About halfway through THE ARTIST’S WAY, Julia Cameron asks you to spend a week not reading. The book was first written in the days before everyone had internet and email. Far more of our leisure time was spent on TV, movies, and music. Setting aside your current paperback for a week would’ve been easy.
But she’s not only talking about reading for pleasure. She asks you to give up as much reading at work as you can manage. No newspaper, too. I can give up email and Slack because they’re not required for my job, but I can’t give up marking students’s writing.
The first time I did the full 12 weeks of ARTIST’S WAY, I wasn’t medicated, so I wasn’t reading books. I was reading the internet, and giving that up was necessary, but difficult. Still, I think about the challenge often. I’m reading more books now, and faster, than I have in decades, but I worry that it’s only become another form of self-medication. I worry I’m hiding in books to feel less alone.
I am very good at filling my free time. There’s always something on TV; there’s always another book to read.
But what if there wasn’t? What if I had nothing to read? Nothing to watch? Would I be able then to choose to use my free time to create?