Week 7, Day 1 of The Artist's Way
Today, let's replace thinking something up with getting something down.
The ability to listen is a skill we are honing with both our morning pages and our artist dates.
The pages train us to hear past our Censor. The artist dates help us to pick up the voice of inspiration. While both of these activities are apparently unconnected to the actual act of making art, they are critical to the creative process.
Art is not about thinking something up. It is about the opposite—getting something down. The directions are important here.
If we are trying to think something up, we are straining to reach for something that’s just beyond our grasp, “up there, in the stratosphere, where art lives on high….”
When we get something down, there is no strain. We’re not doing; we’re getting. Someone or something else is doing the doing. Instead of reaching for inventions, we are engaged in listening.
Art is an act of tuning in and dropping down the well.
It is as though all the stories, painting, music, performances in the world live just under the surface of our normal consciousness. Like an underground river, they flow through us as a stream of ideas that we can tap down into. As artists, we drop down the well into the stream. We hear what’s down there and we act on it—more like taking dictation than anything fancy having to do with art.
(The Artist's Way, 2016, p. 117 – 118)
I am listening beyond my egoic censor.
Give yourself time out to listen to one side of an album, just for joy.
You may want to doodle as you listen, allowing yourself to draw the shapes, emotions, thoughts you hear in the music. Notice how just twenty minutes can refresh you. Learn to take these mini—artist dates to break stress and allow insight.
“In the esoteric Judaism of the Cabalah, the Deep Self is named the Neshamah, from the root of Shmhm, “to hear or listen”: the Neshamah is She Who Listens, the soul who inspires or guides us.”
What is one step towards getting something down that you have been thinking up?
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