The Artists Way

Some time ago an online friend posted about being stuck creatively and that they were thinking about working through a book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and was wondering if anyone would be interested in joining them. I thought it sounded lovely. A private Facebook group was creating and my book was delivered, my excitement peaked. Over the past few months, I have mentioned it a few times that my creativity has been lacking. I went from posting three times a week, to two. One of those posts being a cop out, as it is my daily photo project, which means I only have to think up something once a week to write about. Not having three posts has really bothered me and in generally I have felt stuck. The idea of working through a book with a bunch of other like minded people sounded appealing. I did not wait for the group to get started before starting. The day the book arrived, I headed to target and picked up supplies mentioned in the first few pages. Mainly a notebook. The book is broken down into 12 weeks, each chapter covering a week with tasks to help you work things through.

Week 1: Recovering a Sense of Safety

This week initiates your creative recovery. You may feel both giddy and defiant, hopefully and skeptical. The readings, tasks, and exercises aim at allowing you to establish a sense of safety, which will enable you to explore your creativity with less fear.

There are two pivotal tools in creative recovery: the morning pages and the artist date. As well as the weekly tasks.

Morning Pages

Three pages of writing first thing in every morning. These pages are not to be shared with anyone and you are not suppose to read through what you have previously written until much later in the weeks. I thought these would be hard. And they are hard. I struggle with them everyday, however I also find my mind a lot quieter after the fact. I doubt the main purpose is how I’ve ended up using them, but going back to pen and paper has been very rewarding. No one is going to read them this time and I don’t have to censor myself like I do on the blog. The challenge of not going back and rereading what I’ve written means that old doubts don’t always come back because the writing has worked through the issue. There are absolutely core issues that I again and again have to face but the small, less significant ones just bleed away.

For week one I managed to do all seven days and a full three pages each day. I truly didn’t think I would be able to accomplish this, especially on the weekends. However when Saturday rolled around I was craving the time writing and so I took it.

The Artist Date

Take yourself out and nurture your creativity. I struggled with this one, because I am alone a lot, 75% of the things I do, are alone. I love my alone time, it is precious and not something I will be giving up. This task is something you are suppose to do alone. However the idea of taking myself on a date when I can do that whenever I want already didn’t really appeal to me.

My original plan came about with an article about the 9 best places to get ice cream in Madison. As a lover of ice cream, I figured I could take 9 weeks and explore these places as my artists date. I chose Tuesdays as the day to go, and put it in my calendar. The first Tuesday came along and I was already stressing about having to leave the house to do something so random and weird, when I got a text from a friend asking if I wanted to do lunch. I jump at this and invited her along. I don’t often get to invite people to my activities, but I figured not only would this force me to get out of the house to go, the idea of the artists date was to challenge my creativity and this was definitely that. At least for me. Of course circumstances were not perfect, I could not find parking and got kicked out of the three spots I tried to park in due to the construction in the area and so we never ended up at the first ice cream place. But we did end up spending three hours in a taco joint and then getting cold drinks to walk around the area. It was lovely and honestly perfect for my brain and mental health.

However I did do other things that might fall under the artists date category. I took a specialized class, this is also with other people, though not people I know well. It was tippy lyra and it’s not a class that comes around often, so I jumped at the opportunity to give it another go. I also took a trip to a bookstore, gave them my old books and bought many new and lovely books. The books bought were not fantasy, instead they are all books that will challenge my world view and I am enjoying diving into them so much.

As far as Artists Dates go, I think I did pretty well exploring the world and nurturing my creativity.

Weekly Tasks

There are ten tasks for week 1. It wasn’t until doing this wrap up that I realized I didn’t do it fully right, but that’s okay. I’m also not going to share the details of all ten tasks, just some of my thoughts and notes on them.

Morning Pages with daily Blurts (blurts being the negative spiraling thoughts), and where/who it comes from and Affirmations (turning those blurts around).

Blurts (won’t be sharing exactly who the blurts are coming from, no need to name names. I know who they are)

  • (name of a certain person)* is the writer, the creative one.

  • I can’t spell or string together an intelligent sentence.

  • It’s too late.

  • You’re not smart enough.

  • You never finish anything.

  • You’re life is perfect, why do you need more from it?

  • You’re life is perfect, why do you think you deserve more than what you already have?

  • Why aren’t you working?

  • Why can’t you be normal?

Affirmations (also task #9)

  • I am just as creative as others.

  • Through the use of a few tools, I can improve my spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

  • People don’t think there’s life after 30 but 30 is so much better than your 20’s. It’s good and necessary to share that perspective.

  • My smarts are just as valid as others, just in a different way.

  • I have and do see things through.

  • I am doing what makes me happy and that looks different from people’s expectations and that’s okay.

  • Normal is relative and so is perfection.

  • I deserve all that I want and work towards.

I didn’t do this daily. However I have many doubts that are written in the morning pages not shared here, because these are the main ones that consistently run through my head and that I am actively working on. The lies we tell ourselves are interesting and once written down are hard to see the logical behind. Majority of the blurts are what I think people think about me, but those things have rarely if ever been said to me. Being able to turn that language around is possible, just going to take a lot of work.

And lastly Imagined Lives. If you had five other lives to lead, what would you do in each of them?

This is one of the tasks that I found silly and then I remembered that the majority of people aren’t in my place. I have the privilege of being fully supported to not work and try whatever pleases me. So I have had a chance to explore avenues such as becoming a yoga teacher, being a performer, becoming a potter, a chef, a photographer, a gardener, a writer, a lawyer, a social worker, an activist. I’ve discovered things I love and things I hate. I am so thankful for the opportunity I have been given and so when I say that I feel guilty for being stuck and unable to pursue the things I truly want, please know that I am aware of how silly that seems. That is though, the purpose of the book, getting you past the stuck and into the creative thing you’ve been holding yourself back from.

So dear reader, if you’ve made it this far thank you. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have you worked through the Artists Way before? What do you think of the blurts, affirmations, morning pages, or the artists date?

Why should we all use our creative power...? Because there is nothing that makes people so generous, joyful, lively, bold and compassionate, so indifferent to fighting and the accumulation of objects and money.
— Brenda Ueland

I'm a lifestyle blogger, covering deep subjects including body images, battles with food, and overcoming how I was raised. I try to be as authentic as possible and I don’t sugar coat how I see things.