Here’s something you need to know if you plan on following this blog for a long time: you are getting a lot of Julia Cameron recommendations. Just…. get used to that idea. I’m lucky because her books take a lot of time to get through because if they hadn’t, I’d probably have enough material to get me through 2015. And yes, I know, there’s a lot of workbooks and spin-offs and things that you probably don’t need in your life. There are about 7 different “Artist’s Ways” available on Amazon right now, and I can’t tell you whether to get the starter pack or the teacher’s cards because I haven’t used them. But I will say this. “The Artist’s Way” (the Original, single book, not the workbook, and not the one “at Work”) is absolutely fabulous and everyone should read it.
Yes, even if you are not a writer.
Self-awareness is something everyone should have, in my humble opinion. Writers may be the lot that is known for (and stereotyped as) having a ridiculously high opinion of themselves (which, if we believe Freud, is a sign of criminally low self-esteem) but being in tune with yourself, owing your fears and insecurities, and acknowledging your strengths is quite a universal skill set. And this is what this book is about.
Forget the morning pages. Forget the artist dates. Those are all props. The point of this book is to get the person reading it comfortable with every aspect of themselves in order for creation to happen.
That said, morning pages and artist dates are awesome. The latter I’ve been really inconsistent with, but the former I have been doing over a year, so much so I have now a favourite type of notebooks to write in, and I sincerely hope Paperchase doesn’t go out of business anytime soon because… I just need that.
(P.S. if anyone wants a stationary favorites post, let me know, because CAPITALISM!)
Back to “The Artist’s Way,” if there is one thing you need to get comfortable with, it’s hearing the word “God” repeated over and over and over again. Cameron uses it as shorthand for “creative energy,” aka that thing the Ancient Greeks thought causes creativity to happen, and it’s a nice tool because it takes some of the pressure off the individuals (i.e. if you don’t feel like writing, you’re not being lazy, the creative energy isn’t with you today.) Personally, I didn’t have too much of a problem with hearing “God” and “Great Creator” all the time reading this, but I realize that for some people that might be a deal-breaker, so – fair warning.
That said, what this book does is, through 12 weeks of exercises and reflections, daily morning pages and weekly artist’s dates, is getting us to confront every possible source of creative block we have, and celebrate all the good things we have in our lives (people who inspire us, hobbies we love, etc. etc. etc.) Getting through topics like fear of failure, fear of not making enough money, and working through any misconceptions we might have about art and artists, this is very much a journey of self-acceptance and getting comfortable with taking risks. Again – this isn’t just for writers. (It isn’t just for painters or sculptors or musicians either.) Being able to say “Actually, this isn’t working for me, for this reason, and I want to change” should be something everyone feels comfortable doing.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the point.