The Artist’s Way: Week 1
This is an ongoing series about my experiences with Julia Cameron’s program, The Artist’s Way: A spiritual path to higher creativity. It’s a 12 week program designed to help reboot your creative process and after hearing about it from several friends over the past few years, I gathered a group of like minded creatives and we are embarking on this journey together! You can find the other related entries here.
A few friends and I have started an online Facebook group dedicated to the classic book by Julia Cameron, “The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.” The book covers a 12 week program that aims to help discover and recover your creative self. It’s one of those books that so many people have mentioned to me that I finally threw up my hands and said, ok! I’ll do it! The premise is quite simple: each chapter corresponds to a particular week, and includes a series of questions to answer that relates to the overarching theme of that chapter. In addition, there are two activities that are ongoing throughout the entire program: morning pages and artist dates.
Morning pages are a journaling exercise of sorts, where you write in free-form 750 words every morning before you begin your day. “There is no wrong way to do morning pages,” writes Cameron. “They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind- and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not ever-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.”
What I like about the morning pages are that they are pressure-free, a nice, soothing change of pace from deadline oriented writing. I’ve been doing them all week and I really find that I am clear headed and less stressed out about my other creative outlets when I do them. I can get mine done in about 15-20 minutes.
Artist dates are once-weekly appointments that you make with your self, and dedicate at least two hours to doing something fun, something that sparks your whimsey, delights your inner artist. The people in my group have done everything from cooking a new recipe, taking a music lesson, visiting an old bookstore and a variety of artistic pursuits. For my Artist Date last week I went to the Harry Potter studios in London – and it’s been a while since something has so captured my wonder (but that’s a whole other post).
Week 1: Recovering a Sense of Safety.
The theme of the first week was creating an environment where you felt safe to express yourself creatively. I was astounded to hear that even within my group, many of whom are creatives in a professional capacity, still had some struggles in identify themselves as artists, or allowing themselves to pursue other creative ventures. For myself, this was obvious as I was writing the manuscript of my novel, an ongoing pursuit that simultaneously thrills and terrifies me.
“But you’ve written two books,” Jesse says to me. “You are a writer, and you can clearly do this too.”
“Not a novel.” I reply, uttering the word in a hushed whisper, lest the creative Gods overhear my audacity and strike me down. So, I’m clearly not the only one who struggles with this, lol.
The exercises and questions were thought provoking and difficult. Some questions were fun, like imagining five other lives you’d live, and others were much challenging like identifying people who either cheered or hindered your creativity. For me, the biggest issue that arose was my belief that I would be unable to create a life that was financially sustainable while creating the type of content my heart yearns to make. That belief had pushed me to put off my creative writing for years, in pursuit of corporate glory though that ache to put words down on paper and bring characters to life never really went away.
The interesting thing about Cameron’s book, is her link to creativity and what she calls “God,” which was a little off putting at first but I warmed up to it when she said we could replace the word with flow, universe, or whatever. I love the idea that our creativity is a spiritual gift and it acts as a compass in helping us discover our higher purpose – to do the thing that we’ve always dreamed of doing. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, I can’t remember what it was like to have a book in my hands. And despite being an author, my morning pages revealed to me that there are stories that I still need to tell and that this was my chance to start working on them. Thanks to listening to those instincts I started work on my novel again, and can say for the first time, that I’ve never been closer to finishing a first draft. I am literally working on the last chapter.
Next week is about Recovering a Sense of Identity and I’m really looking forward to seeing how this program impacts not just my own journey, but our journey as a collective group that have banded together to help release our inner creativity.