The first time I did The Artist’s Way was over 10 years ago. For those of you who haven’t come across this fantastic book by Julia Cameron, it’s a twelve week course in “Discovering and Recovering your Creative Self”. The blurb on the back says: “The Artist’s Way helps demystify the creative process by making it part of your daily life. It tackles your self-doubts, self-criticism and worries about time, money and the support to pursue your creative dream”.
I must admit that the first time I did the course I didn’t fully complete all the actions and activities. But I did take the practice of “Morning Pages” with me throughout the following years. I’ve always kept a journal on and off from the age of 11 using it primarily in times of emotional distress. As you can imagine this filled up a lot of pages as a teenager, together with fabulous short stories about “Martian Kemp” (I had problems spelling the name Martin). And yes, that was Martin Kemp from Spandau Ballet.
“My name is Martian. Martian Kemp.” Is a line which lives on in the memory of my older sister and I, to the tune of much hilarity (her) and embarrassment (me).
There are two major tools to the course: morning pages and artist’s dates. I’m pretty crap at artist’s dates but morning pages have been my saving grace for strength and sanity this year throughout two redundancies and associated stress. Morning pages are the practice of writing three pages of long hand in your journal every morning on waking. It can be any old rubbish you want, from moaning about your coming day, how tired you feel, to your hopes and dreams for the future. Just write it all down. Keep your hand moving on the page until you fill those babies up. I like to finish mine off with a few affirmations, a classic of mine being “Money flows to me”. My bank balance seems a lot healthier now I’ve corrected it from “Money flows through me”. Little things like that matter when the universe is listening. 😉
Yes, there is an element of spirituality to the course but it’s nothing too woo-woo and you can choose to substitute Cameron’s wording (god) for something that works for you e.g. creator, goddess, Gaia, or my personal favourite “universe”.
The course is all about getting back into your creative flow and making it part of your daily life. It works for all kinds of creatives not just writers but musicians, dancers, crafters, designers – and indeed anyone who wants to bring a bit of creative play back into their lives.
The other weekend at my Permaculture Design Course I had three different conversations about The Artist’s Way with people who were interested in doing it, or had heard about it but weren’t sure. I say GO FOR IT! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
The most recent time I did the course was at the beginning of this year. Some of the things that I was longing for then but seemed massively out of my reach have manifested themselves now nine months later. The most immediate of which is that I now truly work for myself as a freelance writing consultant and designer. (Yay!)
I’ve also kept my morning pages up every single day this year. Apart from one day. One random day in July when I forgot for absolutely no good reason. It niggles me. Can you tell? Still, it is often the one random imperfection in a system that makes the perfection of it. Plus I can just start again from that date in July and go every day for a year from then.
When I was running The Create Place (a community craft studio in Bethnal Green) earlier this year I had some discussions about holding some Artist’s Way groups. This isn’t going to be something that I’m going to have the time to do in the near future however I wanted to let people know about a meetup group I have found who are doing this.
Starting on 20 September, they will be meeting weekly at the Cafe in the Crypt at St. Martin’s In the Field near Trafalgar Square. You can find out all the details >here<.
Thinking of doing NaNoWriMo this year? Just want to get back in touch with your creative self, yo? This book is a great little resource, whether you choose to work in a group or go it lone wolf style. September is a good time of year to start something like this as you can surf the waves of those back to school vibes.
And remember baby, YOU ARE GOLD!