on May 19, 2003
This 229-page book is actually a course to free your creativity. The entire course is based upon the principle that the artist must have faith to be creative. It is the author's conviction that the Creator encourages creativity in all people.
The book is broken down into twelve weekly lessons. There are several miscellaneous sections. Each weekly lesson has tasks and exercises to be completed. Sidebars provide quotes and tidbits of information to uplift the soul. The divisions of the manual are as follow:
In the introduction, the author explains how she began teaching and eventually developed her seminars and lectures into a book.
Spiritual Electricity: The Basic Principles defines the ten spiritual principles, gives directions for using this course, and tells the reader what to expect from the course.
The Basic Tools introduces the two primary tools of the course: the morning pages and the artist date. The morning pages are three handwritten pages, penned in stream-of-consciousness, without looking back at the previous pages. The artist date is time set aside to be spent with your inner artist. There is even a creativity contract.
Week 1: Recovering a Sense of Safety deals with realizing what negative beliefs and hurts from the past are blocking or restricting your creativity and replacing them with positive affirmations.
Week 2: Recovering a Sense of Identity begins with a section called "Going Sane." It deals with the people you surround yourself with in life and how they exert negative influence over your creativity.
Week 3: Recovering a Sense of Power leaps right into anger management, shame, and dealing with criticism. It examines how most people are afraid that there is a God watching everything we do.
Week 4: Recovering a Sense of Integrity is about learning to distinguish between the mask you wear for the public and your real inner feelings. There are exercises in learning what you really want from life and in sensory deprivation.
Week 5: Recovering a Sense of Possibility begins with the following sentence: "One of the chief barriers to accepting God's generosity is our limited notion of what we are in fact able to accomplish." This lesson teaches us to break through those barriers.
Week 6: Recovering a Sense of Abundance will have you tossing out clothing and gathering rocks. It teaches us that there is abundance in our lives and that our creativity requires its own portion of luxury.
Week 7: Recovering a Sense of Connection covers jealousy, perfectionism, risk, and learning to listen to our inner artist.
Week 8: Recovering a Sense of Strength teaches us to turn loss into gain by metabolizing the pain into energy. There is an exercise to help the artist break out of the early patterning; to overcome the negativity of childhood.
Week 9: Recovering a Sense of Compassion deals with avoiding self-defeat and learning to logically deal with fears.
Week 10: Recovering a Sense of Self-Protection enlightens us about the spiritual demons we create to battle our creativity: workaholism, fame, competition, and drought.
Week 11: Recovering a Sense of Autonomy focuses on how to handle success, how to nurture the inner artist, and the connection between nurturing the inner artist and self-respect.
Week 12: Recovering a Sense of Faith reminds us of the pitfalls to our creativity and helps us learn to have faith.
The book ends with sections on questions and answers, creativity clusters, and forming a sacred circle.
Every artist should own a copy of this book and utilize it religiously! It is the kind of manual that can be used over and over again for continual growth. I highly recommend it and feel it is a vital tool for personal creative expansion.
Having read previous reviews on this book and having dabbled with creativity on and off most of my life, finally, I decided to take the plunge and see if this book could change my life.
WELL? DOES IT WORK, DOES IT CHANGE YOUR LIFE?
Has it? Well Yes and no.
I'm not putting out massive works of art or prose, nor am I comfortable with even the pencil sketches I do. However, I am doing them again. I've had fits and starts of drawing, but this book does help you put that into perspective. You are a beginner and it is okay for your work to look like a beginners. Simple concept. Hard to internalize.
What I did find and others who use this program can probably confirm is that it helps get situations out in the open. Family stuff. When you do the morning pages, you ramble. You put down all that trash you are thinking and then you find you work to clean it up. You know all the stuff your kids, your spouse, your co-workers do, that really tick you off. You find you start to address that. Kind of a neat by-product.
MORNING PAGES ARE NOT SO BAD:
My first take on this, is dedicate a half an hour of my precious and sparse sleeping time.....? What are you nuts? Then I tried it. You have a clarity (and a drowsiness) in the AM, that is unmatchable any other time. Also, if you are like me get a whole lot less interruptions. I did the morning pages from 5:15 till 6:00 AM weekdays and after I got up on weekends. Weekends, sometimes I didn't get to them until afternoon. But, each day (except for 1 day in 12 weeks) they were religiously done.
Guess what? I'm hooked. I'm continuing and you might too. Consider this as a book (a life), you are writing, you are directing. What a concept!
MORNING PAGES LENGTH:
With the Artist's way book, I bought the journal. These 3 pages were the size of 8-1/2 X 11 pages. 3 pages do not take you 1/2 hour but more like 45 minutes to an hour. Get ready for that. It seems like a lot some days and not enough on others. You don't need a special book to do this in either. I bought a spiral notebook to pick up where the journal left off, when it was full. The journal is nice though as it has passages from the book on each page.
I found that some of the timing of the artist dates were bad. I'm sure most others will run into this as well. I did this book through the Thanksgiving, Christmas holiday. Artist's dates were often dropped and sometimes one did double-duty. However, these can be very simple. You have to make them what is important to you and that is the point of the book. It makes you feel special. I think all of us wait for others to make us feel special. Most of us could wait a very long time. Little do we realize, we have to set the standard. Make ourselves feel special. Because we are. We have to appeal to the artist within us. It can be simple or extravagant. One thing I like is pens with a 1.0mm tip. They use ink like crazy, but what a wonderful broad stroke they make on the paper. That is one of my "perks".
In the past years you've no doubt heard of people coming out of therapy accusing their parents of abuse. Many of these people were suggested into this practice by psychologists looking for a quick solution to some of their patient's psychoses. What I didn't care for in the book, is that some of the tasks appeared to be excercising these same demons. Trying to find devils in the details of past "creative blocks". Some times these blocks are cumulative and not one earth-shattering event. Like water on a rock. Sometimes the people around you were highly supportive, etc. etc.
We all have a mix of that. I felt however, that this negative aspect was overemphasized. A person sensitive to these suggestions could walk away very convinced that there was a horrible trauma they just can't quite remember.
WEEK OFF OF READING TRULY IS IMPOSSIBLE IN SOME PEOPLE'S LIVES:
One week was supposed to be one free from reading. I used it as a media free week (Radio, TV, magazines, newspapers, books and non-work email) and not from work related reading. If I neglected the reading in my job, I would have over 300 emails, very job related languishing in my in-box. I also would not be doing my job in writing specifications. Not possible in my job and not realistic in many others I'm sure. I think the author should just emphasize the noise factor or suggest doing this type of exercise on vacation.
In summary this book and its tasks were excellent and I can't recommend it highly enough. I'm going on to her book on Work creativity next, then the Right to Write and the Vein of Gold.
KEEP UP THE MORNING PAGES AND CHANGE THE WORLD - ONE PERSON AT A TIME!
on January 8, 2000
I heard about this book a few months ago and was very sceptical at first. As more and more people around me started with it, I became curious and bought myself a copy. It was the best decision I have ever made! I am in week eleven and I can safely say that this book has changed my life, completely. It has taken the South African performing arts scene by storm and everyone I know who has read or is busy reading The Artist's Way feels the same way I do! Apart from the fact the the book contains so many truths, what makes this book such a pleasure to read is that it is so well written. If you are in doubt and you need just that little bit of encouragement, if you know deep down inside that there is an artist in you, that feels neglected or that you haven't yet discovered, take the plunge and start a wonderful journey! If you are a lawyer, accountant or a mother taking care of your family at home, don't be discouraged or misled by the book's title, it is for you too!
Thank you Julia Cameron!
on December 18, 2002
I bought this book maybe 11 years ago. I'm drawn to books of this nature and I like journaling and introspection. But I don't think I've ever had the results I got from following this program.
In a nutshell, she asks that you write 3 pages longhand every morning, and take yourself out for something special once every week (artist dates). There are also weekly writing exercises and projects to do: "List 5 things you are not allowed to do. Now, do those things on paper: act it out, paint it, collage it, dance it", or, "If you had 5 other lives to lead, what would you do in each of them?", or, "List 5 favorite foods from your childhood. Buy yourself one of them this week".
It's a lot to keep track of, (especially the morning pages when you hate waking up in the mornings). But, it really did something. The combination of all these things made a difference in my life. At the time I did this program, I was completely lost. I had just moved to Bryce Canyon, Utah to get away from everybody I knew and to "find myself" (blech--hate that expression). I was all alone, working in the lodge, hiking, and reading. Then, I started playing piano again, which I hadn't tinkered with in years. There was a rec room in the employee dorms where I practiced. Then, someone heard me and asked if I wanted to play in the dining room, for tips. I did! When I got back to Vegas, I started taking lessons again. Then, I started teaching piano myself. I also began trying out for plays in community theater, something I hadn't done since elementary school. I ended up going back to school and getting a teaching license. I'm now a first grade teacher for the school district, and I love my job. I also perform sketch comedy and improv comedy, and I still play piano.
I can't attest that each and every one of these things is directly due to the Artist's Way program, but being in Utah following those steps sure felt like a turning point for me. I actually wrote Julia Cameron a thank-you letter. Now, there are newsgroups and bulleting boards on the internet where you can do the program with other people and talk to them about your progress. I'm a loner so that approach wouldn't work for me, but I think it's good for certain people.
Anyway, I highly recommend this book, if you think you can make the commitment to follow her suggestions.
on December 16, 1999
I received this book as a gift and was skeptical but I decided to do the steps with a close friend who lived across the country. Once a week we would call each other to discuss that week's chapter. Doing it with a friend helped to keep me going. I found that it truly awakened the artist inside of me that had laid dorment for years while I miserably trodded through corporate life and denied my creativity. Once I began to explore my creativity I felt much better spirtually, emotionally and physically. I ended up completing a guide book which is now for sale and I completed a novel which is not published yet. Whenever I feel depressed or overwhelmed with my life, I start the morning pages and almost instantly feel more in control. Even if you never thought of yourself as an artist, this book helps with self-exploration that may bring forth parts of you that you never realized where there.
on August 2, 2005
Walking home last night I saw a homeless man trudging the streets, bent double from the weight of carrying around a dozen or more cheap plastic bags which were stuffed full of old tin cans and other junk. It struck me as a symbol of all the psychological junk and baggage we carry around with us in our lives which we have accumulated over the years - and how liberating it would be just to drop this baggage and walk away from it. After 11 weeks on Julia Cameron's course, this is how I feel. I am a classical musician who lost my childhood enjoyment of playing whilst studying at a top European conservatoire - over-critical academic life battered my creativity out of me and playing was a trial. Music became to be about who had the best technique - expressing the music itself didn't matter and I began to hate it. I started to suffer dreadful stage fright, and gave up. But underneath I still longed to play. This book has helped me dig right down to the roots of the problem, I could literally feel the layers and layers of restrictive beliefs being dug away week by week. Now I feel transformed and excited, self-assured and organised, with all the resources I need to succeed. I feel like an excited child again! In an almost spooky way Julia gradually worked through my blocks - feeling too old, too poor, too lazy, negative family attitudes, hostility from teachers to creative students etc. I have a couple of things to say to the few critics who have given low ratings here (funny how no one has said - `I've done the 12 weeks to the letter and it didn't work' isn't it?!!) - Julia does mention `God' a lot, but if you actually read the book, you will see she explains that `God' is shorthand for Mother Nature or whatever creative force you think may or may not be around us in the universe - she doesn't mean Christianity - this isn't a book on Evangelicalism, but `God' is quicker than listing the dozen or so alternatives every time she wants to refer to some kind of creative force. Secondly, the morning pages are nothing to do with writing a book or learning to write. They are a form of self-therapy whereby you wake up early and in your semi-asleep state, you write down all the nonsense that is going around in your head. This clears the decks for the day, stops your thoughts becoming obsessively stuck in the past or on old problems. On reading my morning pages from week 1 I can't believe how bitter, depressed and downtrodden I was then. This is why it is important to do them in the morning, not at night, and not to replace them with say, 30 minutes of painting or pottery etc. I would say to anyone thinking of doing this book - follow it to the letter, it is a lot of work and you will feel resistance to it at the beginning and in the latter weeks when you may have to confront some painful old demons (especially in week 9 when you have to read all your morning pages and see what you were really like!) but if you swallow your pride and take a leap of faith `the net will appear' and you will be transformed forever. I'm off to sort out my next concert - good luck to you all!
on August 23, 2002
There are only two books I recommend artists of any kind to read, Natalie Goldberd "Writing Down the Bones", and this book by Julia Cameron. I have read more how-to creativity/writing/journaling/artist books than my poor shelves can hold. I stopped buying them after this book.
I'm an avid journal keeper, it helps me free my mind. There are times, however, when my mind wants to remain locked. This book, complete with freeing exercises, changed all that. I keep the morning pages every day now and have little trouble with my creativity. This book was a god-send to a generation who finally realized that all things in life require some creativity and that unlocking it is the key to a healthy, fullfilled, and well-lived life.
I cannot recommend this book enough. I also recommend the companion "Morning Pages Journal", but only if you aren't sure where to begin. If you are certain you can pick up a blank notebook and begin following the advice she gives, then the journal isn't really necessary.
This is the book that every artist and journaler needs.
on May 28, 2000
This book was a big step in reconnecting to my passion for playing the piano. I followed the steps from doing the morning pages to taking the many baby steps to reach a goal whether it be learning a new piece or playing a recital. I learned about the pitfalls to creativity which included self-judgment and being around people who didn't support me whether they were negative in their comments or crazy-making. A lot of the book relates to the thought processes we have developed in the past that hamper our creativity. Also I learned to "keep going"!
Another book I have read which I found incredibly helpful in all areas of my life, whether it be in relationship with my husband or others, or in day to day existence is "Working on Yourself Doesn't Work" by Ariel and Shya Kane. I feel readers would find this book valuable as it describes how being in the moment (not being swept up in the past or the future) can enhance your life and also your creativity. The concepts the Kane's present greatly enhanced my creative output and also my joy in playing and being myself.
on May 24, 2002
I purchased this book about 3 years ago. I have read it continously the past 3 years. I have given it as gifts to numerous friends and family. I am not a professional artist by any means...I sell electronic components/widgets. For years I knew I wanted to get in touch with my "creative" side, but couldn't find the how to's or make the "time"..sorry excuses. Well, this book came into my life and I started following Ms. Cameron's exercises...A whole new world opened up for me. I started noticing simple things, like birds! Flowers blooming, sunlight reflecting on the pond down the street from where I live. And I followed her MUST DO instructions of keeping a Morning Journal. One must write LONG HAND 3 pages of stream of consciousness ramblings. You can write anything..it isn't an exercise in creative writing. It is a ritual of clearing your self out so you can allow NEW stuff to enter into your creative soul.
I recommend this book very highly to EVERYONE!
Artist, salesperson, auto mechanic, mother, teenager..everyone can benefit from this easy and enjoyable book to read.
on March 18, 2000
I first heard about this book 6 months ago, then again 2 months ago (synchronicity!). Both times I'd gotten to a point in my life where I was asking the question, "There is much more to me than who I am now but WHAT? " This book has quite changed my life. Today I know what my fears/blocks are. Where they stem from. HOW TO WORK WITH THEM and HOW TO FREE MYSELF FROM THEM. Today, I have the freedom to be Anita the person as well as wife,mother, sister and daughter. I found the Morning pages, Artists Dates and Tasks liberating to do. When one week is busier than others, I "extend" my week to complete my Tasks at my own pace. If you're looking for "YOU" then this is the place to start! I hope you have as much fun as I am.... My thanks to Ms. Cameron for having the courage to write this INCREDIBLE book!