After so long, I am so excited – scared! nervous! ack! – to finally be starting my Artist’s Way journey. Again. With you! It is both nerve-wracking and wonderful. When I started this book last spring/summer with a group of friends, it was a group adventure. We were all in it together, and I didn’t know what to expect. I was just glad to be doing a group activity, and curious about the book’s tagline: “A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity”, and it’s second tagline, or hook, as you could call it, which runs across the cover: “A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self”.
My First Attempt
During my first attempt at said course, I met with my friends once a week. During our week, we brought ourselves on “artist’s dates”, meant to rejuvenate our non-judgmental inner artist and child, and journalled – or attempted to, or procrastinated! – daily, writing our 3 “morning pages”.
I really liked the experience. I am usually one of the more creative people in my group of friends, especially with words, so it felt very comforting to be in a group where people were trying to be more creative. Usually groups I’m in are related to work, or in the past, school. Creativity was never in very high demand. So here I saw, all of a sudden, in a group where being a creative weirdling was an advantage. Yay! My heart sang.
My Experience with Morning Pages
The group activities we did were always full of laughter. For me, one of the most freeing things I did alone was the morning pages experience. Sometimes I was busy or reluctant and did not do them, I’ll admit. But! When I did, wow! The feeling surprised me. I felt so relieved. I unburdened my worries and anxieties onto three little pages, and then was able to go about my day. It was amazing how writing down the negative thoughts helped me to not think of them during the day or evening. I was even safe from the demons before bed! It was such a relief.
On the days I didn’t do the morning pages, I really felt the difference. I found myself more cranky, more worried, and likely to experience heart palpitations or anxiety attacks (which I do suffer from, sometimes). I knew it was because I had forgotten my morning pages. This made me more determined.
Besides this, I also found that Julia Cameron’s book did help me gain some self-esteem. I felt more determined to finish my current work-in-progress fantasy book. I wrote more eagerly, more often, and the quality of my work improved. It was so exhilarating. After months of struggle, scenes flowed into my mind. After months of working creatively and feeling alone in my endeavors, I had a group of friends who were also trying to re-ignite their creative sparks. After so long of back-and-forths, I could finally sit down at a determined convenient time each day and write. And I didn’t throw out everything I wrote, either. I kept it. It was good stuff! It has now led me into a third draft of the first 7 chapters of my book.
Unfortunately, I stopped the momentum when I moved from California to Florida, which was a big move. And I didn’t resume my journey, and made excuses, one of them being that my group did not continue without me – they, too, got swamped by life.
But now I am starting it again, and it’s because of you guys! I noticed extra interest in all the posts where I mentioned Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, and seeing your heart respond, I remembered how mine had responded, too. So now I start my journey over, and instead of my physical group with me, I have all of you to witness my progress (or lack thereof – we’ll see!).
Today is Day 0, because so far I have read the book’s Introduction and Foreward. In it, Cameron gives a magical list of absolute gem advice, which she calls the Basic Principles. They are as follows, and I will let you think on them and judge them, take them up, or leave them by the wayside – whatever you wish:
Julia Cameron’s Basic Principles Creative People Should Live By
“Creativity is the natural order of life. Life is energy: pure creative energy.
“There is an underlying, in-dwelling creative force infusing all of life – including ourselves.
“When we open ourselves to our creativity, we open ourselves to the creatior’s creativity within us and our lives.
“We are, ourselves, creations. And we, in turn, are meant to continue creativity by being creative ourselves.
“Creativity is God’s gift to us. Using our creativity is our gift back to God.
“The refusal to be creative is self-will and is counter to our true nature.
“When we open ourselves to exploring our creativity, we open ourselves to God: good orderly direction.
“As we open our creative channel to the creator, many gentle but powerful changes are to be expected.
“It is safe to open ourselves up to greater and greater creativity.
“Our creative dreams and yearnings come from a divine source. As we move towards our dreams, we move toward our divinity.”
Now wait, WAIT! Before the word “God” or the idea of our creativity being given to us has you deciding to leave – please just wait. Know that I, too, take Cameron’s word with skepticism. Hear me out.
Thoughts on Writing + Spirituality
When I read these the first time – and even now, to be honest – I wasn’t sure how to feel about them. Part of me said, “Wait a second. God wants me to use my creativity. But what if I don’t want to write about God? What if I write about murderers, or something dark, why would God want me to write about that?” Similar thoughts in that train circled through my head, and I determined that Cameron was taking the Higher Power (or God, or whatever you may want to call Him or Her, or maybe you don’t believe in any thing at all) too seriously and linked Him too much with what was, really, a selfish sort of thing we do for ourselves.
So then came a dilemma for me, in a way. Because I am a person of faith, who believes in serving God, but I am also creative. How to balance that out? Well, it’s another, long sortof story, but let’s just say…I’ve accepted my identity as a writer, who isn’t likely to stop writing, who is also trying to become a good servant of God. And that’s okay. It’s where I’m at.
And I also believe that we can use our creativity to write about spiritual experiences. I’m not sure if I do believe, as Cameron implies, that the act of writing is inherently spiritual. But! Though this may deter you from wanting to read my Artist’s Way journey further, don’t fear – I DO read on, I DO find tremendous creative benefit from reading her book, and who is to know what happens when I get past chapter 6? That was the furthest I got with my group before. Suffice to say, I have seen and experienced the benefits of Cameron’s work, regardless of her personal philosophy, or in spite of, or because of – it doesn’t matter. What matters is, it works.
What’s Coming Next…
Want to see if I’m right? Well then, keep an eye peeled! (What does that even mean? Who would want to PEEL their own eye? Maybe a study of weird phrases is worth a separate post some day, hmmm….haha!) I will be posting an Artist’s Way post every week now, steadily. My day is Thursday. And I may squeeze in another post or two on other topics, as they come to me, or I land a couple special guest post ideas I’ve been meditating on.
Would love to hear your thoughts on Cameron’s Basic Principles!
See you next week,