The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron has woven its way into my day to day life and is helping me Find the Good Everyday.
What is The Artist’s Way?
At the start of 2017 I worked my way through The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It’s a book written as a 12 week course to help you creatively.
The tagline on the book reads “a course in discovering and recovering your creative self”.
The book is aimed at artists of every genre. A lot of the tasks involve writing so it’s ideally placed for someone wanting to stretch their writing muscles. But the ideas and tasks are designed for anyone who wants to develop creatively.
I chose to use the book to help me develop as a writer. One of the main teachings of the book – Morning Pages – had been a daily habit for me for around 15 months before I read and worked my way through the rest of the book. My success with Morning Pages helped me decide to commit to working my way through the whole course/book.
How I completed the work
Starting early January and finishing in April, I worked on the book over about 14 weeks. I completed all the tasks that were set each week. Some were fun, some easy and some challenging. Some held me back (hence why it took me longer than the 12 weeks) and I had to make myself sit down and work through them.
Before I started the book I scheduled time in my calendar every Monday for a couple of hours to start work on that week.
Each week I would start off by reading the week’s chapter and create a checklist of actions in my notepad. The checklist of actions always started with “Read the chapter” so I had a nice, easy win early on! I’d detail on the checklist any exercises within the chapter and then add the tasks (by number and a brief title) from the end of the chapter. Once the chapter was read and checklist written I’d work my way through it all. Some weeks I flew through the activities. Other weeks I had to keep returning to them. For tasks where I was required to do a daily activity I’d set it as a calendar item or reminder on my phone to ensure I remembered.
What I learnt
I took some key learnings from the book and I think they will continue to serve me well over my lifetime. There are several things I now do regularly as a result of the book. These are:
- Morning pages, daily (I was doing them before reading the book but have now improved my technique)
- Artists Dates, weekly (sometimes not that often but I try!)
- Self nurturing activities, daily
- Artists Walks, a few times a week
I loved Cameron’s links between creativity and spirituality. There’s an essay called “Attention” that explains that sometimes it requires something bad to happen in order for us to be able to pay close attention to the world around us. This really resonated with me.
Having read reviews of the book I think the spirituality link and all the references to God (Cameron defines this as Good Orderly Direction) put some people off. I went into it with an open mind and was glad I did. The essays made me stop and think many times. And there are some I’ve repeatedly read because they’ve struck a chord with me.
Where it’s led me
My idea for this blog came from my work with The Artist’s Way. A seed was planted when I was working my way through the tasks. At the time I wished several times that I was blogging so I could do a weekly review, discuss tasks and have a record of how I was feeling through the whole experience. But I decided at the time to keep my focus on the course rather than divide my attention.
I’ve also spent the last few months working on my memoir/life story about my time in New Zealand. I had started the project before The Artist’s Way and enjoyed returning to it and continuing once I’d completed the course. Many of the things I read in The Artist’s Way helped me to cultivate my story.
Over the coming weeks I will share more about my biggest takeaways from The Artist’s Way.
Have you read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron? What did you think? Or are you keen to read it now? You can leave a comment below or contact me if you’d like to share your thoughts.
You can find out more about Julia Cameron and The Artist’s Way here.