Some of us over at the Goddess Circle have been going through The Artist’s Way the last few weeks. It’s basically a 12-week course to unblock your creativity. You’d think a professional artist like me wouldn’t need that, right?
Wrong. While I am pretty creatively free in some ways, I am very very blocked in others. One of those blocked ways is writing. Another is sketching. Anything raw and loose or unrefined gets tangled up in performance anxiety and perfectionism. It’s not pretty.
Anyway, one of the core practices of The Artist’s Way is to write three pages every morning, of whatever comes into your head. You don’t read the pages, you don’t plan for them to mean anything, you’re just clearing out the cobwebs and the dreamsludge and making a clear space in your head for your ideas to bubble forth. I do them on 750words.com, to save my hand from RSI. I get up at 6:30, 30 minutes before my family wakes, and slip downstairs in the dark and quiet to wrap myself in a snuggie with my laptop and Red Bull.
This practice can be pretty painful at first. Barely awake, cold, stiff, cranky. Words splurt out in short, viscous chunks, a phrase here, a phrase there. Sometimes just one word, over and over. Gradually, unevenly, things ease. A full sentence emerges. An interesting idea bubbles forth – or maybe it doesn’t. It doesn’t matter. Clearing space, creating sacred space in your mind.
After about ten days of this, it suddenly got easier. I realized I was looking forward to those few cold and quiet minutes before the dawn, that they anchored my entire day. And the words started to flow more easily, with a velvet frisson of pleasure not unlike the brilliant colors flowing from my paintbrush at other times of day.
The Writer by Heather Keith Freeman
9″x12″, pen and ink on watercolor paper
That’s how this piece was born. The first version of phrase issuing from her fingertips came to me that tenth day of morning pages: “the words stream sweet and soft and slippery like silk from my fingers.”
Image description: A woman sculpted out of black and white gestures gracefully on a background of swirling blue and green. Words flow from her fingers, through the air, and around the curls of her snakelike hair.
The phrases written into this piece are pretty hard to decipher even in the original, but they read:
- words that stream sweet and soft and slippery as silk from my fingers soul sundering wonder and shivering power, silvery flower of my self unfurled
- bold words that thunder through snow and shatter iron
- twisted words that tangle and strip and wither thoughts before they even begin
- tiny words still flow like water droplets from icicle tips in the raw chill of spring melt
- shadow words half-felt fading like dreams
- words that scramble into gibberish when I look to close clawing themselves to pieces like spiders if spisljlkjgahr glajhgakjelag
- ideas blowing over and through my brain like Medusa’s tentacles striving for air strangling for room to breathe and thrive and grow and be seen
This piece makes me happy, and I’m happy with it (two very different things). I’m going through a very rough patch personally, so I’m glad to have had this to carry me through it. It’s very difficult to drown in despair while I’m painting!
Prints and cards of this piece are available through RedBubble.