My blog hasn’t seen much love since I joined 2U mid-2017. I have been spending the past two years learning as much as I can on the job (and have been recently promoted to senior engineer!) as well as developing my creative interests outside of work. I immersed myself in writing classes at Catapult and Asian American Writer’s Workshop, danced every week even performing at Barclays Center, and started a book club for Asian women that got featured in the New York Times.
All of this has been a ton of fun and I have been more than happy to spend my time doing all of these different activities, but for some time I could sense that I was defining myself only by my accomplishments. There didn’t seem to be much else I could easily share with friends or strangers without spiraling into insecurity. Who was I without the doing? I kept running around ticking boxes hoping that the act would adequately convince me that I was creative “enough”, cool “enough”, and smart “enough.” I didn’t believe it. I still don’t believe it most of the time. But through regular therapy starting this year, connecting and sharing vulnerably with other creators (most of whom feel the same way!), great resources like Hurry Slowly, Hey, Cool Life and The Creative Independent, and lots of journaling, I am learning to sit with my feelings without passing judgments on them. I am seeing where my insecurities have come from, how they have protected and served me thus far, and what it might look like to put them down and pick up new thoughts about myself instead.
I can’t recall who first told me about Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way last year, but it became a clear candidate for the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon—once I heard about “morning pages“ I was suddenly seeing and hearing about it everywhere. Several friends championed the practice of morning pages, three pages of longhand stream-of-consciousness writing upon waking up. These pages are meant to be a mental dump to free one’s brain; the thoughts can be incoherent, repetitive, or brutally pessimistic. One is not even meant to reread them.
Morning pages is the most well-known ritual from Julia Cameron’s book used by the likes of Tim Ferriss. Upon finding out about The Artist’s Way I did my research (as in Googling, not reading the book like any human living in 2019) and found out the creative personal development program boiled down to daily morning pages and weekly “artist dates“ (solo time to do anything fun and creative, like walking in the park, taking a class, watching a movie, or going to the museum). I rationalized that I was already doing weekly artist dates with dance classes and author talks (true) and that I didn’t need to read the book to reap the benefits (not true). I tried out morning pages on and off for a few months, usually after checking my phone first. Getting to three pages consistently felt difficult. Soon after I forgot about the program.
A few weeks ago I stumbled on Madeleine Dore’s recap completing the full Artist’s Way program. Only then did I find out each of the twelve weeks of the program focuses on a theme, ranging from creating safety for the inner artist child to trusting the unknown that comes from creativity. Inspired, I (finally!) got the book and have started the twelve week program. Committing to a practice for twelve weeks makes me very nervous—I am aware of my tendencies to burn bright and flame out when it comes to new projects. However I have increasingly found that sharing my new projects and ideas keeps me accountable and allows me to receive support from others. I am hoping that picking up this blog and documenting my progress with The Artist’s Way will do the same.