I’m Jillian Anthony, and this is Cruel Summer Book Club, a newsletter about change, heartbreak and healing. Thanks for being here.
I’ve been reading The Artist’s Way for a couple of months now. It’s a famous book by Julia Cameron that teaches you to reclaim your creativity over 12 weeks. The most important habits include morning pages (writing three pages by hand each day when you wake up), artist’s dates (taking yourself out on a solo “date” to play with your inner artist child), and each week’s tasks, where Cameron outlines different exercises to help you get to the core of how you’re holding yourself back from a creative life. I’ve been surprised to find just how much the work is working for me, how my mind naturally drifts to daily play and joy and discovery.
Have I cracked the code on creating with abundance? Have I laid down a writing habit that works for me and cuts through my crippling procrastination? No! But I’m experimenting in what actually works for me, rather than doing the same disciplinary crap I’ve done for two decades that doesn’t work. Over the years—especially in college and my early working years—I’d write an entire piece in panic a few hours before it was due, and I’ve repeatedly abandoned good ideas and opportunities out of fear. I’ve found that affirming myself as “a talented and prolific writer,” then writing without judgment for half-hour blocks over several days, gets me far down the path on creating with ease and writing drafts I’m proud of. I’ve also made my ideas a priority, writing them down in one place as soon as they come to me, and returning to the ones that really spark. These small improvements feel pretty revolutionary.
Yesterday, I had a big opportunity that’s far outside of the realm of anything I’ve done before. (Send good energy ⚡⚡⚡ my way please.) During this conversation, I was asked to describe myself and I said, “Brave.” That’s true of me in many ways; when I want something, I go get it, and I’m not afraid to put myself out there in huge ways or try new, scary things. But I can’t say I’ve been truly brave in my creative life. If I’m so brave, why haven’t I gone for the things I most want in life, the giant, terrifying goals I’ve barely been able to verbalize?
A recent Artist’s Way task asked me to reveal to myself my greatest dreams. Some of them really scare me, especially the ones that seem so far off the horizon or even the path I’m currently on, years away from becoming even a glimmer of reality. But I know I can make them happen, if I can push my self-doubt aside and get out of my own damn way. So today, I’m going to do something that scares me, and reveal these dreams to you.
✨✨✨ I want to be a published author, a woman whose books are found on the shelves of smart, sincere and creative women around the country. I want to appear on television and podcasts and give talks to crowds with open hearts around the world. I want to be a prolific freelance writer, the kind who gets commissioned by quality editors, who is paid to travel for the big interview. I want to spend a lot of time talking to fascinating people about life’s challenges and triumphs; I want to always be learning how to live well. I want literature to be at the forefront of my life and work. I want travel to be the pulse of my life. I want to live alone in my own apartment that’s bathed in light, plants and millennial pink. I want to live in Europe! I want to relearn to play the piano! I want to finally be fluent in Spanish! ✨✨✨
If your reaction to all of this is “Who does she think she is?” that may be your own inner saboteur talking. Perhaps you too have wild dreams you buried in a box under the sea of your longing heart long ago. Cameron writes in The Artist’s Way that scarcity in success and creativity is a myth; there is room for each and every one of us to thrive creatively, a space where our specific art is needed and welcome. I return again and again to Catherine Andrews’ newsletter in which she discusses the flawed concept of settling for scraps in our lives. She writes:
“Life is not a pie. There aren't only a certain amount of slices to go around. We all get to have what we want, what we deserve, what we dream of. Even you. Especially you.”
Yes, you. And me too.
How can you be brave today? How can you begin to rebirth a buried dream? Take one small step to recover your hope today. Right now. Go on! I’m with you.
Further CSBC reading:
All the joy I found in a dark year
I can do hard things
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This is so inspiring!!! :)