Friday, January 21, 2011

Creativity Exercise: Affirmations

An unfortunate time honored tradition of artists is that mythical belief that in order to be a ‘real’ artist, you have to suffer.    ‘Real’ artists are tortured, miserable, addicted, sad, etc.  Somehow, they periodically emerge from their fog of dysfunctionality to create masterpieces, the genius of which the public attributes to the misery of the artist’s hard living.    This is nonsense. You are much more likely to be creative and inspired when you have a clear head and feel good. 

Affirmations are positive statements about yourself as a person and as an artist that make you feel good.   Julia Cameron, in her book The Artist’s Way, has a whole section on affirmations. [If you don’t already have the book, get it.   It will be one of the best investments in your art that you ever make.]   Most of what I’m saying here, she said first in that book.  Affirmations are the shield you use to protect yourself from others’ artistic or anti-artistic drama.   Affirmations are personalized to protect your specific vulnerabilities.

The first step to creating your affirmations is to identify your vulnerabilities.   Julia Cameron recommends that you have a little chat with your internal Censor by sitting down with paper and pen and writing down all of the awful things that are bouncing around in your head about you and your art.  This might be hard, but it’s worth the time.   Do it.  Right now.  Spend 10 minutes and begin with this:   I     your name here    am a brilliant, prolific artist.  Write that 10 times in a row, then let your Censor loose and see what it says.  Write down all of the nasty stuff that comes out.   All of it.  Do not stop before the 10 minutes is up.

Once you have your list of nasties [Julia calls them ‘blurts’], you know where your vulnerabilities are.   Now it’s time to build shields to protect these parts of you.    Take each nasty and turn it into a positive statement – an affirmation.   ‘You’re a terrible writer’ turns into ‘I’m a great writer’.   ‘You can’t do anything original’ turns into ‘My art is inspired and original’.   ‘You’ll never make any money doing this’ becomes ‘I support myself with my art’.    Do this for every single nasty.  Email me if you’re having trouble with one of these.  I’ll help you turn it into an affirmation. 

The next big objection that frequently comes up at this point is this:  Why should I do these affirmations, when they are clearly not true?  These affirmations are lies.  Every time I say this affirmation out loud, I feel like I’m lying.    

You have a good point; the affirmations aren’t true. Yet.  But remember this:  Your nasties aren’t true, either, and you were willing to believe them.  You have a choice.   You can choose to keep believing the nasties, which aren’t true, and which make you feel bad, thereby decreasing your creativity and productivity.  Or, you can start believing your affirmations, which aren’t true [yet] and which make you feel good, thereby increasing your creativity and productivity [and the likelihood that they will come true.]  Your choice.  You’ve been willing to feel bad before.  Are you willing to feel good now?


1 comment:

  1. Robin, how did I miss this post??? I need this! LOL! And I love your blog- thanks for the time and effort you put into it!


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