Tuning Out (Artist’s Way Week 10)

Only two more weeks to left in The Artist’s Way. Wild! This week focused on recovering a sense of self-protection; defining the bad habits we have that get in the way of our creativity and admitting why we hold onto those habits when we’d be so much happier if we let them go. I didn’t have to dig very deep to identify my current destructive habit.

Hi, my name is Justine and I’m addicted to Netflix.

You might laugh, but I actually just wrote that sentence, got uncomfortable, and proceeded to open a new tab to continue binge-watching Nashville instead of writing this post. It’s ridiculous. And it’s actually a problem.

It kills me when I think of how much more mastery I could have playing my ukulele or how much of a story I could have written or how much more I could have played with my little girl by now if I didn’t spend hours of my time in front of my laptop, streaming the product of someone else’s creativity.

You’d think I would have learned from my media deprivation exercise in Week 4. But big problems don’t disappear overnight or even over the course of a week. Besides, doing the media deprivation was a task from The Artist’s Way book. I’ve always been an A student and doing homework is something I’ve always done well. I’m programmed to do things that are assigned to me. And I often enjoy that structure of being told what to do. But I struggle to motivate myself. If no outside force tells me I should do something, I’m geared up with all sorts of excuses to talk myself out of breaking unhealthy habits.

There’s a reason why The Artist’s Way is modeled on a 12-step program. Creative blocks are often addictions–things that we cling to so that we can stay stuck, because we know how to be stuck and the unfamiliarity of open creative channels is terrifying.

It feels stupid to be writing this because, to be honest, I still don’t have a whole lot of resolve to change my Netflix-binging ways too much. I am about to go on two weeks of TV-free vacation. Maybe something will click then. But for now, I’m putting it out there. I’m admitting that it’s a problem and one that I will probably be dealing with for some time. I like watching Netflix. It’s calming. It’s easy. It allows me to stay stuck in this strangely seductive pattern, this illusion of not having time to do things that I’d really rather be doing and that would be better for me. I do have time. It might not be ideal amounts or types of time, but I have it. I might tell myself that my daughter takes up all of my free time, but it’s not true. I waste plenty of it–just me and my screens.

But being a full-time mom, it’s so easy to convince myself that I’ve earned the respite that watching TV shows and movies provides. And there’s nothing wrong with television in moderation. It is a fantastic art form in its own right and watching TV can be a great break. But maybe someday, I’ll truly realize that the real respite–what I really deserve–is time to tune into my creativity, instead of tuning out.

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