Filling the well

I’ve never managed to get through The Artist’s Way.

I’ll admit I’m not too bothered. Whilst I appreciate that this cult classic in creative self-help has helped many thousands of people to unlock their artistic potential, the truth is it’s never done much for me. Why? D’ya know, I just can’t get with the exercises. And I struggle with the language too. Anyway, I’ll write more about this some other time.

Meanwhile, author Julia Cameron includes plenty of things that have really resonated for me as a creative person who, like everyone I know, gets blocked from time to time. For me, the number one amazing brilliant tip that Cameron expounds repeatedly throughout the book is this:

Fill your well.

The principle is simple. As an artist, you ‘fish’ your well each time you create. Stocks of fish (representing inspiration and creative resources) become depleted. Your well should be replenished regularly, so as to keep up a healthy supply of creative inspiration for you.

How do you fill your well?

Appreciate art. Go to an exhibition. Catch a film. Walk in the woods. Climb a hill. Talk with a friend. Stare at the sky. Go see a play. Take a class. Read a book. Find a new band to listen to. Go to an open mic night….

You get the picture! Whatever floats your boat! Make sure there’s plenty of art going in, to ensure plenty of art comes out.

I know I’ve been feeling that creative block recently. Hell, I’ve been feeling it for about 18 months …hmm, ever since I quit my job, started two businesses and bought a somewhat derelict narrowboat. Huh! I got so busy with the practicalities of life (which, for me, involve a heck of a lot of creative output) that my social life took a nose-dive and I forgot to keep replenishing my well.

A few weeks ago, I realised it had pretty much run dry. So what did I do?

  • I read some amazing new books – How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti, Inferno: a poet’s novel by Eileen Myles, and The Beautiful: collected poems, by Michelle Tea. All of them were awesome.
  • After doing short, sharp tarot reading which told me exactly what I already knew, I moved my boat so I could gaze at the water through every window.
  • I did some gardening.
  • I went to a party (go me.)
  • I booked a holiday. Camping on the Costa Brava. Did you know it’s Spain’s queer beachy capital?
  • I made a website all about me. Not sure if this really counts as filling the well but hey!

And tonight? I’m going to the circus. Whoop!

Gradually, over the past few weeks, I’ve felt my mojo flowing back. The sunshine helps. So does generally lightening up. But most of all, it’s because I’m investing in myself again – something that is so easy to forget.

What about you? How do you fill your well?

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  1. Ellen says:

    I know how important is to “fill my well” Besides going out and seek creative nourishment , I also love to take time outs, doing nothing, no reading, no internet just lay on my bed and wander off in my mind; letting idea’s come up and float away again like balloons. and sometimes I catch one 🙂

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