I have been stuck on Week 3 in the Artist’s Way for two months. Sad, but true. I have still been intermittently writing my pages and going on Artist Dates; but I haven’t really been sticking with the program; doing the exercises, etc. The biggest reason that people give for falling out of the Artist’s Way is that it is so time consuming. This is true. It does take quite a bit of time; at least an hour per day. I think that the other reason that people fall out of it is that it requires you to dig in and touch places that you might not want to touch. In fact, it requires you to poke those places especially hard, because they could be the places that are most likely keeping you blocked. It feels easier to walk away from the path that you know you should be on than it does to to face the things that are keeping you off from it. However, it doesn’t make much sense to embrace a lifetime of anxiety because you aren’t doing what you are meant to do in favor of temporary relief.
The first three weeks of the program have a lot to do with letting go of impediments, whether it is letting go of your inner critic/editor, or letting go of toxic relationships with other people. I made it through the first two chapters with flying colors, and took the major step of going public with this blog. I did that even though I was terrified to show my writing to anyone. The way I look at the world has changed a lot from just those two weeks. However, Week 3 is something that I clearly have a problem with. It is called “Recovering a Sense of Power.”
The hard thing about chapter 3 is that to recover a sense of power, you also need to take responsibility. You need to look at what you are doing that robs you of a sense of control over your own destiny, and at what other people in your life are doing to do the same. I think that the reason that I have been stuck here is that I have a problem with letting go. Of anything. I am a pack-rat, both physically and emotionally. I am a big fan of shrouds and safety blankets. I like, to a certain extent, security. This means that I have trouble letting go of anything that I once hid behind, particularly images. This is what makes it hard for me to completely let go of smoking. I have trouble letting go of anything that can be an excuse; like being fat, or being too “busy,” for example. I have trouble letting go of anything that has been in my life for a long time; like toxic relationships. All of these years I have thought that I have no will power. No strength. The truth is that I have extreme tenacity and an unusually strong will, but that I have been using those character attributes against myself rather than for myself. I already have the tools, I just need to work on transforming them.
My guiding question right now is, in the words of a famous hash-smoking caterpillar, “whoooooo are yooou?” I feel like at this point in time I have a pretty good grasp on who I am at my core. The exercises in Chapter 3 have helped me find that person even more. Now I need to work on becoming that person outwardly, and to do that I need to hold on to her, and let go of the other things that are trying to destroy her. When I can do that, I will know that my sense of power is recovered. The thought of feeling really in control of my own destiny has been creeping in for me, and is really exciting, rather than terrifying as it has been in the past. I plan to finish my Chapter 3 exercises and do my artist date tonight and tomorrow. It will feel good to finally charge forward again!