Writers are artists. Some paint word pictures. Others compose word music.
The writer-painters imagine scenes flowing one to another, producing video in readers’ minds like the voracious sea gnawing at the HMS Surprise in the movie, Master and Commander.
The writer-musicians entice readers to hear sonorous voices articulating Shakespere’s Henry V Band-of-Brothers speech at Agincourt, or Tolkien’s Aragorn This-Day-We-Fight rally cry before the Black Gate, or Psalm 23 from the King James Bible.
We writers live to create something that didn’t exist before. Sure the components—ideas, feelings, words—already exist, but we yearn to produce a new, fresh, never seen ‘till now assemblage.
Sounds idyllic except for one thing. A writer’s work places him or her squarely in the middle of the right-brain/left-brain crossfire. Gotta create something compelling, but gotta meet deadline. Thirst to let originality juices flow, but must account for mileage, marketing, utilities, marketing, supplies, marketing, editing, marketing, taxes … And did I mention marketing? Seems like the left-brain stuff expands to fill all available space and time, and then just a bit more.
My daughter, the actress (also an artist), called. “Are you interested in setting up some artist accountability?”
“ With me?” I asked, surprised and flattered.
“Yeah,” she affirmed.
“How did you know I’m stuck in a business set-up labyrinth? I asked.”
“What do you think?”
So I thought. Thought of to-do lists, responsible to-do lists. Lists I generate in my Evernote “Do” notebook and schedule in its “Reminders” view. Lists of important, gotta get done things, that never, no matter my diligence, ever empty, but only grow. And as I thought, I considered my ways—trying to stuff writing into crevices between the shoulds and oughts. Then, sudden clarity.
“Sure, let’s do it!”
“Deal!” she said.
Agreed and committed. Now for action. Creativity demands work, after all. Just a different kind of work, harder, but—for the artist— building rather than draining.
Step 1: We scheduled a weekly FaceTime contact.
Step 2: I pulled out my copy of The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. She prescribes nurturing your artist side by free-writing daily “Morning Pages”, treating yourself to a weekly Artist’s Date, and completing some exercises over a 12-week period. Julia first published it in 1992, but this book demonstrates good ideas last.
Step 3: Found my Morning Pages notebook from 15(!) years ago on the first try (yeah, I keep ‘em all). I immediately started writing.
Step 4: Wrote and signed a contract with myself.
Step 5: Do it. Three days in, I’m still faithful. First accountability meeting comes up this afternoon. First Artist’s Date happens tomorrow. Start the first activity this weekend.
Left-brain stuff has a proper place, but left un-corralled butts in where it doesn’t belong.
Right-brain life, on the other hand, enters a creative, timeless zone. As a writer, I’m believing solid addiction will take hold banishing all possibility of remission.
What about you?