The Artist's Way - In Progress
posted April 24, 2022 10:10 AM   RSS | iCal | +googleCal

Sun May 22 at 8:00 PM
Hi everyone! This spring, I'm giving Julia Cameron's classic creativity program, The Artist's Way, a proper go. It's a 12-week program designed to reconnect to your inner artist, build your confidence as an artist (whether that's writing, music, visual arts, etc.) and be more productive. I plan to start on Sunday, May 8. Join me for gentle accountability, occasional grousing, and (hopefully not infrequent) revelations about the artistic journey. All are welcome! If you are just now finding this, folks have been starting on different weeks, so feel free to join the conversation in the overlap.
I should caveat this with a note that this particular program doesn't always resonate for everyone. Years ago, a friend had a hugely positive experience with it and jammed the book enthusiastically into my hands, only for me to get partway through Week 3 and abandon it for reasons identical to the ones EmpressCallipygos mentions in this AskMe from a few years back.

Twenty years later, I'm finding myself in a wildly different place personally, professionally, and spiritually. I'm essentially starting over from scratch, so this program feels like a better match for where I am today. We'll see.

The book for the program is The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. It's typically about $5-6 used and maybe $16-20ish new. There's a separate workbook and morning pages journal available but I don't have them and I've heard they're not necessary. Other than that, the program is free.
posted by mochapickle to Online (29 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Oh neat. I think I'm probably squarely in the "this book would bounce off me" camp, but the more general notion of some group accountability and art stuff and small healthy doses of grousing is nice and I'd be up for just hanging out and being a bit of a tourist.
posted by cortex at 10:41 AM on April 25 [4 favorites]

I've started this a few times on my own, but never gotten far. Perhaps if I will have more success with a cohort? I'll tentatively say yes, but no promises!
posted by Gray Duck at 10:51 AM on April 25 [4 favorites]

My living situation is chaotic right now, but yes, I’d like to join. Forgive the noob question: is this going to be virtual, or in person?
posted by Silvery Fish at 6:34 AM on April 28 [3 favorites]

I'm starting week 5 tomorrow on my first trip through. It has been patchy, but generally positive and sometimes super helpful. I feel kinda vulnerable about it? But yes, I will join. It will be good to hear from others and share how it goes.
posted by probably not that Karen Blair at 2:23 PM on April 29 [3 favorites]

Hey, Silvery Fish! The plan is to do this online and asynchronously, so there's no actual meeting or anything. I thought we could work through the program on our own week by week (there's a weekly chapter and exercises/tasks), and maybe folks could just comment here as the mood strikes.

We've done a couple of housecleaning meetups (like this one for January and this one for March/April) where we more or less followed along with a structured program, participated individually to whatever degree the current circumstances allowed, and indulged in wild rebellion whenever the mood struck.

It ended up being really enjoyable as a group. And really, The Artist's Way is a lot like cleaning house, creatively speaking, so I thought I'd try it here, too. See how it goes.

With something like this, I feel like some people are going to really get into it, some people will take the parts they absolutely need (the morning pages habit tends to be especially helpful) and leave the rest, and some people will find that it's absolutely positively not for them. Which in its own way is also a great thing -- after all, one of the best ways to figure out what you truly need is to have a strong reaction to something that's not meeting you where you currently are.

And probably not that Karen Blair, that's awesome! I picked May 8 for myself because that's my second kidneyversary (crosses heart, deep breath) and it seemed like an auspicious date, especially with the late spring weather just now arriving where I live. There's someone in my DMs who is possibly starting the week before, too, so we might have several different starting dates.
posted by mochapickle at 7:47 PM on April 29 [5 favorites]

I picked up my copy of the book yesterday, so I am definitely going to give this a try now.
posted by odd ghost at 7:21 AM on May 1 [3 favorites]

Oh, yay! Welcome!
posted by mochapickle at 8:07 AM on May 1 [1 favorite]

I’m not sure how I would be able to squeeze it into my daily routine now but ready to give it a shot.
posted by SunPower at 4:00 PM on May 1 [3 favorites]

I'm currently reading the intro/overview and really enjoying getting mentally ready for the challenge! I tend to start things and never finish them, so I'm curious to see how I react to the structure. I enjoyed the author explaining how I'm going to feel during the process using stages of grief terminology and I'm actually looking forward to feeling like giving up so that I can work through it and learn from it. I guess I am expecting lots of writing and lots of introspection. I have already decided that doing my card club missives and other penpal stuff will be one of my Artist Dates activities, and I'm coming up with other ideas for that time. I feel as if I'm laying the groundwork and on May 8, I will start my Morning Pages! I have not done daily writing in ages!

Question: Is it 3 back and front pages or 3 sides? I guess it doesn't matter, you just write, but I have not yet seen it mentioned...

This is something I think I need right now and I'm very excited to see what I end up doing and how we support each other in this space!
posted by danabanana at 7:11 PM on May 1 [3 favorites]

My $.02 re: pages is that I am the one choosing this activity for my own benefit so I get to decide. Personally, I am doing three "sides" of a 5x7 journal, so, three fronts, or front, back, next front. Sometimes I have trouble filling them and I do as she says and put, "I don't know what to write" until something else floats up. Sometimes I go over and write more. It is surprising how many times my thoughts come to exactly three pages and I end at the bottom of the third side. Maybe subconscious? YMMV
posted by probably not that Karen Blair at 10:04 AM on May 2 [3 favorites]

Thanks for the input on pages!

I'm so happy that you are a few weeks ahead, probably not the Karen Blair! I am probably going to overthink more things like this and I am encouraged by the work you've already done!
posted by danabanana at 12:52 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]

The book must be arriving today.Going to try my best to squeeze in some "me" time in between the chaotic schedule this month.
posted by SunPower at 6:27 AM on May 3 [2 favorites]

I managed to get through it all maybe a dozen years ago. It might be time to revisit, I guess!
posted by tangerine at 3:56 PM on May 3 [3 favorites]

One more page to get into the game of "being a person who never misses a [creative workout]?" Godsdamnit, I'm in.
posted by k3ninho at 12:39 AM on May 4 [4 favorites]

Hi everyone!

I hope everyone is doing well and looking forward to starting (or continuing) this project!

I have been thinking about what to do for the artist's dates and I found an interesting article about the book with an interview with Cameron in Vogue. Here's an excerpt with some of her suggestions:

"Amid the pandemic, Cameron is asked often what people should do for the date. “Well, you can take a bubble bath,” she says, settling into a long list. “Well, you can light a candle. Well, you can sketch. Well, you can listen to some music you don’t normally listen to. Well, you can listen to a strange podcast. Well, you can paint your fingernails and your toenails with Swarovski crystals. It helps to not be too sophisticated. It helps to do something an 8-year-old would enjoy.”

Well, I hope this is helpful!
posted by danabanana at 1:47 PM on May 5 [4 favorites]

I want in on this!
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 12:43 AM on May 6 [3 favorites]

I read the introduction/tools and was very inspired to give it a try.

I started my 1st morning page today but I don't know what to write after one page. probably not the Karen Blair,you're weeks ahead, just want to know how was it when you started? How is it going now?

danabanana, the suggestions for artist's date are great.
posted by SunPower at 6:24 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]

Yay SunPower! Good for you for starting the morning pages! I hope you have gotten to 3! I am happy you like the project ideas! Here is a list from 2010 of 101 of them from a blogger who appears to have given up after week 3, but it's still a good list with more ideas in the comments.

I know Cameron said to write "I don't know what to write..." when that's the case. I think I am going to write out some of the affirmations from Chapter 1 if I get stuck. They don't all resonate with me, but I'll put them here later when I switch devices (I'm reading on a tablet with the Kindle app... if anyone has an early version and wants the intro to the 25th anniversary edition, let me know and I will send it to you!)
posted by danabanana at 9:15 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]

So here is a chunk of affirmations from the book, before the List of Twenty:

"“I deserve love.” “I deserve fair pay.” “I deserve a rewarding creative life.” “I am a brilliant and successful artist.” “I have rich creative talents.” “I am competent and confident in my creative work.”"

I wrote them out 3 times each and it felt weird at first and by the end, it didn't!
posted by danabanana at 9:39 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]

The List of Twenty Affirmations

1 I am a channel for God’s creativity, and my work comes to good.

2 My dreams come from God and God has the power to accomplish them.

3 As I create and listen, I will be led.

4 Creativity is the creator’s will for me.

5 My creativity heals myself and others.

6 I am allowed to nurture my artist.

7 Through the use of a few simple tools, my creativity will flourish.

8 Through the use of my creativity, I serve God.

9 My creativity always leads me to truth and love.

10 My creativity leads me to forgiveness and self-forgiveness.

11 There is a divine plan of goodness for me.

12 There is a divine plan of goodness for my work.

13 As I listen to the creator within, I am led.

14 As I listen to my creativity I am led to my creator.

15 I am willing to create.

16 I am willing to learn to let myself create.

17 I am willing to let God create through me.

18 I am willing to be of service through my creativity.

19 I am willing to experience my creative energy.

20 I am willing to use my creative talents.
posted by danabanana at 9:45 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]

Responding to SunPower and anyone else interested in how I do the morning pages, I often have some issue bothering me from daily life, so I might write out how my boss/mother/husband etc is irritating me and try to sort out responsibility for that, putting my co-dependency 12-step practice on the page. If I'm feeling mellow, I've even resorted to writing a sort of gratitude journal style entry, listing things I like or that I feel lucky to have, for example, I hear a robin singing, the sun is out today, what a blessing to be an adult and be able to choose hot cocoa every morning, indoor plumbing, hot and cold running water, etc. you get it. Sometimes I have a song going around in my head so I'll write the lyrics down. Sometimes I write a letter to my Loving Creator, telling them my hopes and fears, including maybe that I'm afraid I'm not really an artist and I'm fooling myself with this book. Basically anything and everything that's running through my head. Even a to-do list or a grocery list!! Just get it out of my head and onto the page. In a later chapter Cameron describes it as "resting on the page."

I think just as with artist dates, the purpose is to benefit you and help you, not give you another burden to carry. We all have enough of those. This is supposed to be nurturing and comforting. The only hard work I see here - and I don't want to minimize it; it's hard - is the work of addressing the emotions we don't want to deal with. Because that stuff we don't want to deal with is what's blocking our creativity.
posted by probably not that Karen Blair at 10:20 AM on May 6 [4 favorites]

Week 1, Day 2: Today was the first day of morning pages and I really enjoyed that. I found it really refreshing. Even after I dropped the program years ago, I'd find myself returning to the habit of morning pages and it often meant that my day would feel more clear. I also completed the reading for the week that I'd started last night and I think I'll reread it before the week is out.

I bristle a bit at some of the choices Cameron makes before I remind myself that they're entirely personal ones, and it doesn't matter if mine don't match hers. I don't have a petulant wounded inner child railing against some nun who said she couldn't spell. I could always spell. And I often had more than my share of support, particularly early on, but I never had the confidence to bring art to any meaningful place beyond what I needed to get by for work or for my own passing amusement.

So my opposition isn't a bully or an authority figure sending a young haunted version of myself into blistering, hot tears as Cameron imagines -- instead everything is quiet, so quiet, and there's just this big, tall door between my safe little creative sandbox and the rest of the world, and the door is silent and unyielding and whenever I ask the door to open, the answer is always no. No, you're fine where you are. It's safe here. You have everything you need. Getting past this door is an awful lot of work and you'll never catch up and you're so tired already. And from there, if I knock on the door again, there's this quiet persistent nihilistic whisper from behind me that reminds me that it's only a matter of time until the Earth's orbit collides with the Sun and what's the point of bothering with any of it. So that's my task for these next three months: figuring out how to get around, under, over, or through that big unyielding door.

Haven't settled on an artist's date yet, but I've circled half the tasks to do. I think I might pull out the watercolors to do the affirmations. It's been a while since I brought them out.

Has anyone else started this week?
posted by mochapickle at 6:52 PM on May 9 [3 favorites]

I have started - wrote my three pages yesterday, and then dug out my copy of the book. I've done the full twelve-week process a couple times in the past, and maintained a journaling practice for longer... but I'm out of practice at the moment, and this sounded like a good kick-start. (Hopefully!) I'm starting to feel like things are busy all the time again, so maybe carving out time for this will be useful?
posted by mersen at 6:41 AM on May 10 [3 favorites]

I'm in! Bought the e-book, read the intro, started morning pages (got up half an hour early), brainstorming artist date ideas :) So far, the spiritual angle really works for me. Looking forward to creating a creative habit again!
posted by rawrberry at 8:56 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]

Just received my copy and expect to start pages tomorrow am.
posted by Phyllis keeps a tight rein at 2:11 PM on May 12 [3 favorites]

Week 6, Day 6: Seconding you in principle, mochapickle. While Week 1 was really great for me, Weeks 5 and 6 haven't resonated nearly as strongly. I think you're spot on when you say it's a personal experience and we don't have to be exactly like Julia Cameron. I will finish the 12 weeks in order and I'm very interested to see what happens. At the same time, I'm really starting to think of the book more like a tool box with something for everyone. I see myself coming back to spend more time on weeks 1-3, and probably not revisiting week 6 for years, if ever.

To clarify, particularly with Week 6, the tasks are mostly stuff I already do. My house is littered with cool rocks and dried leaves and flowers, and even bones I collect on my daily walks. I cook and bake and enjoy it, I'm pretty comfortable with my God concept, etc. so not much new insight or self-discovery for the week. I'm expecting future weeks to be more engaging. We'll see. Even if they're not, I've already gotten so much out of the book. It's been a good experience.

I'm doing morning pages regularly and benefitting. This week I splurged on a beautiful journal. A gift for my inner artist :-)

I've been a little lazy about my artist dates recently. Instead of planning something new or different, I sit down with my inks for a couple hours and then say, there, that was my date; maybe my artist and I are just a quiet couple. So I want to put in the effort to see and do other things.

I'm also wondering what the rest of your are considering "art" or "creative." I'm not a professional or aspiring to be professional, and I realize for me "art" only means the visual arts of drawing or painting. But surely there are lots of creative things in my life; right? Listening to music? Gardening? Reaching out to old friends? What do you all think? If I just want more beauty, more living? Aren't I limiting myself by insisting that only drawing counts as artistic expression for me? That's an attitude that could use some work; right?

Anyway, just leaving this as feedback and a check-in for anyone else following along. Go, Everybody! You're all beautiful!
posted by probably not that Karen Blair at 2:32 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]

WEEK 1, day 6:
I was able to write morning pages most of the days.Yesterday I couldn’t find time and energy to write.But glad I was able to be back on track today. The affirmations are the most important for the inner critic that pulls me down.I’ve written some of them in my notebook so I could go back and read them every morning.

……..”You can do it better if ONLY you would let yourself do it!” …………..

These words are so helpful on days when I am at my lowest point physically and mentally.HAVE few ideas for my Artist date🙂Let’s see if I can do it.

You guys are awesome!!
posted by SunPower at 8:01 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]

Week 1, Day 7 Check-in: Hi everyone! I hope everyone is doing well and learning much about themselves! I know I am! Like others, I'm taking what resonates and leaving the rest behind. I love highlighting my copy - tan for JC structure and explanations, blue for stuff I want to reread and think about, and magenta for the parts I really like. I'm getting ready to read the next chapter tonight or tomorrow. But here's how my first week went...

I did 7/7 morning pages and I feel as if they are very helpful in clearing my mind for the day. I also do some of the exercises in this space. I use different colors for different types of thoughts. I pick 3 pens per day; this is helping me clear out some of my pens that I don't like. It's also helping me with my penmanship, as I'm trying to make my handwriting more legible as well as gripping the pen less tightly and pressing more lightly on the paper. My notebook now has very colorful curly pages!

I did a two-part artist's date and I will put the link at the bottom of this comment. I had a great time doing both parts and now I want to do more!

I did several but not all of the tasks. Time Travel remains a challenge and imagining different lives was fun! I love so many of the affirmations and will come back to them in the future.

Other issues are that my husband is incredibly supportive of this process and that makes me feel more independent and also much closer to him. Also, I am feeling much less anxious, and I'm actually in the process of reducing my anti-anxiety meds (I was taking 6mg of klonopin before I started, and I have weaned myself down to 3mg. I have not been experiencing withdrawal effects so that's great!) Lastly, I'm enjoying this space and reading how others are experiencing the process! I know I get very excited at the start of something, so I want to keep taking it slowly and not make this tedious.

So we went to town (~10 miles away and 1500 ft down) to take the dog to the groomer and we did some exploring instead of just coming home and waiting. I made a blog post about it and I am sharing it now! I hope you enjoy it! I'm still figuring stuff out but I hope to do a blog post every week as part of my artist's date. We shall see!
posted by danabanana at 11:19 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]

I just have to get this out about chapter 2: "crazymaking" appears 5 times and "crazymakers" shows up 68 times. This makes me crazy, as a literal crazy person. Like, I keep reading and thinking about the words and getting angry and a loop is forming in my head and I'm having to talk myself down.

I'm skipping this section entirely and reminding myself that her words are hers and they don't have to be mine.

While I'm on the topic, she listed fears and obstacles that are not based in reality in the last chapter and one was "I will go crazy" and honestly, it is not unreasonable for me to actually "go crazy" (have a manic attack) while exploring and writing about all the aspects of my life that may be triggering or even just intense. I really want to take this slowly and not get too excited so I minimize my chances of becoming psychotic by not doing all the things at once and by tempering my enthusiasm even though I am so very excited about this project.

So anyhow, that's me and my issue I wanted to share.
posted by danabanana at 3:09 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]

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