The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

I originally started this book over a year ago when I read about the Morning Pages (MP) from a blog. I I was getting back into stationery, pens, and notebooks. I am surprised I hadn’t really encounteed this earlier. Then again, I have been keeping a journal on and off since since I was 8. I have become even more consistent with my journal over the last couple of years ago after neglecting it recently.

I really took to the morning pages technique. I have been writing in my MP notebooks every day for over a year now. At first, it was a difficult to write 3 pages everyday, but I persevered. Now I write about 1-2 A4 pages a day. I find it really does help me organize my day. There are thoughts which I can exhume out of my brain. I do not know if it’s made me significantly more creative. I can’t pinpoint all the benefits but I like it a lot. When we can travel again, I’ll probably have to let it lapse. However, this past year, I’ve had time to really develop the routine of the Morning Pages which I think I will continue for many more years.

Back to the actual book, I had to put it on pause during the first lockdown as my library was closed for a couple of months. It’s also an in demand book from the library. I was finally able to read it recently.

This book has a 12 week course on how to discover your inner artist and to be more authentic to it and yourself. You’re suppose to use the techniques week by week. I did not do anything recommended from the book except the Morning Pages (which I was already doing). To a certain extent, I’ve already been doing the Artist’s dates. In the last few months, I’ve resolved to walk more and most of the time, I walk alone. I often pair this up with errands but these days, I walk just for the sake of it and for exercise. I had a very singular childhood. Doing things for myself for fun or to explore places is something that’s always been part of my life.

Each chapter represents a week in the course and each week has a lesson. I did not mind the spirituality and “woowoo” tone of the book. I do like the self-care and spirituality aspects of finding your inner artist. However, I found it a bit too verbose at and did not really relate to my own journey.

There are lot of interesting prompts in this book for self-discovery. I would actually like to go through them so of them. However, it’s just too long to implement. It’s not a wonder people do the course in a group or with a friend. Twelve weeks is still too long for me though. I would combine weeks I think if I did it with someone else. Realistically, I will probably go through an ebook version of the book and do the exercises myself in a shorter amount of time. I do not necessarily need or want this book the same way other creatives do.

I believe I am creative and in some ways an artist. I just can’t be a full time artist and I do not even want to be. I believe that profiting from or engaging in business with a hobby you love will change your relationship to it. People have told me to sell some of my hand knit items. While my creations are not priceless, the effort and time I spent on them would be too much to sell. Similarly, I love to write. I write in this blog for myself. I write in the journal and MP and it’s a great pleasure in my life. I would love for someone to pay me to write but that is not going to happen. I did not enjoy writing for school because I was forced to do assignments.

Cameron is not impractical in her advice about being an artist. She does not actually say you should become a full time artist or creative. The book advocates that you find your authenticity. In my case, I do not want to write a novel or even play musical instruments. I’m too practical in some ways to ever achieve my childhood dream of playing a Mozart violin concerto. The book does lose me in some aspects because I did not come into it with an artistic goal. I also did not really understand her view about money.

I really appreciated her asking the reader to take time for themselves and to deny naysayers about being artistic, but I sometimes felt the writing left me feeling cold and distant. I think it’s because the author was writing from a place of privilege that not everyone has. I do not actually use that word lightly and I am aware of my own privileges. With my own personal background, I’ve worked hard to get them as well. I do like this book but there were a couple moments where I felt it was too nonchalant about the reality of why some people can’t be creative or do the complete course. I do not blame Cameron for this because she is writing from her own perspective but a lot of the pretext for the week’s exercises felt unnecessary and unrelatable. I understand why most of this book would not work for many people.

I think this a nice read if you want to explore creativity. Not an essential read or course to follow through. The main takeaways are the morning pages and the artist dates. I think one or both of those can help with some creative or personal development.

Read February 17-26, 2021.

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