on September 22, 2004
Funny, most of the reviews on this book are either ecstatic or disgusted. I see both sides. True, this woman DOES think she has reached it and knows absolutely everything; she tries to put the artistic process (for any artist, amateur or professional, in any medium) in a box; she tries to deny that being an artist has to involve any real work; she teaches you to be selfish; and she is awfully repetitive. THAT SAID, a few of her individual ideas are so epiphanic (is that a word?) that if you come to any one of them for the first time, you will have got more than your money's worth. Though the whole thing IS a bit wishy-washy and new-agey, and though some things she thinks are awfully vital just don't seem that huge to me, some of her points nevertheless can't be missed. It goes on an individual basis--some people really need some of this stuff, others have seen it before. Some of the exercises will show you something, some will seem silly. Give it a try, tailor it to your own needs. The people who will get the most out of this book are the many "silent poets" who have always wanted to try their hand at drawing or dancing or singing but who haven't because they've been afraid of failing or of looking silly. Those with a happy, fulfilling artistic life will roll their eyes over it-but they should realize it is written specifically for people who are dealing with a major block. It's only fair to consider it with that particular audience in mind.
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 January 5, 2000
I bought the Artists' Way by Julia Cameron six weeks ago and I won't say it's changed my life - yet, but certainly my attitude towards creativity.
Julia Cameron is an award winning American screenwriter who believes that it is our birthright to be creative, but that our creativity is stymied by limiting beliefs, self sabotage and fear. In a 12 week programme, she guides the reader through re-discovering and excavating their creativity by writing morning pages (writing at least three pages of stream of consciousness first thing in the morning) and artist dates (doing creative, fun things at least once a week). There are other exercises which aim to get to the bottom of self limitation and liberate the artist within.
One of the themes throughout is 'showing up on the page'ie writing the morning pages, regardless of mood, enthusiasm and just doing it. I have found this to be a liberation. Before I wrote when I was in the mood, but now realise that moods are temporary and that writing as much as you can on a consistent basis begins to open up avenues hitherto closed.
Another useful theme is taking small steps - before I had to write the great novel -now I realise that writing a letter to a newspaper for example is a valid way of writing and self - expression. 'The longest journey begins with a single step'is a Chinese saying. Here Julia Cameron shows ways of making those steps. She writes of 'filling the Well'and looking after the Artist in you by giving it treats, taking it out to interesting places and doing new things, seeing things differently, creating visual stimuli which reflects the life you want and stimulating the long dormant Artist to create.
Another key theme is that of Synchronicity. As a wise person stated 'Leap and the net will appear'. Once we start making and opening ourselves up to changes then all sorts of doors open to support us.
If I have one complaint about the book, I guess that it may not be practical enough for some people who want to know not just how to create, but how to market and channel their creativity. The programme makes many references to 'the Great Creator', the 'Universe'and other kinds of spiritual references, which some people may find offputting, although I personally didn't.
In many ways the Artists' Way is limited by being aimed at Artists. In fact it has a much larger relevance to all of us in finding creative ways of living, It is, essentially, a Design for Life, creating and finding ways to enjoy our lives much more fully and realising that being creative isn't something to be denied or suppressed, but celebrated and enjoyed.
on June 26, 1998
This book has completely changed my perspective about my creative ability. At first my practical side felt very silly doing some of the exercises. But after a while a began to realize how much better I felt about myself and my ability to be creative... not do everything by the book. I began oil painting, which I've even entered into contests. I went to Professional Culinary School, in spite of everyone telling me I was crazy. Now those same people are envious of my ability and attitude to discover something that makes me happy and actually pursue it. So many people dream, but never act on those dreams. As practical as I am and probably always will be, thanks to this book, I'm happy that I'm taking these steps toward self fullfillment, and I've established a balance in my life I have never previously experienced. My only criticism is all of the references to God. I'm not athiest, however I feel strongly that the motivation comes from a higher power within yourself and is in your control, and should not be limited to an association with a particular religious figure. Not everyone believes in God, like another individual has written in this review section. I could see how the constant references could turn someone off. But if you look past that element of the book there are some real powerful tools that can help anyone become a more creative individual. The religious connotations are not really necessary. If you can keep that in perspective, then I highly recommend this book!
on November 4, 2003
Every time I pick up this book, I'm put off by the author's style -- it's so full of cutesy affectations, dumb little puns, and hokey metaphors repeated too many times -- the bad habits that good writing teachers steer their students away from. So it's hard for me to trust this person as a teacher of art-making, if writing is supposed to be her own art form and she does it so sloppily. Nevertheless, her course WORKS! Her style may rub you the wrong way, but the content is very effective. In the three years since I first read it and started doing the exercises, it's turned my creative life around, with astonishing results. So thank you, Julia Cameron, cutesy-wootsey prose and all.
on January 1, 2006
I am a Julia Cameron fan; have several of her books and went through the Artist's Way with a group after seeing Ms. Cameron in person. However, as I read Ms. Cameron's books, hazy thoughts of another author/book tried to surface in my consciousness, and I recently found it! Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande is extraordinary. In this 1934-copyrighted book are the how-to's of "morning pages," the "artist's date" concept, and the importance of "walking"--the three hallmarks of Ms. Cameron's book (different vernacular, same plan). Off the top of my head I remember each book suggests going a long period of time without writing, so that when one finally writes again, the words flow. Several other shared ideas exist, but you get the idea.
Two points: First, if you love Artist's Way, you should get Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande--it distills many of Ms. Cameron's ideas into a shorter, beautifully written, not-God-centered (okay, one big difference) book. And two, in my humble opinion, Ms. Brande deserves more than a place in the Artist's Way bibliography.
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.