Since its publication in 1992, I have treasured my copy of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, a seminal book about the spirituality of creativity, which also includes a 12-week program to clarify and deepen the artist’s path. I loved the chapter titles, the quotes, and the ideas. I even read the book several times—sometimes in bits and pieces and at other times, front to back in a few sittings.
But I never actually followed the 12-week course. This is not to say my life didn’t benefit from Cameron’s work; it did, and I hope the friends and students and patients with whom I shared Cameron’s ideas were also led to deeper engagement with their arts.
A few months ago, faced with more books than I could house (seriously overcrowded: imagine Miss Havisham with a book jones), I took boxes and boxes off to St. Vinnie’s, feeling very noble and much lighter. I remember hesitating with The Artist’s Way, but felt I’d yielded what wisdom I could from it; now it was another seeker’s turn.
So there I was last Saturday, browsing in Vinnie’s. I scanned a shelf of books, and reached for my old copy of The Artist’s Way. I flipped through the pages, landing on one of those wonderful quotes peppered throughout its pages and flipped back to the beginning…I bought it back for a dollar, came home, and earnestly began the 12-week course Cameron has outlined.
All the lovely excuses that for years had kept my relationship with the book confined to air-kissing and benign but surface-only involvement, have crumbled. Finally, I am ready and the teacher has appeared. Again.
All I can say is that it’s a far, far better thing than I have ever done. I’m one week in, and cannot believe what’s been excavated and revealed, just by following the “Morning Pages” writing exercise. It’s explained by Cameron, here (along with other aspects of the course and information about a live video version: http://juliacameronlive.com/basic-tools/morning-pages/.) Note well, dear reader: You do not need to spend money; get the book (at a library) and dig in…if you’re ready. Or buy it used–my copy only cost a dollar. The second time.
Basically, the Morning Pages are three pages of free-writing done every morning, faithfully. Regardless of the form your artistic expression takes: painting, writing, cooking, gardening, composing, photography, teaching, healing, cake-decorating, doctoring, lawyering, whatever…Cameron prescribes the Morning Pages and asks that they be handwritten. (There are studies that emphasize the benefits of doing this type of writing by hand rather than typing. I type, because it flows better for me, but try both and see what works best for yourself.) She also stresses that no one else should ever read these and even recommends that you don’t re-read them; they’re strictly for “off-loading” your brain’s white noise and helping you encounter your critics, blocks, shadow and emotions…and for me, they’re doing this in spades and more. My dreams have been parading across my Morning Pages, along with memories and feelings that are surprising me and freeing my spirit. Connections have been made that are startling.
What I love about Cameron’s book is that it’s for everyone, of any age. It doesn’t matter how creative energy is translated through your talents (or how you would like it to be), your art will benefit from following the program. I’m excited to see what transformations will bud and bloom over the next 11 weeks…let me know if you’ve completed the course or considered it.
If you’re not ready, file this for later; if you’re ready, the teacher is, too. Joy to you.
Two other authors whose works have energized my creativity: Eric Maisel and Cathy A. Malchiodi