Are you able to spend a whole week without reading anything?
As I already mentioned in one of previous posts, in January I picked up Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way and started doing weekly exercises from the book that are designed to help recover from creative blocks. Since I didn't really have a creative block first few weeks I just had fun reading the book and casually going through exercises but when I got to week four (Week Four: Recovering a Sense of Integrity) I was faced with a real challenge. One of the exercises done during that week is called reading deprivation and requires you not to read anything for an entire week. Let me quote the book:
If you feel stuck in your life or in your art, few jump starts are more effective than a week of reading deprivation.
No reading? That's right: no reading. For most artists, words are like tiny tranquilizers. we have a daily quota of media chat that we swallow up. Like greasy food, it clogs our system. Too much of it and we feel, yes, fried.
As I was reading those words I had a bit of an epiphany: Yes! That is so true! How did I never make that connection before? It makes perfect sense, if we fill our mind space with a lot of information and other people's idea how can we expect our own ideas to emerge? So I set out on a challenge of not reading anything for a week which turned out to be a lot harder than I could imagine since at the time I was reading a book a day, reading various essays, news articles as well as watching vlogs and listening to audio books and podcasts (how could I possibly consume so much information?!). Anyway, a week went by and I didn't read anything (only my e-mails, but hey this is 2017. and Julia Cameron wrote her book in early 1990's, I believe, so not reading absolutely anything in this day and age would be impossible) and my mind felt refreshed and rejuvenated and I came up with bunch on new ideas and also started to write. Reading deprivation works! Since then I tried to limit the amount of reading I do, reading a book every two weeks instead of obsessively reading every single day to basically drown my mind in information and sedate myself, I aimed to find some healthy balance.
In January 2014 I started an art project (Ink Flower Garden) with a goal of making 1000 abstract paintings and in May this year, almost 3.5 years later with almost 700 paintings finished an exciting idea emerged in my mind: Hey, I have all these paintings done in the same style, I could totally use them as materials to make an experimental animation! The more I thought about the idea the more it made sense to me, I have a very clear vision of how my future experimental video should look like, I have technical skills required to make it and it would be amazing way to slowly end this mega art project of mine. I got really excited thinking: Yes, I can do it, I can make it happen RIGHT NOW, nothing is stopping me from creating this video, it's going to be awesome!
But, obviously there was something stopping me from working on it since it's been a month and I still haven't done anything about it. Well, I did do stuff: I started over-consuming information again, I begun to feel anxious and occasionally slightly depressed. Instead of doing something creative with my free time I did things like: attempted to go on a relaxing walk in nature but ended up sitting in a park behind a factory for a hour, starring at the distance while listening to buzzing of factory drives; tried to watch a documentary about Van Gogh but ended up not only crying but sobbing for an hour straight (his life story was pretty sad though); intended to just find this little information but wasted whole afternoon online reading vintage textbook about domestic production of ink in 16th century England (no, I don't really need to know that). In other words, I procrastinated a lot and felt horrible about it.
So, in order to stop procrastinating and go through whatever is bothering me right now I decided to go on an information deprivation challenge (like Julia Cameron's reading deprivation exercise but I'll do my best not to watch or listen to too much stuff either). I decided not to buy any new books, I unsubscribed from bunch of youtube channels I've been following etc. I want to make space for my own creative ideas and energy to emerge rather than constantly fill my space with ideas of other people.
I'll still read my e-mails and stay active on social media, of course, and I'll still be open for communication. I'll still listen to music and watch a movie here and there but I guess I need an information detox so I can give my mind a little break and focus my energy on creative projects. I'll try doing this information deprivation challenge as long as I can and see what happens, hopefully something amazing and who knows maybe I even end up making beautiful experimental video soon :)