Everyone I've met or spoken to has described The Artist's Way as a Life Changer, and without wishing to overplay anything, it really is. I didn't manage to make it past the first week on my first attempt, I have to admit. I just wasn't ready or open enough to the possibilities or receptive enough. After my cat passed away last year I went into this deep funk where I just couldn't even get to my studio let alone create anything and I bumbled along like that pretty much until this spring when I figured that enough was enough and I had to shake myself out of it. So, I started The Artist's Way again and I'm now on Week Ten of Twelve and haven't looked back. The book itself started off as a series of informal courses for writers, but the author Julia Cameron quickly realised that the principles could be applied to just about any creative person who felt blocked in their medium. The foundation of the twelve week course (and yes, there are echoes of alcohol recovery in it and twelve step programmes) are:
- the Morning Pages, where you have to write anything and everything for three pages every day in a journal without fail, without judgement, and without proofreading, censorship or reading them back. This clears the mind ready for the day and the tasks ahead
- the Artist Date, where you do something fun and nice for your artist each week, the basic premise being that your Inner Artist is a small child that needs loving and nurturing and treats. You gradually work your way up to more than one a week and you're encouraged to be as adventurous as possible
- the Tasks, where you are given a series of exercises on a theme each week that make you examine yourself and your desires
It starts off hard and it gets harder, but it really does work. The weird thing I've found with the course, and the author talks a lot about synchronicity, is that during the course of a week I'll start to feel an issue bubble up from the depths, only to find that the next week addresses that very issue. You can really feel the layers of the onion peeling back and the book is always right there to guide you through it.
The other thing that I've noticed, and this is where the course really steps into the life changing category, is that the exercises open up ALL areas of your life. I've become more honest and open about things with people, stand up for myself more, express my needs, and generally feel much better about everything, not just creativity. I seem to be taking things more in my stride now, whereas before I would let minor crises define me and shut me down. Not any more. I've been recommending this book to so many people, and I'm definitely recommending it to you. I'm also interested to know if any of you have followed the course and what effect it had on your life? Do let me know.