AW10: Recovering a Sense of Self-Protection

You know those people who say, “God I miss school. Those were the best days of my life” or “What I wouldn’t give to be a kid again” or “My twenties were the best years of my life”?

I am not one of those people.

And sometimes, Artist’s Way just feels like one giant, pain-in-the-ass reminder of why.

In this chapter, Cameron does, what I imagine to be, a version of Step 4 of the 12-Step Programme where you “take a couragous and honest look at your life and identify negative thoughts, actions, and emotions that have led to or contributed to your addiction”.

In this case, she calls them “The Deadlies” (which I initially read as “the dead lies”), an inventory, so to speak, of all the ways your most popular form of distraction or block – sex, money, food, friends, family, drugs, work and alcohol – has negatively impacted your life and by extension your creativity. In an updated version, I included social media and smoking, and I guess others could include anything from love and sex relationships to shopping to gambling to exercise.

This is the first meaty task after the body of the chapter, which is a lovely deep dive into what she calls the dangers of the creative trail: the ways we block ourselves (The Deadlies), creative U-turns and dry spells, an obsession with fame and credit, and the compulsion and ugly judgement of competition.

“Blocking is essentially an issue of faith. Rather than trust our intuition, our talent, our skill, our desire, we fear where our creator is taking us with this creativity … Blocked, we know who we are and what we are: unhappy people. Unblocked, we may be something much more threatening: happy.”

By the time I was done, I was so goddamn triggered I went into a bit of a Slough of Despond.

poor me

Okay, maybe not that bad, but bad enough for what is supposed to be a cheery writing retreat.

When I drew up my little lists against each “deadly”, I was reminded how much of my life’s energy and brain power up until my early 30s was spent in reeling from trauma, surviving it, managing it and then undertaking the long and, frankly, tiresome process of healing from it.

That’s a lot of youthful energy wasted on young me.

Unfortunately this pattern for early life is fairly common. But some people do all of that and still manage to accomplish something like building careers and businesses and being generally useful to the world. In our the relevant parlance, some people manage to make art from all that personal journeying; funnel all that energy into something creative. I just funneled it inward.

Before I started this Artist’s Way malarkey I would never have considered myself blocked. I’d published books, doodled, understood the inner voice, liked crafting little goedertijies.

And yet, I see now how so much of a block is about the lack of trust in one’s Self and creative impulse and desire; the lack of emotional, spiritual and mental availability to possibility; the lack of faith in one’s worthiness to exist and make sound and take up space.

Anyway. As you can no doubt tell, yet another great week with The Artist’s Way.


Can’t I just be a happy, shiny, making person now?

Over and out, sweet plums.

If you’re on this journey, I hope you’re having a cheerier time of it than I am.


(PS I’ll leave you with this classic…)

Photo by Eric Masur on Unsplash