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The Artist's Way: 25th Anniversary Edition Paperback – October 25, 2016
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The GOD component. I'm not religious, and people who are religious may feel very differently about this book. It shouldn't matter whether I'm religious or not, though, because the author lets you know in the very beginning that you don't have to believe in a fundamental Christian GOD to benefit from the book, and that you should (drum roll) make the word mean...whatever YOU want it to mean. Um. Okay, that may be true if you also lack fundamental logic skills and tend not to fall on the "rational" side of the road. But this is a weird, Christian-biased book. It just is. All her examples have GOD in it. I bought the workbook, and it has exercises such as "Write down ways GOD has wronged you..." in it. Tell me: how does one who lacks faith in a Christian god, and doesn't have knowledge or experience in the whole "guilt-based" tradition, write about such things?
I'm a very rational person, and this book is not for rational people. I don't think the creative process is necessarily spiritual, and it certainly isn't metaphysical, as this book would have you believe. I can't buy into a single one of her ideas. The main one are the "morning pages" that you write: three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing every morning. Meh. I've been doing journal writing for years and years, and I don't think this is much different. I think any time you can put aside for yourself and your thoughts is going to make you more productive. It's not rocket science. Or metaphysics.
Maybe a hobby artist, or someone who only does art to make him/herself feel better would find this book useful. If you're into "creative energy" and "finding your place in this world" (as some reviewers have said), maybe you'll get something out of it. I don't know. I'm a professional designer, and I was looking for a book to help me solidify a creative process. But seeing as I design for clients and to make myself more skilled in my field, art isn't really about expressing myself in some weird Christian fairyland of energy and self and GOD and other weird nameless stuff so much as it is about doing something that a. makes sense for the client; and b. makes sense to me. I think that the author thinks of art as something extremely personal and tied up in mystery, and I really don't think art that is meant for an audience is so much about spiritual personal expression. Most "career" artists aren't particularly religious, even, and their art is a craft and exercise in expertise as much as it is about "positive energy" and solipsistic creationism. At any rate, I found no insight into a useful creative process in this book.
And there's really no way I can imagine that someone who didn't believe strongly in spirituality could take ANYTHING away from this book. The author says, sure, that "it works for anyone," but you can't really have your cake and eat it, too: the "higher power" thing runs thick in this book, and for people who are into that sort of thing, it probably will make sense. But for people who aren't into that sort of thing, it reads like a very disjointed, far-fetched, metaphysical, self-indulgent, useless piece.
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!