Save your inner artist and start creating your own path

In the previous post, I talked about creativity and how to take it back. I took my creativity back by working on Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way. This book worked for me and a number of people around the world.

But how did I manage to finish it? That’s what I’m going to cover in this post. You might not be interested in doing The Artist’s Way, and that’s fine. You can use the tips given below for any other things that require you to push the envelope further.

Now, let me quickly go over what The Artist’s Way is…

The Artist’s Way is a 12 week course on crushing your creative blocks. Each week you will explore different topics that are related to your creative blocks; by actively reflecting on these topics, you will be able to discover your inner artist, who has been buried under the blocks.

There are two core exercises in this book: The morning pages and the artist’s date.

The morning pages is a daily exercise – you write down whatever comes to your mind for 3 pages as soon as you wake up in the morning. When you write down your thoughts, you don’t edit yourself; let your hand take over the process. You don’t have to worry about your handwriting being messy either, because you are not supposed to read what you’ve written unless you are given an instruction to do so in the book. You simply write down anything that comes to your mind at the time of writing. You might write about your worries or your dreams. Anything.

The other core exercise, the aritist’s date is a weekly date. You get to go on a date with the loveliest person for you in the entire world – you. This exercise is powerful and significant, especially if you are the kind of person who has been too busy for fun and exciting things in life and doesn’t take some time off for yourself. Spend some quality time with yourself and nourish your inner artist (read: do something fun). That’s the idea behind this exercise.

In addition to these core exercises, you’ll be assigned to do other weekly exercises specific to each week’s topic. There are about 10 exercices per chapter. Some are extensive, and some can be done quickly. Doing these exercises is crucial in taking back your creativity, because they help you realize your potential as well as your dreams and help you take small steps so you can crush your creative blocks.

What I learnt through working on The Artist’s Way

If you manage to complete The Artist’s Way, what happens? Here’s what happened to me.

  • I realized that what I labeled as procrastination was a bunch of creative blocks in a guise.
  • I realized that I had been blocked.
  • I’m no longer interested in judging other people’s artworks or other artists unless I’m asked to do so by them. In most cases, it’s unnecessary to judge them and I’d rather work on my own thing than becoming someone who is busy making judgments about others.
  • I’m happy to take small steps as well as big steps.
  • I’m much more willing to take risks and mistakes.
  • I realized I have enough resources and potential to do what I want to do, whatever that may be.
  • I realized that I am creative.

These realizations and attitudes helped me move further than where I used to be. I believe you can do the same.

Considering these benefits I got out of The Artist’s Way and the cost of the book ($10.63 at Amazon at the time of writing this post), I highly recommend you to work on The Artist’s Way.

What’s the catch?

Does it sound too good to be true? The Artist’s Way works – it worked for a number of people and it’s highly likely that it works for you as well.


It works only if you commit yourself to this 12 week course and if you complete it. I often hear that finishing The Artist’s Way is difficult. Why can it be difficult to finish?

  • You need to commit yourself to The Artist’s Way for 3 months. You need to do your morning pages every day. You need to do your weekly exercises. You need to read the book. Making these commitments can be daunting for some people.
  • It challenges you to take a look at your past and to reflect on who you are. In many cases, you will need to change yourself so you can reclaim your creativity. Change is good, but it can be uncomfortable for some people.
  • Some people may not believe that it works.
  • Some people may dislike the kind of language the author uses. While it’s not too woo woo new agey, it does contain some fluffy language, which may put off some people.

But if you’ve decided to give it a go, you want to make sure that you can crush your creative blocks, meet and celebrate your inner artist, right?

I bet you do.

What do you need to do in order to get the most out of The Artist’s Way by actually finishing it?

How to finish The Artist’s Way (Hint: There’s no easy way)

Here’s some advice I want to share with you. It’s from my own experiences.

  • Realize that creativity is important for you (see my previous post). If I tell you that reclaimed creativity will make your life three times better than your current life, will you set some time for tasks you need to complete?
  • Create more time. When it comes to completing the tasks, the major reason for feeling overwhelmed can be the lack of time. For the morning pages, you will need 20-40 minutes, depending on how fast you can capture your stream of consciousness in 3 pages. So, you might need to wake up early to make that time. For other exercises, you might want to have 2-3 hours each week. Also, create some time for reading each chapter as well. To create more time, you can stop watching TV, browsing the internet, or doing things you don’t need to do. To wake up early, go to bed early.
  • If writing 3 pages of the morning pages is overwhelming, try writing 1 page instead. Once you get comfortable with it and made it as your habit, you can start writing more.
  • Don’t be a perfectionist. While it is important to do the assigned exercises, if you miss some exercises, don’t feel guilty or worry about completing them. You can slow down or completely skip them and move on. It’s better to do so than getting stuck because of worrying too much about some tasks.
  • Do it with your friends. I worked on The Artist’s Way with a group of people and it made it easier for me to be accountable about the progress.
  • Be persistent, take it easy and have fun. Don’t be too serious about your journey of reclaiming your creativity. It will take some time to reclaim your creativity and it’s better to enjoy your journey than to crash and to burn out for being too serious about it. This applies if you don’t like how The Artist’s Way is presented as well. Be amused every time you find a fluffy metaphor in the book.

I hope these tips will help you finish The Artist’s Way. Good luck!


If you enjoyed reading this post, please share it with your friends by clicking the like button or the tweet button below or by other means. That’s how you can help me grow this blog. Thank you! You can subscribe to this blog via RSS or e-mail, too. I’m looking forward to connecting with you!

Photo: ewen and donabel

Crush your excuses and take that first step

Is there something you want to, but are afraid to start? You might want to start learning cooking, photography, or dancing. You might want to start making films, writing novels, or running your own YouTube show series. You might want to start your own business. Or you might want to start a revolution, because new year’s resolutions are for chumps? Or perhaps anarchy?

So, you want to start it (whatever it is), but you haven’t started it yet, because… Why? You are afraid of something?

Sometimes taking the first step is the most difficult part. But what stops you from taking that step? I can’t cover every particular excuse that stops you from doing what you want in this brief post, but let me try to nail down some of the fundamental excuses.

I believe these fundamental excuses include the following:

  • I’m not good enough.
  • I’m afraid of making mistakes.
  • I have no idea about where to start.
  • I don’t have enough resources (money, time, equipment, etc).

What can you do about these excuses and take that first step? Let me help you crush them.

Excuse#1: “I’m not good enough.”

You are not good enough? What exactly does that mean? Let’s say you want to learn dancing, but you think you are not good enough at it. Here’s good news. You are a beginner and you are supposed to become better by taking lessons and practicing what you learnt. Being good enough is not a prerequisite for you to get started with it.

So, don’t worry. You’ll get better along the way. But make sure to start as soon as possible, because if you start now, you’ll have more time to practice.

Excuse#2: “I’m afraid of making mistakes.”

This one is similar to Excuse#1 above. You will probably make mistakes as a beginner, but that’s expected. The most important thing is to survive from those mistakes and to learn lessons from them.

The most important question you need to clear away regarding this excuse is: Is there any mistake that will kill you?

If the answer is no, then your mistakes are more likely to make your life richer.

There is no losing in Jiu-Jitsu. You either win or you learn.
– Carlos Gracie Jr.

Excuse#3: “I have no idea about where to start.”

You know what you want to do, but you don’t know where to start. But what exactly does it mean that you don’t know where to start? Are there many first step options and are you overwhelmed by that? Or is it the case that you simply don’t know what to do?

Let’s say you want to start learning how to cook and let me answer these questions from this angle. So, there are many recipes and you don’t know which one you should start with. My suggestion is to choose something simple and stick to what you like within the range of simple things. It might sound too obvious, but I’m sure it will narrow down your options.

How about the case in which you don’t know what to do? You don’t know what to do, because… you don’t have the information you need to get started. Let’s say you don’t have any recipes handy. OK, this solution works for the other question as well, but you can ask your friends or search online. For example, you can search “how to make pancakes” and you’ll find a lot of helpful information on how to make pancakes, including instruction videos. How simple is that.

Excuse#4: “I don’t have enough resources (money, time, equipment, etc).”

You want to start your own business, but you don’t have money to do it. You want to write a novel, but you are too busy with your day job. You want to start taking photos, but you can’t afford to buy a DSLR camera.

  • If you have this worry, I have some questions for you.
  • Is it absolutely necessary for you to have those resources in order to start what you want to do?
  • If it is, why is it absolutely necessary?

If you can’t answer this question, it’s possible that it may not be absolutely necessary after all.

If you can answer it, however, I want you to ask yourself another question:

  • Is it absolutely necessary for your first step to be as big as you think it needs to be?
  • In other words, can you make your first step much smaller so you can actually take it?

Let me give you some examples.

You want to start your own business, but you think you don’t have money to do it? It does depend on what kind of business you want to run, but it’s possible to start a business under $100 and you can read more about it in this post by Chris Guillebeau.

If you want to take a very small step, you can get some “running your own business”  experiences by selling things on eBay, for example. That’s much smaller a step than founding the next Apple Computer, but you do get some experiences.

You want to write a novel, but you are too busy with your day job? But you certainly have 30 minutes a day to spend on writing a novel, don’t you? If you write for 30 minutes every day and you can write 500 words within that time slot on average, it will take you about 100 days to write a 50,000 word novel, which you can edit later.

If you want to take a very small step, you can write a short story instead of a novel. You can even write a three sentence long short story, for example. You can then step up further and further.

You want to start taking photos, but you can’t afford to buy a DSLR camera?
The question is: Do you really need that DSLR camera? Can you get a camera you can afford and start taking photos anyway? If your goal is to learn photography rather than to own a DLSR camera, I believe you can get much closer to achieve your goal by taking photos with a camera you can afford to buy than doing nothing.

The take away message

Don’t worry about how bad you are before you get started. You are a beginner, and you will get better along the way. Making mistakes is OK as long as they don’t kill you. Make sure to learn from them. If you don’t know what to do, ask for help. Make sure to stick to something simple in the beginning rather than trying to do something too complicated. Start small, because it’s possible that you don’t need those resources you though you needed if you make your first step as small as possible.

Great resources I recommend

I recommend these resources below if you need some creative inspirations to start what you want to do.

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
TED Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert


If you enjoyed reading this post, please share it with your friends by clicking the like button or the tweet button below or by other means. That’s how you can help me grow this blog. Thank you! You can subscribe to this blog via RSS or e-mail, too. I’m looking forward to connecting with you!

Photo: AlicePopkorn

Where I discovered a community of awesome individuals in 2010 and what I will make in 2011 – #Reverb10

In this post, I will reflect Prompt #7 of Reverb10 – if you are curious, check out Reverb10’s website here.

Prompt #7: Community

Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

For me, the most powerful community I experienced this year was… Twitter. I joined Twitter few years ago, but I hadn’t used it actively until the end of 2009.

The most significant event that made me want to use Twitter more was to meet up with Gwen Bell (@gwenbell) in person when she visited Tokyo. Yes, that Gwen who co-organizes #Reverb10 (Hi Gwen!).

My Twitter usage became more active since then, and I’m happy to say that Twitter has been a very effective tool to find and to connect with like-minded people.

Let me mention some of the people I got connected with via Twitter this year and introduce their awesomeness to you.

  • Fernando (@HelloNavi) is a photographer extraordinaire, hailing from San Diego, currently based in Japan as an English teacher. He’s a great guy to talk with and I recommend you to take a look at his photos.
  • Rémi (@remino) is a French Canadian, web developing wizard. He has a great voice and I wonder when he will become a voice actor. If you need someone to do an extreme makeover on your website, say hello to him.
  • Sarah (@semisara) is one of the most energetic people I know. She is a journalist&photographer&translator with killer smiles and some kickboxing skills. Check out her website here.
  • Emi (@gyorome) is a fashion photographer&university student and I love the way she is. What fascinates me about her is how she can connect with people and do amazing things. There’s a lot to learn from her style.
  • Alice (@alicetokyo) is “an Italian heroine fighting monsters in Tokyo”. How awesome is that. Seriously, she’s awesome. She lives and studies at university in Tokyo, and writes blog posts for Vogue Japan. Her English website is here.
  • Etsuko (@EtsukoT) is specialized in coaching on international marriage as well as on parenting. We translated Chris Guillebeau’s “A Brief Guide to World Domination” into Japanese together. If you need some coaching on international marriage or parenting, talk to her!


Now, let me talk about the community I want to create in 2011.

If you’ve been a reader of this blog for a while, you probably know that I want to make the world more romantic. In 2011, I will create a community of people who believe in their potentials and possibilities and seek beautiful moments in life. I’ve started writing a mini manifesto on this subject, and am planning to release it in the beginning of 2011. So, stay tuned if you are one of such people.

Your life is your art. My life is my art. Let’s create something amazing together.


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Photo: wwarby

On writing a novel, one word and $1,052 for $97

NaNoWriMo 2010 is over and…

I finished writing a 5,0270 word novel for NaNoWriMo. I was happy, glad and calm when I finished writing the last sentence of my novel. I knew I could do it, and I did it! To write a +5,0000 word novel in a month was an interesting experience, because it taught me some new things. You can read my thoughts on NaNoWriMo in my previous posts.

What I learnt from finishing the novel is the following.

  • I can write more than 5,0000 words in a month.
  • I can write a novel.
  • I can write a novel without any outline.
  • I have stories inside me.
  • Sometimes characters play by themselves without my directions.
  • I wish I had developed my characters more throughly. I had read Bird By Bird byAnne Lamott and knew it was important, but I think I understood what she meant better by writing a novel.
  • I feel like writing about 30,000 words on different topics every month so I can clarify where I stand on these topics.
  • I need to work on my fiction writing skills.
  • Writing is fun.

In short, it was worth it.

One word for 2010 and one word for 2011

Here’s the Reverb10 prompt for 1 December.

Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?

I experienced a lot of changes this year. It all started with working on the Artist’s Way, and it seems to me that creativity was a big theme for me this year. Apart from the Artist’s Way, I took the online Ars Amorata program, and it helped me clarify my vision as well. I wonder what would be a word that encapsulates the year 2010 for me. To be honest, I feel like I spent a lot of time preparing myself for the next stage this year. The word ‘preparation’ might suggest something inactive, but what I did was definitely an active preparation.

If the year 2010 was about preparation, then I think the year 2011 will be about blooming. I would like the word ‘blooming’ to capture the year 2011. In 2011, I will explode as flowers bloom.

How about you? What word encapsulates your 2010? Which word would you like to capture your 2011?

$1,052 for $97

Adam Baker and Karol Gajda are doing something crazy. They are putting together 23 business courses from 23 successful entrepreneurs and selling them for $97 only for 72 hours. If you bought these courses separately, it would cost $1,052. It’s an amazing deal if you are interested in running a small, online business and want to learn from those who are successful in this area.

I bought Chris Guillebeau‘s Unconventional Guide to Working For Yourself more than a year ago, and it gave me some good insights on running the kind of business Chris does. So, I can recommend this guide to you. But if you are going to spend $79 for Chris’s guide, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t pay extra $18 to get other 22 courses with it.

I was keen on quite a few of the 23 courses and it would cost more than $97 if I bought them separately. The ones I am especially interested are the following:

  • Guest Posting Guide by Chris Garrett – $17
  • Location Independent Lifestyle Guide by Lea Woodward – $37
  • Zero to Business by Johnny B. Truant – $297
  • Write for the Web&Beyond Bricks and Mortar by James Chartrand – $54
  • How to Live Anywhere by Karol Gajda – $97
  • Minimalist Business by Everett Bogue – $47
  • Beyond Blogging by Nathan Hangen – $47
  • Networking Awesomely by Colin Wright – $20

I chose to get on board with this super sale and I believe I made a good decision. If you are curious, check out the sale page here. At the time of writing this blog post, it’s only about 24 hours to go till the sale ends. I hope you can manage to get it if you are interested!


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Photo: aussiegall

Brief updates – 24 Nov 2010 Edition

This brief update will be about two web initiatives, NaNoWriMo and Reverb 10, as well as my favorite post on relationships written in my new favorite blog.


I am not fisnished with NaNoWriMo yet. Right now, my novel is around 40,000 words and I believe I can manage to write another 10,000 words by the deadline. I learnt more lessons from NaNoWriMo since the last time I talked about it.

I’ve been using this novel to talk about my ideas and experiences. These ideas and experiences are expressed as dialogues by characters or monologues of the protagonist. I did a similar exercise for Julia Cameron’s Vein of Gold, but somehow I’ve been exploring my internal stories with this NaNoWriMo business more than with the Vein of Gold. I guess the thing is that this novel I’m writing is partly fictional, while a piece I wrote for the Vein of Gold was factual.

It might be the case that great novelists did the same thing for their novels and I was the only person who didn’t know about it. In any case, it’s great that I learnt about this benefit of writing a novel by actually writing one.

It’s easy to write down my ideas in the form of monologue or that of dialogue as a first draft. In fact, I used my novel as a draft for some of the blog posts I wrote during November. I let my characters talk about the core ideas behind these blog posts, and I’m very happy I did that. I might use this technique for future writing as well.

Another thing I learnt is how long I can concentrate on writing for. Provided I use this great application called JDarkRoom and there’s no distraction and I have a vague idea of what to write, I can keep writing at least for 40-50 minutes without taking a break. Indeed, I found that this chunk of time suits me most, unless words are flowing from my creative brain and there’s no reason for me to stop that flow.

I procrastinate a lot, too. But once I get myself going, I can get into writing. So, it seems the best way to beat my procrastinative habit is to start writing anyway. In fact, it amazes me that I came this far without any plot. All I did was just to write without caring too much what I was writing.

I believed I could manage it, and it is great to see that I am actually managing the situation.


After I finished with NaNoWriMo, I plan to keep writing everyday during December as well. I am going to participate in Reverb 10, organized by Gwen Bell.

Reverb 10 is…

“an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. The end of the year is an opportunity to reflect on what’s happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead.”

The participants of Reverb 10 will do both. If you want to spend this December reflecting on your 2010 and getting ready for 2011, Reverb 10 can be a great way to do it. Join the fun!

By the way, I originally got to know about Gwen via Chris Guillebeau. In the early 2009 Chris produced Unconventional Guide to the Social Web and Gwen wrote the main guide in this product. I bought it, liked it, and started following Gwen. When she briefly came to Japan in the autumn of 2009, I met her in person, at a tweet-up organized by Sandra of Japandra (also known as @sandrajapandra). I love the way Gwen is and I totally recommend you to check out her website.

Farnoosh Brock on Why Relationships Matter

I found Farnoosh (@prolificliving) on twitter. I looked at her blog Prolific Living and it became my new favorite blog. In one of the latest posts, Farnoosh writes on Why Relationships Matter. I enjoyed that post, and I recommend you to take some time to read it. The part of the post I particularly liked is the following:

The length of a relationship is not a good measure of its depth or its meaning. Instead, remember the nature of your interaction with the other person, the simple exchange of your mutual understanding, and the lasting impressions you left behind. Let those mark your measures of success when it comes to relationships.

This part resonates with what I believe. If I wrote what I believe without an explanation, it would sound as though it’s in conflict with the above. I believe that great relationships last forever. I don’t mean to say that we keep those whom we have great relationships with physically close to us forever. What I mean is that we keep memories of them and let them live in our hearts; in that metaphorical sense, I believe that great relationships last forever. When it comes to the amount of time we spend together, these relationships may be brief. There might be only an hour of interaction between you and the person you build a relationship with. But, if that interaction is deep and meaningful and if that interaction creates amazing moments for two of you, that relationship is a great one that will last forever.

I will live my life as if those who let me create beautiful memories with them are like gifts to me. They help me create my art, after all.

I will write more on relationships and related issues in this blog as well. Let’s make this world more romantic together.

Photo: Pseudo Victor

No more underestimation please!

In the last 26 years, I quit drawing, writing stories, playing the bass guitar and making music. There are more, I believe. Do I regret that I quit them? In a way, I do. But not so much, because I can always pick them up again. It’s not too late for me. The point I want to make here is that I didn’t believe I was good at any of them.

My friends are talented. In fact, I’m happy to believe, whether it’s a delusion or not, that everyone I know or you know is good at something. Some of them are making it, and I’m proud of them. Some of them are not quite making it, and I’m still proud of them. But, I hope they’ll realize that those who are not quite making it are good at what they love. They just haven’t realized their potential… yet.

What about me? From someone else’s point of view, I might look talented. I might look good at something. But it’s possible that I don’t believe that I am good at it… as I didn’t regarding the things I mentioned in the beginning of this post.

It’s a message to you as well as to myself – you are probably underestimating yourself. If you truly see your potential, you’ll be surprised.

No more underestimation please!

Photo: oedipusphinx ― ― ― ― theJWDban