A review and reflection on The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.
I hold a very special place in my heart for The Artist’s Way – a book, a process, a journey that literally changed my life when I went through it the first time. By doing The Artist’s Way I was able to take my life on a whole different trajectory. One that saw me saying goodbye to a life of corporate tedium and hello to one that’s filled with learning, creativity and adventure. I am far from perfect and this Dear Earth People journey still has me in tears, fears and drama sometimes, but for the most part, my intention that I set when I started this Way 3 years ago (!) – that of Ease and Healing – has definitely come to pass.
An ode to creativity
The book begins with the premise that creativity cannot be taught, but merely ALLOWED to unfold. Yes allowed, it’s not really something we can “learn” in the traditional sense – if anything it’s allowing the “unlearning” of what we thought – or in most cases have been taught – a creative life entails. The term creative life is in fact a repetitive statement – life is of itself creative.
Look around you at nature – or at your very own body – have you ever wondered how your blood flows, tummy digests and ass poops without you having to effort it to do so. It’s the same force that causes a flower to bloom, a butterfly to fly or a bird to sing. Which suggests that creativity is the natural flow of life and our skepticism and resistance to this are unnatural.
You see our conditioning, programming – basically our “learning” of how life works – that allowing of natural flow sounds toooo easy – we are so used to stress, opposition and struggle as the natural order. When I wrote down “ease” as one of my intentions I “naturally” scoffed at the naïvety, self-indulgence and ridiculousness of that desire. It reminds me of the scene from the Matrix where the agent tells Morpheus how the original matrix program – where every human being would be happy – was a disaster because people would not accept the world without suffering and kept overriding the system. That’s not to say that there is not resistance or struggle, but a sense of ease I’ve come to realise, has meant that I no longer see this as the norm, but rather the exception or unnatural order. I have learnt to allow the joy and ease in instead of greeting it with foreboding.
Writing creatively becomes a transcribing of what you hear, and not an act of creative will or intellect – which makes it far more easy and fun, trust me. As someone who suffers from bad bouts of Resistance, approaching writing in this way has helped me a lot.
The best part of the process is that it works without you having to believe in it, in a higher power, spirituality or in anything really – just show up and do the work – I can personally vouch for that. Yes there are days when it can feel like “work” – there are days when I REALLY DON’T feel like doing the morning pages for example – and it can never to done “perfectly” – just do your best to do it consistently, that’s all.
As Julia Cameron describes it, this is a 2-part process of sending and receiving:
“Doing your morning pages are sending – notifying yourself and the universe of your dreams, dissatisfactions and hopes. Doing your artist date, you are receiving – opening yourself to insight, inspiration and guidance.”
The Morning pages
It’s basically writing. In the morning. Like the name suggests. At least three pages worth. There’s nothing complicated about it – its ingenius because its simple, no pretenses. And it works. Think of it as crucial to your daily wellbeing as brushing your teeth every morning – except you are brushing your mind. Brushing it out for ideas, thoughts, grievances, mumblings, utterances – it doesn’t matter really – that’s the point. Even if all you write is “I can’t think of anything to write” for three pages just do it. I’ve found that it clears out my mind so I can start the day off fresher – its meditation really that you write out. And for people who find sitting still in the lotus position every morning difficult, then this is just as helpful.
The Artist’s date
You are taking yourself (yes you being the artist) out on a date. Once a week. By yourself. For at least two hours. It does not have to cost money. As long as it brings you joy. And you may find that you can stand yourself for a whole afternoon even.
To Your creativity
The first time I did The AW was with a lovely group of people – just search for an AW group in your local area. In fact I’m going to send them this article – I’m sure they will get a kick out of seeing just how far I’ve come in the past 3 years. It will also be interesting to see how doing it by myself this time pans out. The process takes 12 weeks so I will document the things that I “hear” over this time.
Even if you never read the book, the morning pages and artist’s date are enough to change your experience of life for the better. Try it and see.
However if you do decide to go on The Artist’s Way either by yourself or in a group setting you can check out the book here –The Artist’s Way
Here’s to your creativity.
*featured header image courtesy of Pixabay