may work, but it will only work for a while.... We admire ourselves for being so wonderful. The discipline itself, not the creative outflow, becomes the point.

That part of us that creates best is not a driven, disciplined, automaton, functioning from willpower, with a booster of pride to back it up...

Over any extended period of time, being an artist requires enthusiasm more than discipline. Enthusiasm is not an emotional state. It is a spiritual commitment, a loving surrender to our creative process, a loving recognition of all the creativity around us.

Enthusiasm (from the Greek, "filled with God") is an ongoing energy supply tapped into the flow of life itself. Enthusiasm is grounded in play, not work. (pg. 153.)

When I read this, I was so moved that I felt like the words were jumping off the page and dancing with me. Yes, that made sense. I was going through this time where I kept thinking, "My art needs more discipline, more discipline, please." Obviously, that didn't work. I could be more disciplined in my life, my habits and exercise, but in my art, I needed enthusiasm. I needed to be filled with God. I find myself remembering this idea on a daily basis. I've noticed, the more devoted I am to my Savior, the greater the creativity that I feel. It makes sense, yes?

Like, I said, it's been a great journey so far. If you are interested in reading more, you can find The Artist's Way here.


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