Week four of The Artist’s Way is the one I like the least. It’s a week of reading deprivation. Yes, really. No reading!
“For most artists, words are like tiny tranquilizers. We have a daily quota of media chat that we swallow up. Like greasy food, it clogs our system. Too much of it and we feel, yes, fried.”—Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way
The week of reading deprivation is supposed to help silence our distractions, open our senses to the world around us, and allow us space to become more productive. Cameron warns the reader to be mindful of other word pollutants that may show up during in the week “—long, gossipy conversations, television bingeing, the radio as a constant, chatty companion”. She claims that all of those things hinder our ability to hear our own inner voice.
How well did I do with my week of reading deprivation?
- I didn’t read any books, any blog posts, or scroll through any social media feeds.
- I did read and answer email and comments on my own blogs and social media postings, but I only checked my inboxes and notifications once or twice a day.
- I did occasionally visit The Tao of Dana’s Artist’s Way group on Facebook to support and “like” what others in the group are sharing about their experience. I did not, however, click on any article links that were shared.
Filling the reading void
I’ve had a lot on my plate for some time now, so my reading had already been somewhat curtailed. The only time I really missed reading was in the hour between when I crawl into bed, and when I turn out the lights. Some evenings I turned off the lights as soon as I went to bed, other nights I did a little journaling.
During the day, while I’m at work, I have a nasty habit of checking my social media feeds between tasks, but that hasn’t been a much of problem for me lately. I’ve been working on fun projects in recent weeks, so I haven’t been that tempted to get sucked into the social media trap. That said, I’ve been playing a lot of YouTube in the background while I work. That may qualify as one of the “pollutants” I was to avoid, but it really was quality programming. Most of what I watched/listened to related (directly or indirectly) to what’s in the pages of The Artist’s Way.
I also listened to a lot of music in week four. Singing and dancing when nobody’s watching can be a hell of a good time!
Side effects of reading deprivation
This week, I got really annoyed with all the crappy “little things” in my environment. I fixed, replaced, and tossed out all kinds of stuff that wasn’t serving me.
For months now, the charger on my toothbrush has been a pain in the arse—sometimes it would work, most times it wouldn’t. It was really pissing me off, so I broke down and got a new one. I can’t begin to tell you how nice it is to not be annoyed almost every time I brush my teeth!
Last Sunday, I made an impromptu trip to the mall to shop for clothes because I couldn’t stand the thought of wearing shirts with holes for even one more day. If you didn’t know, I hate shopping for clothes, and, I hate spending money, but, guess what? I had fun (because I found stuff that fit me, was comfortable, and looked good on me). Yay! Now, every time I open my closet I feel energized instead of bummed out!
I had a breakthrough at the end of week four!
On Monday, the last day of week four, I started reupholstering a chair for the guest bedroom. The chair is only a few years old, but the room it sits in is getting a makeover, and the old fabric doesn’t work with the new colour scheme. Reupholstering a chair is something I knew I could do, but had no idea how to do it. This is exactly the type of thing that causes me to procrastinate to the max. I typically spend days, weeks, or even months (over)thinking how best to approach something I’m uncomfortable tackling. Not this time—I just did it! I did not know from step to step what I would do next. I just kept moving forward, trusting that the pieces would fall in place. They did. The chair was finished in two days! This is huge for me! My usual fear of f***ing up didn’t get in my way.
The updated chair.