Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Artist's Way


You haven’t heard much from me for a while. I’ve been insanely busy - emphasis on “insane” - with all the preparation and marketing involved with the Huntress series, relaunching Huntress Moon and Blood Moon and launching Cold Moon with Thomas & Mercer in a rollout over just five months.

But that’s not all there’s been to it. The last part of last year was really hard, in a professional sense.

The delays in the release of Cold Moon made me anxious and depressed. At the same time that I was grappling with that, I committed myself to a complete overhaul of Screenwriting Tricks for Authors before taking it to print - and ended up doubling the material in the book. I’m thrilled with the result and I know you all will be, too, but it took time away from my fiction writing and stretched me more thin than is really healthy for me, or anyone for that matter.

Also, I’m writing Book 4 in the Huntress series and I seem to be writing three different books at once, which, while it is probably exactly the process I need to be going through, is also hugely confusing.

And oh yeah – I started Book 1 of a new series set in Scotland and in LA.

All of this while I have been adapting to life in a new country. That marginally speaks English, but not always. Especially after a few pints.

Are we starting to get what’s wrong with this picture?

It was time to stop the madness and reassess.

The good news is, I didn’t have a complete nervous breakdown.

The better news is, I knew how to heal myself.


Some of you may be familiar with Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Waya classic on creativity, spirituality, and recovery. It’s a twelve-week program sort of based on twelve-step programs, but for artists and creativity.

The Artist’s Way is a huge commitment. You do Morning Pages every day (three mandatory pages of free form writing) and an Artist Date every week, plus numerous assignments on top of that. This is what I decided to do on top of everything else I was doing. Crazy, right?



But I knew I had to do something.

Workaholism is a big problem for me. Let's be blunt - I get a lot of rewards from it. Certainly it pays off in a career sense – it’s kind of the job description for a screenwriter and pretty much for an author, too, if you want to make a living at it. There’s another big payoff, too. When I’m insanely busy I don’t have to think about myself much. Or at all.

But you know…. that’s maybe not so great.

The Artist’s Way is designed by someone who has had all those issues and knows the score, including all your sneaky little tricks.

The first time I did the program, I didn’t make it all the way through the twelve weeks. I rarely did the Artist Date. I openly scoffed at and ignored most of the suggestions for fun stuff. And I certainly didn’t do some of the scary deeper work – like the week of reading deprivation. (Yes, that means an entire week of no reading. I know some of you out there just stopped breathing at the very thought).

But even not doing it full out, the breakthroughs that happened for me at the time I was working the program and in the year or two after I did it were extraordinary. I finished Huntress Moon, decided to e publish it instead of going for another traditional publishing deal, and did it to big success. I got back all of my backlist of traditionally published books and launched those books as e books. I wrote my YA thriller The Space Between, and wrote a romance version of Screenwriting Tricks for Authors. I started teaching a college film class, which I loved. And, oh yeah - I met this guy Craig Robertson…

This time through, the breakthroughs are already coming fast and furious. Sometimes I’m taking two weeks to do the work suggested for a week. Sometimes I’m skipping stuff. I put off the reading deprivation while I was doing copyedits, but I did it last week, a full week, and WOW. (I’ll write about that in a separate blog.).

I already feel so much more aligned and focused. I can’t wait to get started with my day in the morning. In the midst of some pretty dangerous burnout, I am healing.

It is an immense relief.

So a huge thank you to Julia Cameron, for saving my skin - and soul - again.

And for you all, some questions. Did you know about The Artist’s Way? (It’s not just for artists and writers. It’s for everyone. We’re all creative beings at our core.) Have you ever worked the program?

Or is there some other way you’ve found to take stock and heal yourself in times of burnout? I’d love to hear!

      - Alex


Some great giveaways are ending soon:

            1, First, this month, to celebrate the rollout of the Huntress/FBI series, Thomas & Mercer is giving away 50 audiobooks, a set of all three Huntress books signed by me, and a Kindle Voyage!  You can enter on my Contests page.  

            2. Homicides of March:  You can enter here for a chance to win 41 paperback thrillers, including Huntress Moon. Yes, 41!!!   

            3. And finally, if you’re not already on my mailing list, you can get a free e book by joining here.  

     






6 comments:

J Wilk said...

Wow, Alex, glad to hear you're on the mental "mend". Have not heard of this book, but definitely want to read it. I think as writers we all get to a point where we push ourselves a little too far writing, publishing, marketing, keeping up on social media. Knowing that there's a 12-step program for us is great. Thanks for sharing. And take care...

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

It's interesting who has and hasn't heard of it. It's a staple in California, but maybe not as much elsewhere? Of course, Cameron was a screenwriter so LA's her home turf.

Misty said...

I've definitely heard of Artist's Way, but I've never actually gone through it! Maybe I need to rethink that... :)

Don't know what I would do about the week-long reading deprivation, though. My "day" job is basically six hours of reading, so I'd have to be able to take a week-long vacation from everything I spend my days doing.

Sounds like torture, though. XD

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Misty, I NEVER thought I could do a reading deprivation. I didn't stop reading business e mails or anything. It's not that I could take a week off right now. But - I didn't do any spacing out to fiction at night. I didn't even do research reading. And it was incredible what a difference it made. I really do have to write a whole post on it.

Susan Lute said...

Thanks for this post, Alex. I have Artist's Way, but packed away while we're remodeling the house, which has been going on far too long, lol. Think years. I'll say ra-ra. There are many writers/artists who will relate to your story and be inspired, me included.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Thanks, Susan! I also have a copy of The Artist's Way packed somewhere in storage. I downloaded another! A great thing about ebooks is that you can't really lose them. :)

Three years of remodeling! You need a massage.