So, as I may have mentioned before, I’ve been working through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way for a while. (I’ve actually spent more than one week on each chapter, though each chapter is supposed to be one week.) This week, I finally got around to Week 4, and found a terrifying–for me–surprise.
Cameron wants “blocked creatives”, the audience for this book, to go a week without reading anything other than the questions–or, as they are termed in the book, “Tasks”–at the end of the chapter. Seriously, she means no reading, not even for work or class, and she also suggests limiting TV and movie watching.
Now, I don’t see any way around me doing some reading at work. I have to read what my boss writes so I can type it. I have to read legal proceedings to see if there are important dates to put on the appointment book. I have to read the appointment book. Sometimes I have to research and read decisions of various Courts as well as legal statutes and such. I have to check my boss’s email. Those are all in my job description as office Jill-of-all-trades.
But, that leaves a lot of leisure reading that I actually can avoid doing, both online and between the covers of books. My time spent on the internet is 99% reading. That means no internet for me. No Facebook. No WordPress. No email except work-related email. No Google reader. No browsing Amazon and obsessively tracking my outstanding packages. No reading any of the several books I’m reading right now. Oy!
I get why she does it. It’s true, as she says when she says:
“For most blocked creatives, reading is an addiction. We gobble the words of others rather than digest our own thoughts and feelings, rather than cook up something of our own.” — Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way 10th Anniversary Edition, p. 87
That is absolutely true for me. I am a book slut, a bibliophile. I am addicted to others’ words. Not a day goes by that I don’t read out of at least one book and several blogs. Not a single day. As she says earlier in the section on the reading ban, “words are like tiny tranquilizers.” If I start feeling restless, the first thing I do is hop online and read or go find a book in my ever-expanding collection that will adequately tranquilize whatever has me restless. (Usually something I’m avoiding dealing with, and, instead, use others’ words to shove it below the surface of my consciousness.)
What does that mean?
I know myself well enough to know that I won’t last until next Sunday. I would be found in the pantry reading the backs of the cereal boxes or in the shower reading the labels of all the shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and shaving cream containers and such.
Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to try stay off the internet and do no reading other than what is required by my paying job until at least Thursday morning. If the first three days go well and I’m not ready to go insane, then I may try another day, but I know I’ll break my reading fast no later than Friday evening. I’m going to limit my TV watching to one episode of one show per day. Monday will be The Big Bang Theory, and Thursday will be The Vampire Diaries, because I do want to keep up with those two shows.
In lieu of reading, I anticipate I’ll do quite a lot of writing, so I’m going to keep my flash drive, a journal to write in, and my newly-acquired art journal with me at all times. I’m sure there will also be heavy doses of music, so thankfully I have lots of batteries for my personal CD player.
I’m scared and intimidated, but I think this will be good for me. Wish me luck! I won’t be checking in again until at least Thursday!