The book The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, has been a game changer for me on multiple levels. It’s so hard to explain until you read it….but I’m going to do my best to express a small portion of what this book has done for my life. The point of this book is to expand your creativity, and unblock whatever might be stopping you from living your most creative life. The phraseology of the book really resonated with me, and there’s key concepts and practices that I hope to keep forever because of reading this. Although I could probably write a book about how much I love this book...to keep it simpler, I want to talk about 3 components of my experience gained through the 12-week program of The Artist’s Way, that have become very meaningful in my own creative life, namely: Morning Pages, Artist Dates and My Artist Tribe.
The task of morning pages (assigned by Julia Cameron in the book) is to write 3 whole pages of stream of consciousness writing first thing in the morning. The premise is no judgement about what you are writing, and no rereading (until after several weeks of writing). This practice was so hard for me to become consistent at, but I saw the value pretty dang quickly, and this is something I work really hard to continue (even after the 12 weeks). Why you ask? Because for some reason they work, and just make my life better. Sometimes my pages have been filled with complaints or emotions or bad dreams. But what also showed up on my pages were meaningful ideas and actions for me to take to make important things happen in my life. My pages forced me to take time everyday to write out my thoughts, to be more aware of what was even going on inside my head, and more clearly recognize my own inner compass. I found that I could leave my frustration and work things out in my pages. I found that I could learn what lies I tell myself when writing them down and arguing with them. I found that inspiration started to come to me as to what do next in my creative passions, because of taking the time, three pages at a time.
The second task assigned via the Artist Way is a the weekly task of the “Artist Date,” which basically means doing something by yourself (for at least an hour) that makes your inner artist happy, and can sort of rejuvenate your artistic spirit (much like date night with your significant other can rejuvenate your relationship). If I thought Morning Pages were hard, they had nothing on how hard it was for me to do my weekly Artist’s Dates. This one is still harder for me to continue outside of the program, but when I do, I remember how necessary it really is. Everyone is different in terms of what experiences fill their soul. My inner artist loves standing in front of the ocean, exploring quirky antique shops, and letting myself go crazy at the dollar store. Probably my most “artsy” artist date was visiting an art gallery in Palm Springs (Which was amazing!). I would always come back from my artist dates refreshed and filled with new images to draw creative energy from, and just be more excited about life! Having such a hard time doing them, was also very enlightening for me! I’ve had to ask myself: why is it so hard to give myself one hour a week to do something fun just for myself? Do I not value myself enough to give myself one hour of alone time to enjoy something? I recognize that when I take the time to take myself out on an artist date, I am telling myself that I am worth dedicating time to, and I think that concept of worth translates into my artistic work, and life. When I follow through with these artist dates as a practice, I am saying that I am worth taking time to see beautiful things and experience small soul-filling adventures.
My Artist Tribe
The third aspect from the 12 weeks of the Artist's Way, that made a huge impact for me, was going through this process with a group of other artists via a “Creative Cluster.” With a group of about 10 other women, we started the 12 weeks at the same time, and met once a week to discuss our progress and the different things we were learning. The first time I went through this, we met Sunday evenings. Sunday evenings very quickly became my favorite. It was really interesting, because we were all aquatinted with the person who started the group, but other than that, none of us really knew each other. We were all different kinds of artists: painters, comedians, writers, musicians, decorators, and we were all at different phases of life ranging from college, to young motherhood to grandparent life. And every week we met and we shared. We talked about what was hard for us. We talked about creative victories. We talked about beautiful things we had seen that week, as well as painful discoveries that were difficult, but significant. Every meeting we laughed. Sometimes we cried. What ultimately happened is that we became undeniably connected. I found a group, that I opened up my heart to, that I let really see me, and I saw them. We got to root for one another, and we got to watch each other grow and see the incredible changes that were happening within each of us. It became the most beautiful support group, I never knew I needed. I loved so many aspects of this group's weekly meetings. The check-in aspect forced me to be more reflective and thoughtful with my week. Hearing these women's stories with all their ups and downs, magic and vulnerability, inspired me. But what it all adds up to, is what truly means the most to me: an artistic bond of sisterhood, that I plan to keep forever.
My love affair with The Artist's Way, is a love that is real. I love these practices of morning pages, artists dates, and taking time to reflect and connect with other people on various creative journeys. I love the new friends I have made. I love all that I have learned. And I love that I now have more tools to continue forward toward a more abundant creative life.