12 November 2010

The Artist's Way

In September, I was instructed by one of my professors to choose and read one of several books. I first picked up one that was small and aged, but I soon put it down and instead picked one that said something about creativity and spirituality on the cover, two subjects that always hook me. Amazingly, it happened to be a book I knew well, though I'd never actually read it - after four pages I realized with a quite start that this book was The Artist's Way, written by Julia Cameron, the creator of morning pages. I had been wanting to read it for quite some time.

I first came across the idea of morning pages much earlier in the year. Morning pages are the daily practice of writing three pages by hand; the catch is that, once one begins, one is not allowed to stop the pen until the three pages are complete. I tried them for a month or two, then life distracted me and I moved on to new projects. I still mean to do them, yet, as so often happens, forget in the fast-paced flow of the day.

This book inspired me so much that I purchased it for myself before I had even finished reading it. Though it was written as a structured, twelve week long course on nurturing your inner artist, it is in fact quite readable and easily done on one's own or in an informal group. The pages are chalk full of exercises, ideas, meditations, insights, quotes, and so, so much more. It is perfectly appropriate both for those who have never felt comfortable with calling themselves an artist and have never laid brush to a page or put a story on a page, and those who are familiar with or long time participants of the art world.

I first read the book all the way through, skipping the exercises. I will go back through my own copy and work my way through its pages with a pencil in hand. The Artist's Way is a resource you will go to again and again when the inner critic starts to whisper, friends or family doubt your abilities, you struggle with justifying your passion, or need a dose of inspiration.

It must be mentioned that Julia uses the words like "God" and "spirituality" quite often during the book. This is what she says in the introduction about her use of these words:
"When the word God is used in these pages, you may substitute the thought good orderly direction or flow. What we are talking about is a creative energy. God is useful shorthand for many of us, but so is Goddess, Mind, Universe, Source, and Higher Power .... The point is not what you name it. The point is that you try using it."
If you can keep an open mind, you are sure to enjoy what insight she has to offer.

If you'd like to find out more about this book, you can check it out on Amazon - at the moment it's on sale for $10! You can also visit Julia Cameron's website here.


Brandi said...

Ingrid, this book sounds fantastic. I'll definitely put it on my reading list. I'm currently working on a book called A Life Worth Breathing, which a friend sent to me. It's hard to find time to do the exercises in it, but it's good to read something like it.

Dyche Designs said...

Sounds really neat . . . I love it when a book really resonates with me.

Anonymous said...

I worked through this book about 4 years ago and really enjoyed it. I also worked through Julia's "The right to write" a few months ago and it really helped me to identify and work on some of my psychological boundaries and fears when it comes to living a creative live. I'm now eagerly awaiting another book, dealing with the topic of creative immersion. It's: "Standing at water's edge" by Anne Paris if you want to check it out too.

(Cape Town, South Africa)

Spooky said...

I discovered that book recently, and I really want it now that I've seen your post!


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