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The Artist's Way

As I’ve mentioned before, both Alison Kent and Charlene Teglia are revisiting the classic The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, and exploring their progress on their blogs.   Inspired by their example, I’ve taken up the book myself and started working through the weekly chapters for the first time in mumbledy-mumble years.

Check out the Artist’s Way site for an overview of the process — basically, you read a chapter a week of the book, work through some exercises, and use the basic tools of the morning pages and the artist’s date to get in touch with your creative currents.  Here’s a snip that will give you an idea of the two major components in the book:

Morning Pages

Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages– they are not high art. They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only.

The Artist Date

The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. The Artist Date need not be overtly “artistic”– think mischief more than mastery.

Some quick observations from this time on the trail so far:

1.  Morning Pages:  I used to resent the hell out of these pages as “a waste of time.”  That sense of scarcity, of not having enough time has been a long-term issue with me, both when I had a day job to contend with, and also having a houseful of kids.  Now, I luxuriate in these pages, revel in writing without an agenda.  I love writing longhand, and the words just flow, without my infernal scheming about how to sell them.  Delicious.

2.  Artist’s Date:  Again, love having the permission to do these.  I have very simple, kinda dumb, artist dates.  I go to Target and buy scented candles.  I go to a local cafe and stare at the wall while drinking coffee.  I go to the beach and watch sailboats coming into the harbor.  And yet lately, after these seemingly aimless little junkets I come away with profound insights into my process, the things that obsess me, and my unspoken fears.

3.  Exercises.  I do some of them, less than the last time I came through the book.  Many of them explore issues that, frankly, I have explored to death in my own life.  But the ones that are designed to trick you into having fun are tremendously useful to me — I’ve been such a grim little soldier lately that it’s good to lighten me up a little!

Best of all, this time around the process has helped uncover what motivates me as a writer and a person.  What matters to me, where my home field advantage is, what comes easily to me and gives me joy.  Reading this book again has reminded me that if you tap into your passion, discipline no longer is that much of an issue. 

Basically, The Artist’s Way is designed to help you get out of the way of your creative drive.  I’ve eased back into my wrting groove, without floggings or even bribes — I enjoy the process itself.  And that’s just a pure pleasure :)


3 comments

  1. Charlene Teglia says:

    Yay for you! And I hear you on the grim soldier thing. I have noticed myself laughing more, playing more since we started this. If you want to work on your art, you really do have to work on your life! That Chekov, smart guy.

    • admin says:

      Thanks Charli! I love that Chekov quote…it’s really true. I’m still a little too grim, but at least I’m catching myself at it now and getting to the point where I can just laugh about it. I still need to chill out, but that’s a long term project for sure :)

  2. Donna Coe_Vellelman says:

    Interesting. I’m going to check it out. Thanks Michele.

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