The Censor

(SeLoFest17 Post: Day 9, click here for all prompts so far)


In yesterday‘s post, I talked about Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s way. Today, I would like to talk about a concept she calls “The Censor”. She introduces this concept in the chapter where she discusses The Morning Pages, which is a process I am planning on starting. But because I have not yet begun that process, and wish to first discuss the Censor, we will just explore what that means, and I would suggest you get the book because it comes highly recommended by so many people and Julia Cameron has helped not only artists but lawyers alike. Creating is a part of who we are no matter what hemisphere of our brain we use more.

But today, I wish to go into what, or who, The Censor is. From the book:

“We are victims of our own internalized perfectionist, a nasty internal and eternal critic,  the Censor, who resides in our (left) brain and keeps up a constant stream of subversive remarks that are often disguided as truth. The Censory says wonderufl things like: ‘You call that writing? What a joke. You can’t even punctuate. If you haven’t done it by now you never will. You can’t even spell. What makes you think you can be creative?’ And on and on”.

And also:

“Make no mistake: the Censor is out to get you. It’s a cunning foe. Every time you get smarter, so does it. So you wrote one good play? The Censor tells you that’s all there is. So you drew your first sketch? The Censor says it’s not Picasso.”

This goes back to the post about positive affirmation, however in this exercise we are facing the demons that limit us. We are calling it The Censor as a way to shorthand the concept of limiting voices and beliefs. It’s important we remember that whichever voice tells us to pull away from joy, is lying to us out of a false sense of protection.

It’s important we acknowledge this voice so we can better learn to hear it, let it rattle on, but understand that it is not the truth, and that we can overcome it. Perhaps one day, with practice, that voice will be smaller.

SeLoFest Challenge

The Prompt: What were to happen if you were to sit down right now and try to do an artistic endeavour that you usually don’t consider yourself “good” at? Like drawing, or singing, or painting?

Activity: Choose something that you would like to recreate as a drawing either with pencil, marker, paint, or other. This can be a place or a thing. Choose something that is something you normally would not do because you aren’t good at, but that is still something that inspires you to draw out. Sit down in front of this item, and draw it out. If you are someone that tends to draw a lot already, choose a more challenging medium. For example, you might choose to draw with pen instead of pencil so as to not have the possibility to erase.

In your journal: Try to draw what you see in front of you just once, on the first try, as you see it. The point of this exercise is not to “like” what you see at the end, but the process of drawing something as you see it, and not as your Censor would like you to do it. It doesn’t matter if what you do in the end is ugly. The point is to do it, and to keep it in your journal so that you can practice looking at it and remembering that the point was to let go of the result, that it was a practice in challenging yourself and knowing you could do it.

As an added, fun bonus, draw out your Censor. Julia describes the Censor as a serpent in her book, you can adopt this imagery or choose one of your own. Perhaps your censor is the voice of a teacher or parent, or perhaps it’s your own voice. You can choose an animal or invent a little creature of your own to represent the Censor. Write out of some of the things the Censor might say. The point of this exercise is to make the censor less scary, and something you can picture so you can silence it, or move past it.

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I used to draw my friends as monsters. Kind of adorable, though, no?

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