O God, Help Me to Be a Better Artist

I’m usually quite happy with my personal allotment of skills and talent. I feel free to create and find joy in the process. That is until I start surfing the internet and looking at the work of others. That’s when envy and feelings of inadequacy filter in. Then I start to feel stupid and childish.

I look at this blog of fiber artists, or this one (Lyric – her name is even cool). Or how about this woman’s machine quilting? Flawless. And this lady with all her Creative Conversations. Or how about this one, who is even making money doing what she loves.

Hang on, there’s a blind turn and some fog up ahead, I think it’s time for me to check out Step 10 in The Artist’s Way. Be right back.


Okay, I’m back. For those of you who are new to my blog, let me take a moment and fill you in on a little background info…

I began The Artist’s Way, a “12-week course in discovering and recovering your creative self,” in August. I have taken more than 7 months to do 9 weeks of work. Yes, I’m a slow learner and stubborn as a mule. And that is why I call it a 12-step program instead of a 12-week program, so I can take as long as I need . :O)~

Today I am at Step 10: Recovering a Sense of Self-Protection. The chapter opens with:

“Creativity is God energy flowing through us, shaped by us, like light flowing through a crystal prism. When we are clear about who we are and what we are doing, the energy flows freely and we experience no strain. When we resist what that energy might show us or where it might take us, we often experience a shaky, out-of-control feeling. . .Every creative person has a myriad of ways to block creativity. Each of us favors one or two ways particularly toxic to us because they block us so effectively.” -Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way, Chapter 10

Julia Cameron’s list of creativity blocks include: alcohol, drugs, sex, food, work, family/friends, and money – and I’ll add acedia and envy to the list. Creativity blocks distract us from our creative work, they keep us busy and get us into trouble.

I must confess that I had already dealt effectively  at least two of the creativity blocks on the list yesterday. No, three blocks. Oops, four. Yes, four. Or maybe five. And although I had no idea that I was avoiding creative U-turns at the time (I thought I was just resisting temptation), I am rather proud of myself.

How did I get on the road filled with creative blocks and U-turns? It all started with a simple disappointment. 20unhappyI had finished the comfort quilt for the grandchild of a deployed soldier. Simple pattern, lots of exciting fabrics. Quilting done, binding tacked down, label and picture labels sewn onto the back. Feeling pretty high on my little dream of success, I threw the quilt into the washer, the last step. Done. Finito. Project, check that box, completed.

But then, when I pulled the quilt out of the dryer and saw the faded image of soldier and child, I nearly cried.

But I didn’t cry, I put the quilt down and made myself a bacon sandwich. And then I ate a bowl of cereal. And then, just when I thought of something else to eat, I realized it was 4:30 and if I was to attend my yoga class at 6:30, I was going to have to stop eating.

Maybe I didn’t need yoga class. It was raining (still is), it’s grey and dark (still is), it costs money, it’s far away and I’m out of energy – but not anymore, I went to yoga class. *patting self on back* And you don’t really need to know the rest of the details of my other U-turn avoidances, just know I avoided well…except for the acedia and envy. Those two were my friends this morning.

“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. Rather than paint, write, dance, audition, and see where it takes us, we pick up a block. Blocked, we know who and what we are: unhappy people. Unblocked, we may be something much more threatening—happy. . .As we become aware of our blocking devices. . .the block will no longer work effectively. Over time, we will try—perhaps slowly at first and erratically—to ride out the anxiety and see where we emerge. Anxiety is fuel. We can use it to write with, paint with, work with.

Feel: anxious!
Try: using the anxiety!
Feel: I just did it! I didn’t block! I used the anxiety and moved ahead!
Oh my God, I am

-Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way, Chapter 10

At this point in the game, I normally give up playing. I put away my toys and go to bed for a while to sleep it off, so to speak. But I rarely finish the project.

Today, I’m finishing the project. Today, I am excited! And today, I realized that I am not even dealing with the REAL creative block of fear and anxiety, but I will. What is the REAL deal? Hint: it’s something about “Mary”, a project I feel driven to create, but am too frightened to begin.

“How often—even before we began—have we declared a task “impossible”? And how often have we construed a picture of ourselves as being inadequate? . . . A great deal depends upon the thought patterns we choose and on the persistence with which we affirm them.” -Piero Ferrucci

O God, help me to be a better artist. Help me to hear your voice and answer your call. Deliver me from myself.

TODAY’S EXERCISE: My brain. And I’m exhausted!


~ by Kimberly Mason on March 20, 2009.

One Response to “O God, Help Me to Be a Better Artist”

  1. Kim, Thank you so much for the nice comment you left on my blog and for mentioning me in this post! I’m so glad you left a comment so I could find your wonderful blog! I can’t wait to read more…you truly have a gift for writing. Now I must get out my “Artist’s Way” and revisit it.
    Thanks again, Vivian

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