Before I talk about the OCA work that I’ve done I’d like to explain how I’ve battled my latest block of unhappiness and dissatisfaction with my creative work and my poor output.
Firstly a book found its way into my hand whilst I was procrastinating a few more moments away in Waterstones. Steven Pressfield’s the WARofART shone on the shelf and after I’d read the sleeve I knew it was just what I needed “A vital gem…a kick in the ass” – Esquire.
The book is slim and written in a very simple and easy to read way. It’s split into 3 sections:
Book One – Resistance – Defining the Enemy. This book helps to make sense of why we delay and faff and dance round our dreams and desires. It made me see that my resistance is not personal, it’s indifferent, it’s a simple force of nature that has one job which it does very well especially, if you don’t find a way to avoid falling for it’s temptress ways.
Book Two – Combating Resistance – Turning Pro. This book provides a tool box of actions and mindsets that take the sting out of resisting. It recommends that you turn pro, that you sit down and work, that you don’t worry about all the intrusive thoughts about success, the market, why your doing what your doing. This part of the book helps you to step back from the outcomes and to mould yourself into a person with the right attitude. I particularly like the last page in this section: “There’s no mystery to turning pro. It’s a decision bought about by an act of will. We make up our mind to view ourselves as pros and we do it. Simple as that.”
Book Three – Beyond Resistance – The Higher Realm – The most important lessons are in this small part of the book but you have to read this whilst interpreting the language to work with your own spiritual beliefs. Steven is a Christian and uses terms like ‘muses’ and ‘Angels’ He offers alternatives to help you decode the terms in a more abstract way.
This section has the chapters about ‘territory’. Here was the part of the whole book that has helped me the most. It has allowed me to create an area; a place surrounding and within me that is mine. The place where I work. Steven uses examples like: “Stevie Wonder’s territory is the piano. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s is the gym’. Mine is my sketchbook (wherever I am), my studio, my sewing machine. This is my place, where I sit down to work.
Back in the early days, before I came back to art and found embroidery and quilting I bought a book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. This book was a course, several months of tasks, words of wisdom and actions to break creative blocks. This book changed my life, it kicked off sysmic changes that saw me leave my job, become friends with a whole new group of creative people and helped me start to draw, design and sew in ways I could never have imagined.
At the base and as the foundation to all of Julia’s help and advice are the Morning Pages. Every day you sit and write 3 pages of flow of conciousness thought. Everything that’s there: blah blah blah. A total brain emptying action, a way to clear away all the negative thoughts so that you can enter the day with a few less burdens and worries.
So often I believe I am ‘okay’ I don’t need the pages, I have self confidence, I have willpower, blah blah blah! Then bump! I crash, I shrivel and slow down. I pretend I’m okay by doing lots, lots of stuff but it’s all simple and easy and mind numbing. It’s not what I should be doing. Then the anger, the dissatisfaction and the unhappiness creeps back in and I escape it by running away and eating and drinking so I’m too tired to question myself. I convince myself this is what I want.
Steven’s book shined a light at the end of the tunnel and grabbing a new notebook I started back with my morning pages, pouring out all of my worries and insecurities and clearing some space to create my territory, my place to work.
And that should be me sorted for a while, I’m not sure how long it’ll last but I’m going to try and get as much work done as possible whilst I have my gremlins and demons in their cages.
theWARofART – Steven Pressfield