TAW Weekly Check-In

In the midst of all the promo posts, here’s a real one!

One of the things I find really interesting about following The Artist’s Way program – because it happens a lot – how often I end up anticipating the next exercise of the book. That’s before I read it. Last week, for example, I started on a big clean-up. I started in my office, but kept on going (and I still am going). I usually have a big clean of my office after finishing a book – it starts with the filing and continues from there – and often work through the house in the fall. Something about that snap in the air in September makes me want to get organized. This time, I also started to make a list of things that were almost but not quite done. I’m tired of them being around and started to finish them, in succession.

I opened the chapter for week #7 and guess what it’s about? Making room for new things and new luck and new opportunities in your life. And how do you do this? By cleaning up, by organizing and filing, and by finishing what you’ve started. I’d been at it for four days before reading that!

And now that I have a head start on the exercise, do you think I’ll get extra-bonus new things, luck and opportunities? I hope so! There’s lots of room for them in here now and more space to come.

Are you following TAW with me this time? Doing your morning pages and your artist date? How is it working for you this time?

TAW Weekly Check-In #6

I’m halfway through the twelve week program outlined in The Artist’s Way and have reached the chapter about defending your ideas.

“The first rule of magic is containment.”

This is a really potent phrase for me, because I think it’s true. JC is referring to the temptation of talking about ideas before they’ve been nurtured into whatever you want them to be. Her notion is that ideas need a bit of time and a bit of protection, so that they can grow – and you can figure out what you want to make of them. Too often, in her view, artists (writers, too) talk to other people about ideas too early. Those ideas then either get squashed – as being dumb or unmarketable or derivative – or modified by the input of those other people, as they try to be helpful. Either way, the idea will never become what it could have been. Often, it dies on the vine.

This is one of my issues with critique groups as well as the whole business of pitching ideas before the work is done. I hate pitching. I’d rather write the entire book first, but the business of publishing isn’t geared to that mindset. Similarly, I am leery of critique groups and their helpful input – too often, I’ve seen promising authors lose the sparkle of their voice or have their exciting ideas made “safe”.

Something that also happens in publishing is that people pass on projects, but don’t give the real reason why. They will invariably blame the work itself. Sometimes the issue is the work, but other times, it’s the market. Publishers believe that readers want to read what they are already reading, so any idea that differs radically from what is currently selling will have to be brilliantly written to find a placement. If it’s less than brilliant, the rejection will often focus on the quality of the work, not on the current state of the market.

For example, the first romance I wrote didn’t ever sell. I loved it. Despite that, it gathered a stack of rejections. No one loved it but me! It is likely true that I didn’t have the skill to tell that story as well as it could have been told – it is also true that it was a paranormal romantic suspense. In 1990, there was no market for paranormal romantic suspense. Now, there’s tons of it being published – in fact, my Tor books (the ones with the fallen angel heroes) could be labelled as paranormal romantic suspense. Part of the issue may have been the work, but the lion’s share of the problem in placing that work was that there was not perceived to be any market for it at that time. That’s changed. I can see a similar pattern in other discarded ideas of mine that never made it to a sale or to fruition. The market – or the perceived market – was the greater issue.

The TAW task this week for me is to rummage through my box of proposals that never made it past the pitching phase. I’m looking forward to digging through that box, and picking yet another idea to write up into a book. There’s some interesting stuff in there – it’s going to be hard to choose!

How are you doing with TAW this time? Writing your morning pages? Going for your artist date? Taking that weekly walk?

TAW Week # 5 Check-In

Am I the only one doing The Artist’s Way this time?

One of the things that I really like about this program is that it doesn’t provide a simple answer. Because of the many exercises, it’s very personal – you can do the program over and over again, finding something new each time. One thing that is consistent for me is that TAW is very invigorating. It’s pretty typical for me that about halfway through the 12-week program (that would be now) I find myself all fired up and filled with lots of new ideas. That’s invigorating, and I like it a lot. It’s also good timing this time through, coinciding as it does with the arrival of autumn. Autumn is always a very productive time for me – it’s the cooler weather, I think – so TAW and autumn together means that I’ll be pounding out the pages for the next couple of months.

All good, as I have several Dragonfire deadlines to meet!

Maybe I should start TAW every August 1.

How about you? Is the program giving you results this time? If you’re not doing TAW with me, do you find that there are certain times of year that are more productive for you than others?

TAW Week #4 Check-In

It amazes me how quickly this program seems to move. Time flies even faster than I realize. Already, I’m at week #4, which is one third of the way through the program.

I remain challenged by the weekly Artist Date. I either do a bunch of Artist Dates in a row, or none at all. One per week appears to be too disciplined for me, but I’m working on it. The daily walk and the daily morning pages are easy.

I felt due for some play time last week and took a few days away from the glowing screen. I canned my peaches for the year, which is always very satisfying. It was exciting to fire up the computer yesterday (did it also enjoy the break? Ha!) and get back to writing again. The break made everything seem fresher to me, which can’t be a bad thing.

I’ve also been playing around with my work schedule over the past couple of weeks, and trying alternative time slots. I’ve been trying to work on two projects simultaneously – a persistent challenge, and that I’ve yet to master. It feels like a riddle to me, one that has an answer that I just have to find.

Overall, this trip through TAW seems to be about re-examining assumptions for me, and playing with new strategies.

How about you?

TAW Week #3 Check-In

How are you doing with The Artists’ Way this time around?

I’m finding it a bit tough to stay organized this month. Going to RWA National always throws my game a bit, but this year, things are even more disheveled. I think maybe that’s because I finished Zoë’s first book right before I left, then came home to promote WHISPER KISS and REBEL. Then my editor and I have been playing with the schedule, pushing deadlines around, because she’s booked for maternity leave and wants to ensure she gets the Dragonfire books edited on time. All good, but there seem to be a lot of proverbial balls in the air. Plus it’s hot and my brain doesn’t work so well in steamy weather. My best August trick is canning peaches, not juggling variables and finding creative solutions!

But, I’m doing my daily pages. Yay! I always have trouble fitting in the artist date, but this week, I have one all planned and booked. 🙂 This second TAW book – Walking in the World – promotes a weekly walk to sort out your thoughts, in addition to the morning pages and the weekly artist date. I usually walk daily, but in this weather, I haven’t been quite that consistent. I’ve managed maybe three walks a week. I’m hoping this week to get back into my daily walking rhythm – it does clear my thoughts, and it makes me feel better, too.

One thing I’m taking away from the exercises this time is the concept of taking charge, or as I say in my writing workshops, being an active protagonist. That’s probably because there were a lot of workshops and seminars on similar topics at the RWA National conference. Lots of food for thought, there, what with all the changes in publishing. I’m having a look at what I do in my writing career, looking for areas to improve – mostly, they’re on the self-promo side, as it’s not my natural tendency to do that stuff. I’d rather barricade myself in my office and just write! I have a few new ideas and hope to slide some of them into play soon. Can’t hurt to be more proactive.

How about you? Any progress or revelations this time?

TAW First Week Check-In

Once again, we’re doing The Artist’s Way together – or I’m doing it and am hoping that some of you will join me. I’ve moved on to the second book in Julia Cameron’s series, which is called Walking in the World. It’s similar but explores new areas. I’ve done TAW about 8 times over the past 15 years, so it’s time for some variety. We’ll check in each Monday – yes, I’m late this week – and maybe compare notes. The program takes 12 weeks.

What I noticed this first week was how much I need reminding to do my Artist Date. I’m trying to schedule one in each week – I do forget, so maybe if it’s on the calendar, I’ll remember. Still doing my morning pages from last time, so that’s all good. And her new assignment is a weekly walk of 20 minutes duration – well, I do that every day already, and always go for more than 20 minutes, so I have that covered.

What about you? Any revelations or reminders on the first week?

New TAW Adventure

Some of you might recall that I worked through the exercises in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way last winter. The plan was to continue with the new habits learned in the book for three months, then begin the next book in the series today.

So, I’ve started to read Walking in the World, and will be following that 12 week program for the next couple of months. You’re welcome to join me!

Did you continue with the morning pages and weekly artist dates from TAW? On a scale of 1 to 10, how creative are you feeling?

Remember…

Just a quick reminder, in case you’ve forgotten – we have a date to start another run through The Artist’s Way, beginning August 1. I posted about it HERE.

So, if you’d like to participate, get your notebook and your copy of one of Julia Cameron’s books, and prepare to take yourself on artist dates. I think it will be a great way to kick off the fall!

Final Check – The Artist’s Way

This was my week #12 – the final week – in the Artist’s Way program by Julia Cameron. As always, I’ve found it a really helpful program in keeping me writing happily. As always, I did really well with the morning pages and the exercises, and wasn’t so consistent about taking a weekly artist date. I have one tomorrow, so I’m still trying!

In the last bit of the book, JC suggests making a plan to continue, even though the weekly exercises are complete. I’m going to continue with the morning pages – that will be easy as they’ve become a habit – and I’ll try to be better at remembering to take a weekly artist date. The plan is to continue this for three months, then work through the next book in JC’s program. It’s called Walking in the World, and I’ll begin those exercises August 1. You’re welcome to join me for another journey in creativity.

How did you do with TAW this time? Did you do your morning pages? Did they become a habit for you? Did they help? How about the weekly artist date? Overall, did you find TAW a useful exercise?

TAW Check-In

I kind of fell off the wagon, in terms of making weekly posts about progress on The Artist’s Way. I’ve still been doing my pages – missed a few artist dates – and am still finding great value in this trip through the program. I have found it funny how my experiences have synchronized with the book this time – even though I don’t specifically recall what’s in each chapter, it seems to be exactly right each week.

For example, I had a long talk with someone about discipline a few weeks ago. This person was amazed that I write every day, and insisted that I must have terrific discipline. I was a bit flummoxed by this, because I’m pretty sure I don’t have a lot of discipline (otherwise, I’d have only one knitting project on the go at one time, and other things in life would get done routinely or on time.) Lo and behold, the chapter I read in TAW the next day talked about the difference between discipline and enthusiasm. Aha! Enthusiasm I’ve got by the truckload. That made perfect sense, and tied into my convictions that everyone should do something that they love. When you love your work, it doesn’t feel like work (or discipline). It’s so exciting and interesting that each day, you’re anxious to get back to it. I love writing and feel very lucky to be making my living by doing it.

I’m also very stubborn about making my living by writing. Publishing can be a tough business and every publishing career is marked by successes and failures – the writers who love writing, though, are the ones who pick themselves up afterward and write something else. I’m always amazed by how many writers I’ve known or met over the years are no longer publishing – they’re probably not writing either. Because their motivation was rooted in something else than enthusiasm for writing itself, they hit one of those bumps in the road and decided to do something else. Something easier. I hope it’s something for which they have enthusiasm.

My other recent aha-moment with TAW was the section on creative u-turns. Actually, I always enjoy this section. It allows you to acknowledge choices that you might make differently the second time around – just reviewing them makes that learning exercise possible. This exercise extends beyond writing and publishing and into the rest of life, which is always interesting.

There are other sections that don’t have a lot of meaning for me – the part about jealousy, for example, or the section on workaholism – but overall, I’m finding this a potent trip through the book and its exercises. How about you? Are you still doing your morning pages? Where have you gone on a good artist date? (I need to do one this week.) Are you having any breakthroughs or making any progress? Are you more productive creatively?