The Artist's Way Book Review

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The Artist's Way Book Review

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron is a twelve-week program to help you recover from your creative block.  She teaches artists exercises to help them become unblocked.  Although I am not an artist, I found this book extremely helpful in my blogging.  I saw an interview with the author and was amazed by her knowledge and eloquent words.  I just had to reread the book and see what I missed the first time, and maybe I can pick up some new tips.  It takes time to go through the book and complete all the exercises.

The first time I read The Artist's Way, I began the habit of doing the morning pages every morning.  It was difficult when I first started because I had no idea what to write. I would write a sentence or two and sit there for a long time, not knowing what to write next.

However, after a few weeks of consistently writing every morning, I was able to write a whole page with the words flowing. It helped me immensely because, as I wrote, I would sometimes solve problems. Then, as I discussed my situation to myself on the page, a solution would come to me.


The Artist's Way Synopsis


The Artist's Way describes the following two tools used throughout this program. Hopefully, these tools will become habits that you will continue doing for the rest of your life because you will come to enjoy them. For example, you will write morning pages every day when you wake up. Also, you will go on an Artist's Date once a week. Do these two things consistently to stay unblocked and keep your creative flow.


1. Morning Pages


Julia Cameron begins The Artist's Way by teaching you to write morning pages.  She instructs her students to write longhand on three 8.5 x 11 pieces of paper their thoughts every morning. Do it no matter how you are feeling. Your morning pages are the cornerstone of the whole program. Write whatever comes to mind. It will often begin with the events that happened the day before or what you need to do today. Then it will flow into other topics that are on your mind.

These pages are not written for perfection or for anyone else to read. The morning pages help you release everything in your mind and put it on paper. Sometimes you will work through a problem in your life at that time. You may also come up with new ideas.

"In order to get to where he is now, Ted had to refeel and mourn the wounding he had endured as a young writer.  He had to make his peace with the lost years this wounding had cost him.  A page at a time, he had to slowly build strength." (p. 134)

At the end of your morning pages, you may have a question that you would like an answer to in your life, such as what should your next project be or how you should handle a problem in life. Ask the question, and then pause; you may get an answer. Of course, you will not always receive a response. But keep asking, and maybe someday you will.


2. Artist's Date


The artist's date is when you set aside two hours every week to do something fun all by yourself. Do not go on these dates with anyone else, nor bring your dog. You can go for a walk in the woods, visit a museum, or watch the sunset. However, this is not the time to go someplace to read or listen to music with headphones. This date is to connect with your artist child.

"As artists, we must learn to be self-nourishing.  We must become alert enough to consciously replenish our creative resources as we draw on them - to restock the trout pond, so to speak.  I call this process filling the well." (p. 21)


Creative Recovery


In The Artist's Way, creative recovery is the process you will take while going through the twelve-week program. The author steps you through exercises that delve into your childhood to figure out why you are blocked, then work through the pain to get you to a place where you have your creative flow again. Doing the work will help you work through emotions and how to deal with them healthily. Each week you will answer questions that will stimulate your memory. 

"Many artists begin a piece of work, get well along in it, and then find, as they near completion, that the work seems mysteriously drained of merit.  It's no longer worth the trouble.  To therapists, this surge of sudden disinterest ("It doesn't matter") is a routine coping device employed to deny pain and ward off vulnerability." (p. 68)

You'll have questions to answer and tasks to do every week of the course. The Artist's Way Workbook provides these exercises in one place and space to write out your answers and do check-ins.


My Analysis


I read The Artist's Way a few years ago and began writing morning pages, which I have been doing ever since.  They have helped me figure out problems and to write with more flow. At first, it was challenging.  I would write a few sentences and then be stuck with what to say next.  It would take me several minutes to come up with something else to write.  Eventually, it got better.  I now write one page in my journal every day. 

Since rereading this book, I decided to try to write three pages every day, as the author suggests. Although I don't find it challenging to decide what to write because it flows now, it has increased the time it takes me to write in my journal. It used only to take me around 45 minutes to write every morning. Now it takes me 90 minutes. It cuts into time that I had scheduled for other things, such as doing my creative writing in the morning.

One thing, though, I would never do is dwell on hurtful feelings or anger because that sets up my day to feel that way all day. I may touch on those topics, but I don't stay there. I quickly move on to something more positive. The author, however, says to write out all of your hate and anger. I disagree with this point.

The Artist's Way is for creative people who feel blocked or know they should be in a career more aligned with their talents. This book will get you through all of the roadblocks to open up and create again or in a more public way. Some artists hide their talent because they were criticized for it when they were young. Show the world the gift that you have. 

The Artist's Way is for creative people who feel blocked or know they should be in a career more aligned with their talents.  This book will get you through all of the roadblocks to open up and create again or in a more public way.  Some artists hide their talent because they were criticized for it when they were young.  Show the world the gift that you have. 

The Artist's Way Workbook is a companion to the book where you can do all the exercises and write out your answers. This workbook is very helpful. There are assignments after each chapter to take action on what you have learned. 

I think this book is excellent for any broken people. It helps you go deep into yourself to find where the problem is, the reason you are blocked. And it allows you to heal and get past that. It is a therapy you can do yourself.