Tuesday, 3 September 2013


A year ago I started to work through ‘The Artist’s Way’, a book written by Julia Cameron.  I’ve had my copy for many years. It is dog eared, written in, highlighted and much read.  But I had never worked through the chapters in the way Julia invited:  One chapter each week.  With tasks to complete.  'Morning pages’, otherwise known as daily journaling.  And 'Artist Dates'.

I have used Julia's ideas to write. I did it regularly for a while.  But over time the routine got lost and I stopped writing and forgot about it.  Except on a couple of occasions when it felt helpful to write. Then I’d close my journal and forget about it again until the next time.

I did not think about working through the Artist’s Way book, because my life did not allow the time it needed.  But that changed when I was invited to join a small online group.   Instead of a chapter a week we would do a chapter a month.  THIS was manageable.  The idea excited me.  And last July I began.

What followed was far from what I expected.  Julia claims that it is important to work through creative blocks and allow ourselves the freedom to explore these.  She also encourages you to look for synchronicity – and yes, you can be cynical and put experience down to ‘luck’ or ‘coincidence’ but I choose to be open minded.  I decided to embrace this time working through the book, and to put my doubts aside and to go with the flow.  And I was blown away by some of my experiences. 

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 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 knew it was the right time for me to work through this book and to commit to this.   At the end, it doesn’t matter the reason or how we get there.  I trust my intuition and if some prefer to believe that this is a higher influence, call it God or any other name, that’s fine.  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”.

And so I embraced my year of working through the book.  I gave time and attention, and my experience has been powerful, amazing, curious, and hugely uplifting.  I have grown and gained in so many different ways, I can feel more than describe it.   And though my life is crazy at times, with balls all in the air at the same time, and a work life balance to try and manage, I knew I would miss the routine of The Artist’s Way.  And I was sad when I started the final chapter, knowing this was the end.

Yes… I could continue the Artist’s Dates and the daily journaling, but there was so, so much more.  And just as I was preparing myself for the end Julia wrote her final task:

“Reread this book.  Share it with a friend.  Remember that the miracle is one artist sharing with another….” 

And so that’s exactly what I plan to do! 
I feel just as excited and inspired as I did a year ago, when I first started this journey.  I don’t know where it will take me a second time round.  Some of the tasks might not be so relevant, or I might see them from a different perspective this time.  This is a continued time for discovery.  And if you are interested in joining me the following information might be helpful:

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 also available
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 on work days, 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 plan to continue.

4.       Artist’s Date. Now this was something that greatly excited me!  The idea of writing an allocated time each week in my diary, just for me to be playful or to try something new!  Julia suggests a block of time, and again for this work for me it needed to be flexible.

I work shifts.

I have commitments and busy schedule.

I have excuses and reasons.

I am no different to anyone else. 

But 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 was meant to be fun and rewarding, not punishment. That said, I did take the course seriously.  I tried hard to maintain focus and the rewards 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 send a monthly newsletter by email. 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. If you create – you are invited. 

9.       So!  Are you interested in signing up and getting started?! 

10.   This free course will run 1st October 2013 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 October.  To benefit from the group it is best to sign up at the beginning so that you have time to work through each chapter.  Members will be able to join after this date with understanding that they may need to work through any missed chapters for the course to be personally beneficial.

12.   To sign up – email me with your full name saying that you would like to take part in The Artist’s Way course:  sandie17@talktalk.net

If you want to join the closed Facebook Page (and I hope you will, as 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. 

And if you have any questions please email or leave a comment.   Thank you!
And finally, if you have read Julia Cameron’s book or worked through the chapters I would be interested to hear your thoughts and experience.  I wish my prejudice or barrier had not been around when I first bought my copy some years ago, but then again, perhaps that was not the right time for me to work through the chapters.  After all, there is a time and place for all things.  And at least I can look forward to starting over again.

                           “A painting is never finished – it simply stops in interesting places”

Paul Gardner
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