artist’s way: introduction

I started Julia Cameron’s book/course, The Artist’s Way.  It had been mentioned in several articles and art blogs I read recently, so maybe the universe was like hey-carly-if-you-are-bored-or-something-maybe-give-this-book-a-go.  I figured for $16.00, it was worth a try.  It may provoke some different inspiration, confidence, or creativity.

I’m nearing completion of week one of twelve.  I’m excited. I’m looking forward to this creative endeavor and exploration into myself as an artist and as a human.  If I make a plan to write at least one post on each week’s progress, I will be self-obligated (I’m not entirely sure that is a phrase?) to finish all twelve weeks.  I’m doing this on my own, so in the back of my mind, I know I can stop or slack whenever the mood strikes.  I am hoping regular posts will keep me on track.

Artist's Way
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

The two main tools emphasized in The Artist’s Way, that carry through all twelve weeks are morning pages and artist dates.  I am loving morning pages.  It’s nice to finally give myself permission to just write my thoughts in the stream of consciousness—without caring about grammar or spelling, without over-thinking or analyzing the whys behind how I think or feel.  It’s a very therapeutic exercise.

I realize it’s slightly sad I apparently needed a random author to give me that permission?  I’m also not allowed to read these pages until at least Week Eight.

Most of this week’s tasks included simply thinking over my life and the people who have negatively affected my creativity.  Making a list of the creativity monsters in my life was tricky.  I tend to be overly empathetic to a fault–you mean some people are intentionally hurtful and unsupportive?  Are you sure I didn’t just misunderstand?  Maybe they just had a bad day?

Regarding my artistic pursuits, I haven’t had any overwhelmingly negative interactions that spring to mind.  Most people have been kind about my talent or supportive toward my work.  Some are apathetic and I have, of course, received rejection letters from plenty of galleries and exhibitions.  I know that is to be expected though, and nothing I should take personally.

At worst, I’ve had a couple of instructors who were creatively stifling, while that may have been frustrating at the time; it wasn’t detrimental to my artistic ambitions.  My grandmother doesn’t understand plenty of my life choices or my artwork.  (She is a lovely, sweet woman.  She adores my realistic watercolor work, and will shamelessly boast about it to her friends.  However, any other style of my work doesn’t seem as much like ‘real’ art to her. She refers to it as interesting or different.  It’s her polite way of saying she doesn’t like it.)

The hardest task for me this week was the alternate lives exercise which consists of deciding what I would do if I had five other lives.  In theory, I can be whatever I want, regardless or education, location, training, etc.  This was harder than I expected.

I chose:
1. Archeologist (I briefly considered this as a profession when I was younger, I thought it would be fascinating to literally uncover history.  Then I realized, I probably don’t have the patience and my career ambitions moved elsewhere.)
2.  Actor (This could be neat? It would basically be playing make-believe/dress-up for adults while getting paid.  In my alternate actor life, I would be well known and respected, because alternate lives are magic–so being successful is obviously ideal.  If I get to choose my alternate life career—why would I choose to be a struggling actor?)
3.  Travel photographer/photojournalist  (I adore photography.  I have always loved to travel and capture the culturally idiosyncratic beauty of a new place.)
4.  Singer/songwriter (In this life—I would, of course, have talent in the areas of singing and songwriting.  In this regular real life of mine, I most certainly don’t.)
5.  High fashion hair stylist.  (Those crazy awesome stylists that whose work can be seen in shoots for publications like Vogue– the ones with the crazy objects in the hair, lace, branches, ships. It’s just sort of amazing.)

Once these are chosen I have to figure out a way to incorporate one or several of these occupations into my life.  I’m supposed to be one.

I assume this is supposed to stimulate creativity by forcing an alteration of daily life? Forcing me think outside of the box, a creative struggle to figure out how to apply elements of an entirely different career to my life.

10 responses to “artist’s way: introduction”

    • Really? That is great to hear. I am looking forward to doing this one, but I am a little nervous too. She makes it sound like if you do it write it can be pretty emotional–so we will see. I would love to grow more as an artist though–there is always room for improvement.


  1. You triggered me to find out more about Julia Cameron’s book/course. I do read English but if I can find it in Dutch -not to miss any specific details (I’m a Belgian)- I might get started too with this self-exploring ‘exercises’.
    I re-started creating personal artwork after a long term career as an infographics designer and though I studied art and even worked as an art teacher I am not feeling 100% self confident about my own art now, so it’s about time to get rid of that ‘block’ and to just let it flow and be happy about it.
    I will follow up your experiences with the course. Thanks for sharing!


    • I think it may be in other languages. I wouldn’t be surprised. The book has been around for about 20 years or so now. If you end up doing it too, let me know. I would love to be able to keep in touch with other people going through the course. It is supposed to be very inspiring.


  2. Nice post – I love the Alternate Lives bit. I’ve been dipping in and out of the book for about a hundred years – I always return to it when I need a little inspiration.


    • Yea, I am liking it so far. I am not sure how I feel about the alternate lives bit–I think I need another week or so before I know. It is good to get me thinking along a different train of thought, but beside that I am not sure if it has inspired any any changes in my actions and activities yet. We shall see:)


  3. I love that book and still do the morning pages it is amazing how when you write in the morning all kinds of things happen sometimes gibberish but also great ideas. it is on one of my daily practices… a great book for transition times. I have problems with the artist date anyone else? .


    • I find Artist Dates the easy part–I struggle with my morning pages. I don’t know why, because I like them well enough and I very much see the benefit of them, but I always struggle to sit myself down and do them every-single-day.


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