Checking In

For the past couple of weeks, Greenish Lady has been treating us to lovely posts she calls her weekly check in, a technique that she began as part of The Artist's Way, a course in "discovering your creative self." In this program, you use the Check In to monitor your progress toward achieving creative goals. I've actually just started working my way through The Artist's Way book, and I wish I could say this has been a productive week for me creatively, but alas, I cannot. In fact, I feel less creative this week than I have in quite some time, and I'm wondering why. A major requirement of this course is "The Morning Pages," three pages of free writing, preferably done first thing every morning. These pages are meant to be a cathartic, stream of consciousness "brain drain," which will free your minds of the things blocking your creativity. I latched on to this exercise quite happily, and have completed it nearly effortlessly for 13 of the past 14 mornings. I'm actually amazed at the way words flow out of my pen onto the page of the brand new spiral notebook - it's almost as if there is a direct feed from my brain to the paper, and I'm not consciously even thinking about what's coming out on the page. According to the rules of the practice, you aren't supposed to re-read what you've written (and it's a good thing, because I'm writing so fast my handwriting is virtually illegible). So I was hopeful that the clogged drain of my creative plumbing was getting nicely cleared out.

Not so. I'm beginning to think that I'm using up all my ideas in the morning pages! The words and images that usually flood my mind when I'm driving, or walking, or sitting on the porch, making me grab for my Moleskine (or a napkin or the back of a grocery receipt) have been nowhere to be found. My mind feels like an empty, foggy Tupperware container, one whose really good contents have been consumed, so it's been tossed in the sink.

No, that isn't quite true. My mind doesn't feel empty at all, and perhaps that's the problem. For the past week, my mind has been consumed with minutiae of all kinds - catching up on lots of boring office work, preparing for some home improvement projects, involving several trips to places like Home Depot, dealing with repairmen for my mom's central air conditioning which is on the fritz (and our weather is in the 90's), trying to schedule appointments for my annual medical check up and tests, and last, but certainly not least, worried about finding a home for a little dog one of my friend's told me about.

I feel really frustrated with my life lately. I had hoped that I would feel less pressured during the summer. But it seems that life is just as harried and rushed as it was from September to June.

In a sidebar quote in The Artist's Way, Brenda Uland writes: "Imagination needs moodling - long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling, and puttering." Maybe it's a cop-out to say that my creativity is suffering because I don't have enought "moodling" time. But if I'm being honest in my Check In this week, I feel like my creativity has "checked out."