Wednesday, October 17, 2007

permission to be creative

I have started an Artist's Way creative cluster at work. We met today at lunchtime to talk about it, and will meet for 3 more weeks as we begin the 12 week program. The Human Resources Department agreed to advertise it as a "lunch and learn" class. These are one-hour classes put on by employees who have a particular interest or expertise. They're free to attend, and usually fun and informative, and you get to know what your co-workers are interested in and good at.

Our HR department booked a room at the Arts Centre for us, provided cookies and lemon water (we bring our own bag lunches) and bought everyone who signed up a copy of the book.

I was careful when I set this up, not to represent myself as an "Artist's Way Facilitator." I just wanted to get a group of people together who would do the program at the same time, share insights, help each other with roadblocks and have some fun.

If you don't know the program, it's based on the work and writings of artist Julia Cameron, who developed it as a course of study and practice for people to free themselves up to live their lives with a greater creative connection to the universe and themselves. It's a lot about making creative living and thinking and doing a priority, and also shunning the internal censor that says "thinking of yourself as an artist is an egotistical conceit." I tried the program once before on my own and quit after 8 or9 weeks. I figure doing it in a group will be something like a running group. I'm more likely to go the distance if it's not solo.

So today I mapped out 50 minutes of talking and playing to get us started. Eight people showed up, and 2 more will be there next week. We played with plasticine clay, talked about our reflections on the introductory chapters of the book, thought about what might be difficult to do in the program (like daily morning pages, a weekly artist's date, maybe up to an hour a day to read and think and do creativity-releasing exercises). Everyone seemed upbeat and interested. We finished by each writing a letter of encouragement to ourselves. I have the letters and will mail them in a couple of days, so we can receive them just before our next meeting.

We'll do the program on our own each week, and meet to share. In between we can be in touch if we like. After 4 weeks we'll decide if we want to continue in any form (follow up meetings, group emails, maybe a blog) as we continue with the 12 week program. I am hoping that it will mostly be about sharing and giving each other courage. It's easier to tell someone else they deserve to let go and be expressive, curious, playful, connected to a spiritual creator, than it is to say that to yourself. So we can help each other this way.

I'm optimistic, and getting over the idea that it was a pretty vain and puffed-up idea to think I could pull this off. People came, they played, they left smiling. Now I have to let go of that aspect and get on with doing the program myself. Morning pages day 1 - tomorrow.

question: have you done the Artist's Way?

mompoet - liking adventures, especially with other people who prefer a life out of the ordinary

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