Over the past few months I have written a number of posts related to The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron. This creativity manual or “Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self” is effective for an individual using it alone, reading it by yourself and reflecting on each chapter. The book is also frequently used as the basis for working in a creativity support group, either with a facilitator or as a gathering of peers. I suspect most people who actively follow through with the full twelve week program do so as part of a group effort.
Gentle, Compassionate, Supportive Guidance
This book is powerful. Whether you are new to self-discovery or an old hand, you will be gently guided and encouraged by Cameron’s perceptive observations and thoughtful questions. The chapter by chapter tasks are for the most part straightforward, but as you perform these tasks you will be surprised at how much you learn about yourself.
Doing The Artist’s Way Alone
You will recognize aspects of yourself in each chapter — including those patterns and beliefs that consistently give you the most difficulty in your creative life, as well as those that sustain you. You will find the exercises or tasks informative and helpful — especially if you tackle at least a few that really do not appeal to you. Notably, it is well worth reading the book again if you have read it before – new insights will strike you each time through.
Group Awareness Yields Valuable Insight
When you work through this book in sequence as part of a group, whether an informal get together or a formally designated class, it is fascinating to hear creative people tell their stories, revealing themselves bit by bit as prompted in the book. When we listen to these honest dreams, memories and biographic details, both our own and those shared by others, we notice and explore the repercussions and consequences resulting from the ways we hold these events in our minds and in our perceptions. Often, we discover we are not as alone on our creative journey as we might have thought.
Group Synergy, Support and Joy
In a group setting, we may draw a disproportionate sense of strength and support while working alongside other creative types in an atmosphere of caring and compassion and yes, celebration. This sense of mutual understanding is invaluable and typically results in a powerful synergy – as well as terrific camaraderie. So I would encourage you, as does Julia Cameron herself, to gather some creative people together and commit to working through the book together.
Your Progress: Chapter by Chapter
Whether you read the book in fits and starts or work through it chapter by chapter, week by week; whether you take some or most or all of its points and rejoinders and directives and musings with great enthusiasm or a grain or more of salt, it will undoubtedly influence your artistic life, your creativity, your outlook and your day to day habits and practices over time.
The Tools: Routine Morning Pages and Scheduled Artist’s Dates
For some, the specific cornerstone Artist’s Way tools, the hand written morning pages and once a week artist dates, become lifelong habits. But for many of us they are temporary addendums to our day to day life, lasting only as long as we are actively engaged in working the book or attending meetings of an artists way group. When practiced faithfully, they prove very helpful. (So why do so many of us not continue on with them? If you have thoughts on this I would love to hear from you.)
Your Personal Creative Path is Uniquely Special
It is fascinating to me how each of us will grasp hard and pull, or pick, tug, yank, twist, twiddle with or pick at different strings and threads throughout the book. Each of us will find specific meaning in certain phrases or images or sidebar quotes, draw encouragement and build conviction from one or another of the wide variety of themes covered in the book. There is in essence something for everyone — and often more than a just little bit — to help nudge, spur, jump start, or even gently shove you along on your creative journey.
Faith and Twelve Steps: Yes and No
I suppose it is significant that the book winds its way slowly, in what can be described as a spiraling path, touching upon certain themes again and again from one angle or another until we begin to understand that Cameron’s overall message is one of trusting in faith to see the creative person through all the complicated aspects of creating regularly and with relative ease.
While this final message of faith may not fit perfectly with everyone’s view of creativity, the concepts and tools addressed along the way are undoubtedly helpful regardless of your faith (or lack of it) and whether or not you find it reminiscent of an other certain twelve step program.
Simply appreciate what is useful for you and skip over the rest!
Read The Artist’s Way, Encourage Your Inner Artist
So with all that in mind, I encourage you to investigate the themes in this book for yourself. I am certain you will glean some helpful nuggets of long lasting value and you may even find yourself transformed by it – creative people from every artistic or creative discipline imaginable have developed better creative habits and have drawn strength and comfort and inspiration from this book and program.
You owe it to your inner artist to at least look into this course in discovering and recovering your creative self, “The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity” by Julia Cameron.
Next up: a reference list of my Artist’s Way related posts, following roughly the chapter order from the book. Don’t miss the next Reptitude update — get it by email (sign up at right side bar) or by RSS at tip top right of this page.