Twice I have attempted to make it through Julia Cameron’s now-famous 12-week creativity course, The Artist’s Way.  The purpose is to lead people to a creative recovery (or discovery), to accept ourselves as the creative people we are, and to create pathways for creativity to flow freely.  Both times I tried, I abandoned the course in week three.

At the core of the course are two basic tools: Morning Pages and Artist Dates.  Morning pages are three pages of longhand (with pen and paper) stream-of-consciousness writing you do first thing in the morning – before anything else.  Morning pages are meant to show us that we don’t need to be in the mood to create, to stop judging, to release ourselves from outcome, and to remove all the “junk” that clutters our minds and keeps us frozen creatively. The Artist Date is a block of time, to be taken alone, to nurture your creativity.  See a movie, visit a flea market, take a hike — but do it ALONE.

In addition, every week has a chapter dedicated to a specific theme or issue to work on, along with exercises (optional) that take you further with the theme.  And of course, each week concludes with a check-in.  Did you write the pages, take the artist date, uncover any truths?

I have always had great excuses for not finishing the course.  I had a full-time job, I was too tired from taking care of young kids, I had an infant at home so I couldn’t go on the artist dates, etc.  I am not a morning person, so getting up to write those pages every day gets old.  Fast.

But a fellow blogger, C.B. Wentworth, has inspired me to try again.  On her blog, she has been posting about her experience with Wreck This Journal and sharing her insights.  By sharing her journey, she’s probably learning even more than if she were working on it solo.

So today, I started The Artist’s Way again.  I wrote my morning pages and signed the “Contract” for the third time.  Each Wednesday, I will use the blog as a check-in, both to keep myself accountable and to share whatever revelations I may have that week. With the blog at my back, so to speak, I think I can make it through this time.

Just one morning in, and I’ve already noticed that I am carrying around a lot of fear.  It seems appropriate then, that the theme for Week 1 is Security.  Now after today, I will not share specifics from my morning pages because they won’t be stream-of-consciousness if I feel I’m writing for an audience.  They are meant to be entirely private.  But today I will share.  This morning when I emerged from my morning pages, I was surprised to discover that: 1) I am very afraid of this limbo phase I am in right now where I’m transitioning to a writing career but not yet earning much income, and 2) how much better I felt just by acknowledging that fear.

I am SURE this fear is creating barriers to my creative growth and hampering my process.  I hope that taking this course will break those barriers down (at least a little) and alleviate some of the trepidation I am carrying around with me.

Have you ever done The Artist’s Way or a similar program?  Have you made it through the entire course?  Any advice?

Categories: Creativity, Spirituality, The Artist's Way, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , ,

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46 Comments

  1. OH! I am so envious of you taking the Artists Way. I took “Walking in this World” by Julia Cameron and loved it. But like you I abandoned it too soon. I went all the way to chapter twelve and quit. I think I only had two weeks left to do. I still do the morning pages most days. The artists dates were the hardest for me because I do everything with my husband and felt pressured for time when I went anywhere by myself. I felt like it was a waste of time. I think I blogged about the experience of doing the book once.

    Do you know Julia has a whole web site for morning pages? It’s great! Just go there and all the others that are and ever done morning pages will message there. It’s a whole bulliten board of writers. If you want someone to do it with I’ll be happy to do it with you. I’ve always wanted to do the “Artists Way”. I can order it from Amazon and we can be each others support group.

    When I did “Walking in This World” I joined a blog called “Journaling Saves” and a group of us did it together. It was great fun. Let me know at these comments or on my blog.

  2. I did the morning pages, but never went on the dates! (TWICE, ha!)

  3. I’ve heard about it, but avoided it due to time. I look forward to your updates.

  4. I have The Artist’s Way but am not inspired to follow her groundrules. To me, being an artist means living by my own rules . . . not hers. 🙂

    If I felt that my creativity was blocked, I might crack it open. Until them, I’ll let my creativity flow from within . . .

    Good luck.

    • I don’t think they are so much rules as methods. But yes, ultimately you have to find ones that work for you. I’m still experimenting.

  5. I’m not familiar with the program, but your description struck me as a rather lonely journey to creativity. Interesting from one perspective, as your end product will be completely authentic and unique. Yet part of me responds more richly – easily? – with community and connection to spur the creative muses.

    Best of luck with your endeavor!

    • That’s an interesting point, Cathy. I too believe in the power of community and the need to support one another. However, I also think that at the end of the day, nobody is going to be able to reach down to grab and extract the meat of your soul except yourself. It takes a lot of courage and practice and working through a lot of crap. I am nowhere near there, which is why I am trying this (again).

      BUT, having said that, the fact that I’m sharing it on the blog is helping to add in the community factor. Also, Julia Cameron’s website has a whole community attached to it.

      It will be interesting to come back to this question after I am further along in the process.

  6. I think as someone else said, we have to not approach it so rigidly. If writing in the morning doesn’t work, don’t do it then. I don’t have time for Artist’s Dates. Writing is my alone time. The rest is for family.

    • I don’t think I ever did a single Artist Date when I tried it the other two times, but this time I’d really like to give it a go. It will be interesting to see if I think it makes a difference.

  7. Good for you, Julie! I’ve done the Artist’s Way and I’ve been doing morning pages for more than 20 years. Good luck!

    • Wow! I’m having a difficult time imagining 12 straight weeks much less 20 years. Any advice or words of wisdom you want to share???

  8. I can’t remember there being a course (which probably means I didn’t do it) but I definitely remember morning pages. They were great but unsustainable. Lovely book anyway.

    • What I’m wondering is whether they will ever become a habit. If I could stick with it through those initial few weeks, would it become like exercising or any other habit? I don’t know because I’ve never committed for long enough. So we’ll see. 🙂

  9. Julie, you wouldn’t return to The Artist’s Way if the program didn’t speak to you. Your everyday life is busy, and I suspect you need alone time. Congrats on signing up a third time–and on using this blog/Wednesdays to hold yourself accountable. I’m pulling for you.

  10. I have never participated in the Artist’s Way, but if this or anything works for you Julie, you should do it. Hopefully with no pressure though, huh? Life has it’s own pressures these days.

    Enjoy your writing and what you write. I think if your commited to anything, especially writing, you will write!

    Thank you for your honesty Julie. I enjoyed your post!

  11. I did the Artists Way last summer after I found the book at a garage sale. I was on vacation from my day job, so it was easy to fit in. The truth is I have always been a journaler, so it wasn’t that far off from what I did already. It was a good way to start the day. Now that I use the morning for my fiction writing time, I don’t know if I would stick to it. I did the artist dates, but I always arranged them to be things I wanted to do anyway. It was a good experience, but nothing life changing. I am interested to see what you get out of it.

  12. I’ve never done it, but I know YOU CAN! Good luck 🙂

  13. Julie, I’ve just restarted The Artist’s Way, also. So far, I’ve only been doing the Morning Pages, but those alone are enough to get me into the rest of the work for the day. My writing output is greater and those little voices in my head are quieter. Good luck with the program. Third time is a charm, right? 🙂 I’m looking forward to your future updates

  14. I’ve heard of this but being pressed for time as it is and not having any issue with flow on the creative side I’ve felt no need to pursue it now or in the near future. I did tell my mother about it once when she was having trouble feeling inspiration with her oil paintings. But I don’t believe she ever followed through. Good luck Julie! I think reporting to the blog will really help this time through.

  15. Thank you for the mention! 🙂 You’re right that I’m learning just as much from sharing my experiences as I am from the process of Wreck This Journal. Like you, I realized I was carrying around much more fear than I thought. Every time I post a page a little piece of that fear disappears. I’m more open, free, and willing to share than I ever have been before. As an aspiring writer, that’s exactly what I needed!

    I’m so excited to hear you are starting a journey with The Artist’s Way. Its an incredible program that my writer’s group has tapped into more than once for inspiration. If you’re worried about quitting again, assign a day each week where you post about what you’ve done in the program. Just like you have Gratitude Sundays, you can have an Artist Way day. I put Wreck This Journal on Wednesdays so I don’t wander off! 🙂 Good luck and I can’t wait to read about your journey.

  16. I haven’t heard of this, Julie, so am grateful for the introduction as I believe I could benefit enormously from something like this. I think blogging about it should bring support and an element of accountability, which can be helpful. Good luck and I look forward to your Wednesday posts.

    • Well, you’re welcome to join in if you want to try it out! Maybe you should wait until I’m a few weeks in though, in case I’m ready to pull my hair out! LOL

  17. lynnkelleyauthor

    I’ve never heard of it. At first, I thought it was a course, but now I realize it’s a book. Sounds really good, if you can keep plugging away at the morning pages. I’m not a morning person either, so that does make it tough to do it in the morning. Natalie Goldberg calls the “clutter” and “junk” that gets in the way of our creativity ‘Monkey Mind.’ I love that term! I think that blogging about your journey each Wednesday is a great idea and will give you more incentive to stick with it. And we’ll all cheer you on! Woo hoo! GO JULIE! GO JULIE!

    • Thanks Lynn! I definitely need a cheering section. I hope over time it does help clear the clutter out of my mind in order to get more focus on my work. I’m TERRIBLE about mind clutter!

  18. Oh how I can relate.. in my past music field of the arts.. if one could call performing in biker dives and honky tonk’s art..though I did, I was able to continue writing,,,as I had an outlet…people listened.

    Later, when I decided to make a change in my life style etc.. I lost the care free muse, so to speak, as playing music, let alone writing for ones self was one futile attempt after another. I probably wouldn’t have made it to Class Three…
    Bless You
    paul

  19. Hmmm, sounds intriguing. I’ve never heard of this, but I’m curious to read how you progress on your journey. Of course, my first thought was, ‘I don’t have time for something new!’ which is probably why I should try this.

    • I think these things come into our lives at a time when we’re ready to try them. But they most certainly don’t work for everyone all the time – especially if your first thought is you don’t have time. 🙂

  20. I have completed the Artist’s Way course many times in the last dozen years. I find myself doing it over again about every 10 months or so. And I’m not a working artist!

    I am thrilled to find your site and hear about your journey. I have tried to get my working artist friends to do the course with me, but they are, alas, “too busy.”

    Well, never mind them! I know the value of investing in this course. It helps me feel much more balanced, let alone creative. Enjoy the process.

  21. I have had this book for several years, I have never completed it either. I pulled it out in July, I guess maybe hoping I would get it by just looking at it everyday…hmmmm…didn’t work! 🙂 Just last night I cleaned up my desk and put it right in the middle with a notebook next to it, as well as a pen. I have yet to go write. Just came across this post, if you can do it with a family, I can do it as well. So off I go to write. Thanks for sharing and enspiring me to get on it.

    Robin

    • Welcome aboard Robin! I’ve found the morning pages far less painful this time around. I’m not sure why. I’m guessing it’s because I have a greater need to “off” my endless mind chatter.

      If you start, let me know how it goes for you!

      • You got it! I’m starting in the a.m.!
        I’m such a night owl and the creativity doesn’t kick in until late afternoon, I’m hope to get it flowing earlier and declutter my mind as well.

        • Started as I said I would, Now carrying a good feeling of accomplishment around with me today, as well as finishing an illistration b4 12n. and liking it! A good step in the right direction.

          Hope it well for you as well!

  22. Every time I do The Artist’s Way – I make some new discovery or veer off in a completely different direction. I keep all my journals and find when I get stuck again, I read back through them. I think if you want your life to change – do your morning pages – it never fails!

    • i completely agree, beth. i am just beginning week 12, and have already done the course a bajillion times. this course has opened up my thinking and enabled so much in my life.

  23. Wow, I have not heard of the Artist Way…Sounds like I need to look into it 🙂

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