Several years ago I started to work through ‘The Artist’s Way’ a book written by Julia Cameron about how to work through difficulties so that you can be more creative. I’d had my copy for many years. It was dog eared, written in, highlighted, and much read. But I never worked through the chapters in the way Julia invited: one chapter each week, with tasks to complete, 'Morning pages’ and 'Artist Dates'.
There were several reasons for this. Firstly, this is a spiritual journey and the book refers throughout to God and The Great Creator. And if I am honest, this is where I found my initial barrier. But I had seen what the book offered and liked the idea of working though. So I decided that if I remained open minded and held onto my own sense of wonder and curiosity at things unexplained, and if I allowed myself to interpret Julia’s writing in a way that sat comfortable with me, then I might achieve this. Because let's face it, in the end it doesn’t matter the reason or how we get there. And in this regard Julia says:
“Because the Artist’s Way is in essence a spiritual path, initiated and practiced through creativity, this book uses the word God….. to succeed in this course no god concept is necessary. In fact many of our commonly held god concepts get in the way. Do not allow semantics to become one more block……. What we are talking about is creative energy……. The point is not what you name it. The point is that you try using it. For many of us thinking of it as a form of spiritual electricity has been a useful jumping-off place”.
I found great value in writing morning pages but my routine would sometimes slip or get forgotten. I needed to be accountable so that I would do this regularly. And I needed a way to work through the book that was manageable and realistic. One chapter a week did not work for me. My life did not allow the time and commitment this needed.
So in 2013 I started an online group. Instead of a chapter a week we worked through a chapter a month. This was manageable, and it
worked. We had a closed Facebook page where we could share ideas and experience and I embraced my year of working through the book. I gave it time and attention and my experience was powerful, amazing, curious, and hugely uplifting. I grew and gained in so many different ways. And though life is crazy at times, with balls all in the air at the same time, I knew I would miss the routine of The Artist’s Way when I came to the last chapter. And just as I was preparing myself Julia wrote her final task:
“Reread this book. Share it with a friend. Remember that the miracle is one artist sharing with another….”
We came to a pause at chapter 10 and then time moved on.... and I can feel the difference. The benefits far outweigh the time and effort it takes to work through the book. I miss what it gave me.
So it is time to start again. And what better time, because today is a new moon. This symbolises a time to rest before the next cycle begins, a time to set intentions for things you would like to make manifest or create. And rather than pick up where we left off, we will start afresh, for as Paul Gardner rightly says:
“A painting is never finished – it simply stops in interesting places”
I feel just as excited and inspired as I did when I first started this journey. I don’t know where it will take me this time round; some of the tasks might not be so relevant, or I might see them from a different perspective because I am not in the same place as I was then. This will be revealed and is all part of the discovery.
Julia often talks about synchronicity, and just when I was thinking seriously about restarting the course several people, who I have never met, contacted me around the same time. They had seen my original blog post and wanted to know if they could join in. It felt like a nudge saying 'it's time to start'.
I propose to start afresh, with a new closed Facebook page. Naturally those who were in the previous group are welcome to join in, and some have already expressed interest. And if you are interested, this is how it will work:
1. You need a copy of Julia Cameron’s book ‘The Artist’s Way’ A Course in Discovering and Recovering your Creative Self. You will also need 2 basic note books for writing in. You do not need the workbook that is available, unless you want it of course.
2. At the end of each chapter there are a list of 10 tasks. I found these interesting, sometimes fun, sometimes thought provoking. Like all things, you have choice in what or how much you do.3. Morning pages. Julia views these as essential. Put simply, these are a stream of thoughts written daily. She recommends writing 3 pages in long hand first thing each morning. I had to come up with a way that worked for me. Writing first thing in the morning was not possible when I was working early morning shifts so I got into the routine of writing whenever I could. Some days on waking, other days before going to bed, sometimes during the day. To me the process and routine of writing was more important than the time. I did write long hand and I found the experience of daily writing powerful and something I continue.
4. Artist’s Date. Now this was something that greatly excites me! The idea of writing an allocated time each week in my diary, just for me to be playful or to try something new! Again, for this to work for me it needs to be flexible.
I have commitments and busy schedule.
I have excuses and reasons.
I am no different to anyone else.
I started out by listing things I could do, places I could go. And some weeks I achieved this. Like the time I went for a walk along the river with my camera, or visited a new tea room. My biggest adventure was a 3 day road trip on my own. Other times a play date with a friend ticked the box. Sometimes I forgot to write anything down or plan this special time. In hindsight I might have remembered something that qualified as an artist date, but unless it was planned it never had the same impact. Lesson learned.
5. I never beat myself up if I missed a morning page or Artist Date. The course is meant to be enlightening, not punishment. That said, I take the course seriously. I try hard to maintain focus and the rewards have outweighed any effort involved.
6. Facebook. I plan to set up a closed group and to use this forum as somewhere we can share our individual journeys and thoughts. There is strength and support in people working together.
7. As part of the closed group I will write a monthly newsletter. This will introduce each chapter as we work through them and I hope this will make the course more personal and interactive.
8. The Artist’s Way is a creative course for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you write, sew, paint, draw, take photos or paper craft. We are all creative in our own way.
9. So! Are you interested in signing up and getting started?!
10. This free course will run 1stSeptember 2016 for 12 months. I'd love you to join me in this!
11. I will be preparing the first newsletter and sending this out on 1st September. To benefit from the group it is best to sign up at the beginning so that you have time to work through each chapter. Some of the exercises might trigger unwanted or uncomfortable thoughts or feelings. This group is about helping each other to work through these difficult moments and to offer kindness and support.
12. To sign up – email me with your full name saying that you would like to take part in The Artist’s Way course. To join the closed Facebook Page (sharing with others and being part of a group is what helped me to maintain focus and gain more from the experience) then also send me your Facebook contact details so that I can add you.
If you have any questions please email or leave a comment. Here's to new beginnings!