artist’s way: week four

“Reading deprivation casts us into our inner silence, a space some of us immediately begin to fill with new words—long, gossipy conversations, television bingeing, the radio as a constant chatty companion.”
–Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

Week Four had the regular insightful chapter and weekly tasks, but I think the most difficult and notable portion of the week (as I assume most people who have done the artist’s way would agree) was the challenge of reading deprivation.  Cameron’s primary week four assignment was to not read.  I don’t think anyone realizes how much you read until you aren’t theoretically allowed to.  Granted, we all automatically read to a certain extent (traffic signs, labels, etc.) therefore, I don’t think I can be faulted too much for generally failing in that aspect.

I’m disappointed in myself this week.  At the end of this challenge, I can’t say I passed.  I tried, I did—but I didn’t try as hard as I could have.  It wasn’t that I didn’t take the challenge seriously—I don’t know why exactly I failed or gave up.  I do know I didn’t benefit as much from the assignment as it seems I should or could have. I did essentially stay off my blog and facebook—which was a struggle, since I seem to be completely addicted to both.  I also remained off my email for the most part. On a couple of occasions, I did entirely forget to not read when that reading was routine at work or something.  It wasn’t exactly the not reading where I feel I let myself down.

I don’t think I truly took advantage of the inner silence and free time available from not reading.

Since I’ve been covering the vacation of a fellow employee, I was steadily working more than usual, which has kept me occupied.  The purpose of this exercise appears to be two-fold.  First, not allowing myself to read emphasizes the amount of time I both intentionally and unintentionally spend (or waste on) reading—wandering through facebook, blogs, and various other useful and useless lands in the infinite world of the internet.  I hadn’t realized I have such a tendency to bury myself in reading for distraction, (while waiting in a lobby, on the tube, at the office) instead of being present absorbing the moment.

“Without distractions, we are once again thrust into the sensory world.  With no newspaper to shield us, a train becomes a viewing gallery.”
—Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

The second point of this exercise was to make use of this newly available time.  I didn’t really do that.  I can make excuses that I was working more than usual, or how I wanted to spend extra time with my husband before he left for training—but those are simply excuses.  If I had made the more of an effort to utilize my not-reading-time, I could have.

“The nasty bottom line is this:  sooner or later, if you are not reading, you will run out of work and be forced to play.”
-Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

5 Replies to “artist’s way: week four”

  1. I was really interested to see how you got on with the reading deprivation. I also felt like I didn’t quite get everything I should have out of week 4, but it’s certainly an interesting exercise. Isn’t it amazing how much you read automatically? It made me notice how words just jump into my brain everywhere.
    It did make me stop taking a book everywhere, but that came back to bite me yesterday when I was completely fried from writing group and Artist’s Way exercises and a tough art class, and I spent 45 minutes waiting at the station cursing myself for having no reading material to hide in, and trying not to cry.
    I love the heart post-its!


    1. I suppose Cameron would say that would be a good 45 mins. to find yourself and observe your surroundings? But I agree, 45 mins is a long time to sit with nothing to read or keep your attention. The post-its are sweet. It makes me miss him less.


  2. oooh not reading would be hard…. I love the lamp loves swenson though… :) totally hilarious! and that we found one or two that you might not have found when we were first staying with you…. :)


  3. Hi Julia. It’s funny, I read this post thinking you were British. In my mind, I read it with a terrible British accent. What a challenge, to not read. What about writing? Is that a form of reading? I imagine to distract myself from not reading, I’d do a lot of writing. And drawing/painting. But is THAT also a form of reading? I think when we read we tend to WATCH words now that we are so familiar with them rather than indulge in a truly cognitive and comprehensive activity.


    1. My name isn’t Julia–Julia Cameron is the author of The Artist’s Way book I am working through.:) I did live in England for the past four years, I don’t have a British accent–but maybe that is why you imagined one? I figured writing wasn’t technically reading. I still did it some–but not as much, and I didn’t proof any of my writing (mainly lists and my morning pages). I figured technically reading and writing are different, but they are pretty intertwined. I think making yourself do other things you enjoy (like drawing or painting) was what Cameron hoped would happen. I recommend trying it for a week, it is an interesting experiment.


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