Quotes from “The Artist’s Way” Introduction

I’m going through The Artist’s Way for a second time this summer, and I thought it may be useful for myself and others to gather up all my underlines in one place as a handy reference. It’s truly an amazing and potentially life-changing book which I can not recommend more highly. Check it out for yourself here. This week post is on the very beginning of the book, the introduction.

Introduction

Allow yourself to experiment with the idea that there might be a Great Creator and you might get some kind of use from it in freeing your own creativity.” (xi)

You do not need to understand electricity to use it.” (xii)

No matter what your age or your life path, where making art is your career or your hobby or your dream, it is not too late or too egotistical or too selfish or too silly to work on your creativity.” (xii)

In short, the theory doesn’t matter as much as the practice itself does.” (xiii)

Once you agree to clearing these pathways, your creativity emerges.” (xiii)

I learned to get out of the way and let that creative force work through me. I learned to just show up at the page and write down what I heard.” (xiv)

Writing became more like eavesdropping.” (xiv)

Get out of the way. Let it work through you. Accumulate pages, not judgments.” (xv)

The tools in this book are intended as lifesavers. Please use them and pass them on.” (xvi)

Spiritual Electricity: The Basic Principles

We undertake certain spiritual exercises to achieve alignment with the creative energy of the universe.” (1)

You are seeking to forge a creative alliance, artist-to-artist with the Great Creator.” (2)

Leap, and the net will appear.” (2)

How to use this book for your creative recovery

Speed-write through the exercises.” (4)

Pick those that appeal to you and those you strongly resist … in choosing, we often resist what we most need.” (4)

What to expect:

This choppy growth phase is followed by a strong urge to abandon the process and return to life as we know it.” (5)

‘The purpose of art is not a rarefied, intellectual distillate – it is life, intensified, brilliant life.’ – Alain Arais-Misson” (5)

When we engage in a creativity recovery, we enter into a withdrawal process from life as we know it. … Lifting up and away from being embedded in our lives until we attain an overview.” (6)

We ourselves are the substance we withdraw to, not from, as we pull our overextended and misplaced creative energy back into our own core.” (6)

Stop telling yourself, ‘It’s just my ego’ whenever you yearn for a more creative life” (7)

Working with this book, you will experience an intensive, guided encounter with your own creativity – your private villains, champions, wishes, fears, dreams, hopes, and triumphs. The experience will make you excited, depressed, angry, afraid, joyous, hopeful, and ultimately, more free.” (7)

The Basic Tools – The Morning Pages

an apparently pointless process” (9)

three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness” (10)

There is no wrong way to do the morning pages.” (10)

the act of moving the hand across the page and writing down whatever comes to mind.”

‘Oct. 2, 1991 … I am up and have had a headache and have taken aspirin and feel a little better although still shaky.’” (10)

This stuff eddies through our subconscious and muddles our days. Get it on the page.” (11)

The morning pages are the primary tool of creative recovery.(11)

Your Censor’s negative opinions are not the truth.” (11)

Just keep your hand moving across the page.” (11)

the Censor is out to get you.” (11)

Morning pages are nonnegotiable.” (12)

The morning pages will teach you to stop judging and just let yourself write.” (12)

Do anything until you have filled three pages.” (12)

[artist brain] puts odd things together.” (13)

Artist brain is associative and freewheeling.” (13)

Any original thought can look pretty dangerous to our Censor.” (13)

Through meditation, we acquire and eventually acknowledge our connection to an inner power source that has the ability to transform our outer world.” (14)

Insight in and of itself is an intellectual comfort.” (14)

Morning pages map our own interior.” (15)

It is very difficult to complain about a situation morning after morning, month after month, without being moved to constructive action. The pages lead us out of despair anto undreamed-of solutions.” (15)

I will go to the pages and ask for guidance.” (15-16)

‘Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.’ -Pablo Picasso” (16)

The tools may free creative areas you have long ignored or even been blind to.” (16)

If you keep writing even when you suddenly don’t.” (16)

Boredom is just “What’s the use?” in disguise. And “What’s the use” is fear, and fear means you are secretly in despair.” (17)

The Basic Tools – The Artist Date

Doing your artist date, you are receiving – opening yourself to insight, inspiration, guidance.” (18)

An artist date is a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist. … The artist date is an excursion, a play date that you preplan and defend against all interlopers. You do not take anyone on this artist date but you and your inner artist, a.k.a. your creative child. That means no lovers, friends, spouses, children – no taggers-on of any stripe.” (18)

Your artist is a child. Time with a parent matters more than monies spent. A visit to a great junk store, a solo trip to the beach, an old movie seen alone together, a visit to an aquarium or an art gallery – these cost time, not money. Remember, it is the time commitment that is sacred.” (19)

You are likely to find yourself avoiding your artist dates. Recognize this resistance as a fear of intimacy – self-intimacy. Often in troubled relationships, we settle into an avoidance pattern with our significant others.” (20)

The morning pages acquaint us with what we think and what we think we need. We indentify problem areas and concerns. We complain, enumerate, identify isolate, fret. This is step one, analogous to prayer. In the course of the release engendered by our artis date, step two, we begin to hear solutions. Perhaps equally important, we begin to fund the creative reserves we will draw on in fulfilling our artistry.” (20)

Filling the Well – Stocking the Pond

Art is an image-using system. In order to create, we draw from our inner well. This inner well, an artistic reservoir, is ideally like a well-stocked trout pond. We’ve got big fish, little fish, fat fish, skinny fish – an abundance of artistic fish to fry. As artists, we must realize that we have to maintain this artistic ecosystem. If we don’t give some attention to upkeep, our is apt to become depleted, stagnant, or blocked.” (20)

Over-tapping the well, like over-fishing the pond, leaves us with diminished resources.” (21)

work can dry up because it is going so well.” (21)

When we work at our art, we dip into the well of our experience and scoop out images. Because we do this, we need to learn how to put images back.” (21)

In filling the well, think magic. Think delight. Think fun. Think mystery, not mastery.” (21)

A mystery can be simple: if I light this stick of incense, what will I feel? Scent is an often-overlooked pathway.” (22)

Five minutes of barefoot dancing to drum music can send our artist into its play-fray-day refreshed.” (22)

Any regular, repetitive action primes the well.” (22)

Our focused attention is critical to filling the well. We need to encounter our life experiences, not ignore them. Many of us read compulsively to screen our awareness. On a crowded (interesting) train, we train our attention on a newspaper, losing the sights and sounds around us – all images for the well.” (23)

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