Weekly Writing Prompt — February 6, 2013 Edition

I’ve lost count how many years I’ve been sending out these prompts. I know it’s been a lot, however. I hope that it helps keep you focused on your literary passions and continuing to seek out your dreams and goals. 

We are continuing with Week 10 of our group effort working through The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. This week we explore the perils that can ambush us on our creative path. Because creativity is a spiritual issue, many of the perils are spiritual perils. In the essays, tasks, and exercised this week, we search out the toxic pattern we cling to that block our creative flow.

But, before we dive into that, a few administrative notes… We continue to want to make our Web site the best it can be. Please let me know what you would like to see with the Web site. We are open to suggestions. Just remember, this is volunteer work and we have zero budget. Anyhow, let me know and we’ll do what we can to increase the sites usefulness to everyone who calls themselves part of SnoValley Writes!

Also, next work session is Feb. 12 at 6 p.m. I’m looking forward to seeing you all again (and hopefully this nasty crud I’ve contracted will be gone). Please RSVP, so I can lesson plan accordingly. Homework is to just be there and be ready to write.

Okay, onto Recovering a Sense of Self-Protection.

I must say that personally, it’s good that this chapter is coming at this time in my life. Self-protection hasn’t been one of my strongest characteristics and I’ve been working hard to improve that. Won’t you join me?

In Week 10 Chapters, the author talks about the dangers of the creativity trail, workaholism, anxiety, creative drought, fame, and competition. I encourage you all to get The Artist’s Way and read these sections.

Our first work is to take a workaholic quiz:

  1. I work outside of office hours: seldom, often, never?
  2. I cancel dates with loved ones to do more work: seldom, often, never?
  3. I postpone outings until the deadline is over: seldom, often, never?
  4. I take work with me on weekends: seldom, often, never?
  5. I take work with me on vacations: seldom, often, never?
  6. I take vacations: seldom, often, never?
  7. My intimates complain I always work: seldom, often, never?
  8. I try to do two things at once: seldom, often, never?
  9. I allow myself free time between projects:  seldom, often, never?
  10. I allow myself to achieve closure on tasks:  seldom, often, never?
  11.  I procrastinate in finishing up the last loose ends:  seldom, often, never?
  12. I set out to do one job and start on three more at the same time: seldom, often, never?
  13. I work in the evenings during family time:  seldom, often, never?
  14. I allow calls to interrupt – and lengthen – my work day:  seldom, often, never?
  15. I prioritize my day to include an hour of creative work/play:  seldom, often, never?
  16.  I place my creative dreams before my work:  seldom, often, never?
  17.  I fall in with others’ plans and fill my free time with their agendas:  seldom, often, never?
  18.  I allow myself down time to do nothing: seldom, often, never?
  19.  I use the word deadline to describe and rationalize my workload:  seldom, often, never?
  20. Going somewhere, even to dinner, with a notebook or my work numbers is something I do: seldom, often, never?

In order to recover our creativity, we must learn to see workaholism as a block instead of building block. Work abuse creates in our artist a Cinderella Complex. We are always dreaming of the ball and always experiencing the ball and chain.

There is a difference between zestful work towards a cherished goal and workaholism. That difference lies less in the hours than it does in the emotional quality of the hours spent. There is a treadmill quality to workaholism. We depend on our addiction and we resent it. For a workaholic, work is synonymous with worth, and so we are hesitant to jettison any part of it 

In striving to clear the way for our creative flow we must look at our work habits very clearly. We may not think we overwork until we look at the hours we put in. We may think our work is normal until we compare it with a normal 40-hour week. One way to achieve clarity about out time expenditures is to keep a daily checklist and record of our time spent. (I did this in my morning pages for some time…It’s very enlightening.)  Even an hour of creative work/play can go a long way toward offsetting the sense of workaholic desperation that keeps our dreams at bay.

Because workaholism is a process addiction (an addiction to a behavior rather than a substance), it is difficult to tell when we are indulging in it. An alcoholic gets sober by abstaining from alcohol. A workaholic gets sober by abstaining from overwork. The trick is to define overwork – and this is where we often lie to ourselves, bargaining to hold on to those abusive behaviors that still serve us.

In order to guard against rationalization, it is very useful to set a bottom line. Each person’s bottom line is different but should specifically mention those behaviors known to be off-limits. These specific behaviors make for immediate recovery than a vague, generic resolve to do better.

If you really have no time, you need to make some room. It is more likely, however, that you have the time and are misspending it. Your tie log will help you find those areas where you need to create boundaries. Boundary is another way to say bottom line. “Bottom line, I will not ________________.” That is your boundary. (We’ll be practicing this soon.)


And now your moment of Writing Zen:  “Saying no can be the ultimate self-care.” ~Claudia Black

4 thoughts on “Weekly Writing Prompt — February 6, 2013 Edition

  1. Feature request: Maybe its already here and I’m just missing it, but it might be good to have a forum / board system. I’m not sure how active it would be or how much other people would use it, but it might be nice to facilitate inter-author discussions.

    Workaholic: Guilty as charged, especially lately. It can be hard not to be consumed by the world I’m writing about, especially lately as I push to get everything finished. I’d never looked at that as a creativity block! Interesting.

    1. We’ll have to check into it and see if this set-up will allow something like that. But, we think it’s a great idea, Alex!

    2. As a second, we’ve expanded how many comments can have a “conversation” here — so feel free to converse via the comments here.

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