Faith and the Artists Way

by Barbara Martin

in Creativity

In the twelfth and final week of The Artist’s Way, author Julia Cameron reiterates the importance of using the two “tools” — the weekly recreational inner artist and soul-feeding Artist Date and the daily routine of meditational Morning Pages – as prescribed in the book. She also emphasizes the “inherently mysterious spiritual heart of creativity” and reminds us how “receptivity and profound trust” are critical to the creative artist.

At its root, and as indicated in the subtitle (The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity) this is indeed a book about our deepest beliefs. Although Cameron does not insist that we follow any specific spiritual path or organized religion, she does expect that faith will sustain us through our toughest doubts and most terrifying moments.

By the last chapter of the book, some of us may find this emphasis on faith entirely comforting, while others may find it an exasperating annoyance. Regardless of our most private beliefs, through this book we can reach deeper understanding, awareness, and yes, discover useful practical tools to help us on our individual creative journey.

We may discover strengths as well as weaknesses, we will certainly find some surprises along the way. And with a little thought and applied effort, we will identify and affirm new ways to enhance our creativity and improve our creative flow.

Above all, we will discover that we are not alone in our foibles, fears and failings; and we will be reminded that a little kindness and compassion for our inner artist goes a long ways toward bringing forth the joy of creating.

Since I first became aware of this creativity program as outlined in the book, I have met several people who have worked their way through the book more than once. Each time is, in essence, an exploration, a new journey into self discovery. Each reading excavates insights we missed — or have forgotten — since the previous reading. I think this happens because we grow and change over time, and because creativity is not a linear thing.

For me, creativity is an ever changing process, adapting and interweaving and doubling back on itself over and under and around and through. It is a spiraling path climbing a mountain measure by measure, a flowing river doubling back on itself and revisiting the panoramic views from every angle, allowing us to focus on brilliant sunrises and smoke-laden, wintry sunsets; on the far distant horizon and the ever lapping ocean waves; on the tiniest close-up detail of a darting dragonfly’s wing … and on the starriest spot in the night-time sky.

That’s how I see it today, maybe I will see something different tomorrow! How about you?

MORE of The Artist’s Way Series of Posts

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Shannon Wilkinson April 24, 2009 at 4:19 pm

What a great point about the wonderful new insights that can be gained from following the Artist’s Way program multiple times. I return to the Dates and the Morning Pages time and again, but it never occurred to me to work through the whole program more than once. Think how amazing it would be if you did it serially, and just incorporated the different aspects into your daily life?

Leah April 24, 2009 at 5:52 pm

I agree, working through this book multiple times is highly recommended. It’s a beautiful practice.

Rebecca Leigh | Smart Fresh Writing for Business April 25, 2009 at 4:31 am

Ah the spiraling path! Yes!

I don’t normally like to reference my own posts in other people’s comments but I was pondering this very thing last week and I wrote an article about the tools we need to learn in our entrepreneurial journeys:

“Be patient
Sometimes (often) you’ll feel like you’re back at the same place you were last week, last month or last year. Learning the same lesson over again. Don’t be hard on yourself. Each time around you add to your knowledge. It’s more like a spiral than a circle – you may feel like it’s the same place but you have definitely moved.”

I loved your beautiful description of walking the path again and finding new views :)

Barbara Martin April 25, 2009 at 8:26 am

I am a spiral person, that’s for sure.

Just because we didn’t get it the first time doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try again…. and the view or perspective does shift …. and we find new insight or a new habit…. and since I would never suggest doing all of the tasks/exercises the first time through, there are plenty more chapter tasks to try, too.

Eileen April 27, 2009 at 9:51 pm

Interesting! I did the Artists Way back in 1998, when I was in full-on early-20s angst. Everything was so *dramatic* and painful back then. I thought being an artist meant being tortured constantly. So AW kind of calmed me in a way. Wonder what it would do for me now that I don’t need that so much? 😉

Barbara Martin April 27, 2009 at 9:59 pm

My vague sense is that redoing the Artist’s Way once a decade or so might be about right. Unless of course things change dramatically in your life and you want to sort of touch base sooner. The first time I did it I was a little older (well okay a lot older!) than that, and it was unsettling for me — a jolt out of complacency. But it also gave me a sense of power I had not felt before. It seems to me that people find very different discoveries for themselves each time they work through it in a deliberate way. Too, spot reading a specific chapter now and then when you feel the old habits re-appearing or when you sense a little boost is needed might be useful too.

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