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

Sun August 14 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 (78 comments total) 5 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 [6 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 [5 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 [3 favorites]


Oh, dana, that’s unfortunate! I remember now not liking that, either, and substituting my own words, too, to better reflect my own experience. I’m glad you have a strategy to take care of yourself and that you still plan to keep going with the project.

btw I read your blog post and enjoyed it :-)
posted by probably not that Karen Blair at 5:23 AM on May 17 [3 favorites]


Thanks so much for your kind words and support, Karen! It means so much to me! I'm encouraged to see that it wasn't just my own hangup, that you had noticed as well. It's strange to see this language in the 25th anniversary edition; I don't think much revision was made to the content of the text to better suit more modern parlance.

Thanks for checking out my TAW blog!
posted by danabanana at 5:54 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]


It’s not just you! I felt the same way danabanana . Reading through that section brought back old traumatic memories with some crazy people in my life.I had to stop reading the book and writing morning pages for 2 days .Yesterday we had a beautiful day(75Deg)here.When I went for a walk listening to podcast,looking at the beautiful wild flowers ,enjoying the gentle breeze helped me analyze how I got through those people and how I got stronger through the years. Today,I was able to start my reading/writing again.
I really liked your last week artist date of starting the blog and it’s wonderful! Looking forward to seeing your next blog post.
posted by SunPower at 9:31 AM on May 18 [3 favorites]


Wow, SunPower, thanks for sharing your experience! It sounds like you took good measures to get back on track!

Thanks for checking out the blog and for your kind words!

I'm so happy you're here!
posted by danabanana at 1:01 PM on May 18 [2 favorites]


Yes, danabanana, your heads up was super helpful.
I’m doing horribly on the morning pages. Partly bcs first thing in the am or waking up earlier is not possible. Part of it is bcs I already have some conscious writing practices that are working well for me. I have been thinking about how they differ from morning pages.

I keep an open box on my desk where I toss articles about interesting artists as I come across them. For my artists date I looked at some. It’s so interesting to read artists talking about their (no longer) current work.

Thanks for doing this with me.
posted by Phyllis keeps a tight rein at 6:19 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


Phyllis keeps a tight rein: I'm glad that my rant was helpful! I, too, am using some different writing prompts from other sources. I think the only important thing is just to write daily.

Your artist date sounds interesting! So many different artistic ideas for inspiration!

I'm so happy you are here!
posted by danabanana at 4:27 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts and experiences!

I'm on week 1, day 11 - haha. Turns out I'm more of a "week + whatever time I need to feel I completed the chapter" person. Maybe that will change next week, maybe not. I'm taking inspiration from all of you here and doing the parts that work for me, instead of beating myself up for not following the book to the letter.

I'm loving the morning pages (11 days out of 11). Not exactly loving getting up at 5am to do them first thing, but damn if I'm not committing to doing it! Proud of myself :) Didn't do many of the exercises or tasks though, just a little here and there during the morning pages. Hmm, that's something I want to do differently next chapter.

- and thanks for the heads up about the 'crazy', good to know going into chapter 2.
posted by rawrberry at 10:09 AM on May 21 [5 favorites]


Week 8:1 Content warning…

***

Heads up to future readers that this week’s opening essay compares artistic loss to miscarriage, describes violated trust as emotional incest, and “unscrupulous criticism” as covert sexual harassment. Pretty heavy-handed and insensitive analogies.

***

Haven’t read any further yet because whew!
posted by probably not that Karen Blair at 12:08 PM on May 21 [3 favorites]


Okay, Week 8 is not for me. I plan to repeat week 7 then skip to 9.
posted by probably not that Karen Blair at 12:42 PM on May 21 [3 favorites]


Before I do my check-in, I want to say hi to the group and let everyone know that I appreciate each of you! It's very helpful to me to read other people's experiences. With respect to the author's choices, I think I have issues with her and her many dated and/or bizarre passages. I have already seen benefits from doing this project and I am embracing the cognitive dissonance of the situation. It's all so fascinating! (I suppose this is part 3 of the check-in..)

Week 2, Day 7: I completed 7/7 morning pages and I am coming to treasure this time of day. I'm writing with less pressure and a looser grip and I'm doing it more quickly! I choose 3 affirmations and write them 5 times each and I love doing this so much.

I liked the activities for this week! I did a few: I made a circle into a pie and did dots and connected them into a weird shape; I made a list of 20 things I like to do with dates last done, which was eye-opening for me; I did the next part and picked two for goals for this week and I did not attain those goals so I'm rolling them over to next week; I reread the instructions section a few times but not every morning and night; I added to my list of other lives. I'm going to do a pie connect the dots every week because I liked it and I want to see how they morph.

No excursion this week, so I did some home-based stuff for my artist's date and I wrote about it here.

I'm going to read chapter 3 tonight and see what happens next!
posted by danabanana at 3:39 PM on May 21 [4 favorites]


Week 2 was rocky in the beginning but was able to complete without problem.
Attention is a way to connect and survive”…….
Actually I could relate to the attention section where Cameron described her grandma’s “Flora and fauna reports” . It resonated with my walk in the park watching the wild flowers ,listening to the sounds of the birds and children in the playground, the fragrance from the wild honeysuckle plants in the woods and enjoying the gentle breeze while watching the beautiful sunset on a nice sunny evening.

“In times of pain, when the future is too terrifying to contemplate and the past too painful to remember, I have learned to pay attention to right now. The precise moment I was in was always the only safe place for me. Each moment, taken alone, was always bearable. In the exact now, we are all, always, all right.”…This is difficult to follow but I’m trying..

I liked all the rules of the road especially the 3rd and 4th
where it says
“set small and gentle goals and meet them”.. I achieved some(Yah!)
“Pray for guidance,courage and humility”

I did most of the tasks and achieved the goal for one from the list of tiny changes.Hoping to set goals for the other things in the list too.

Started reading week 3 yesterday.
posted by SunPower at 1:00 PM on May 22 [4 favorites]


Sharing a few words I found in another Julia Cameron book that inspired me this morning.

"So many things are out of our control, but making art is in our control. There is always a small and doable creative something we can do.... We may not be able to work at our art on the level that we wish we could, but we can always do something.... In other words, we can always make things for love. Extending ourselves in love toward our art nurtures feelings of dignity."
posted by probably not that Karen Blair at 7:28 AM on May 23 [5 favorites]


Wow, thank you, probably not that Karen Blair, for sharing this quote that I truly needed today! I read it several times to let it sink in. I am going to write it for my TAW folder/notebook and read it often!

<3 <3 <3
posted by danabanana at 10:25 AM on May 23 [3 favorites]


Week Three, Day Five: Power

I skipped the morning pages yesterday. I'd had an early medical appointment and it fell right in that quiet slough between medication and breakfast when I usually get the pages done. This was the second set I'd skipped since the beginning and it was a mistake not to wedge it in somewhere else, because I did them today and the day seemed more clear and approachable. Afterward, I went out into the yard and gathered fallen sticks from last weekend's snowstorm and was able to put a whole bag out with the trash today.

This week's content has been both a hit and a miss for me. I liked the part about serendipity, though, and I liked the tasks. I ate a Little Debbie oatmeal cream pie for the first time in more than 30 years. They're smaller and a lot sweeter than I remember.

With every chapter I've been thinking about the differences between now and when this book was initially written. The issues with Chapter 2 and Chapter 8 (and I'm sure deeper in the book) are part of this, of course. But I'm also thinking about how it's so much easier to find platforms to learn and share and how that changes the barrier to entry. If you're a photographer, you don't have to lurk in a darkroom and lug prints to a gallery in a city -- you can go entirely digital and post your entire portfolio to any of a dozen upload sites. If you want to paint, you don't have to wait for a formal class -- you can hop on youtube or skillshare or or-or-or and find any kind of lesson you want. You lose the shivery anticipation but you gain the immediacy. We're in such a different world now from when this book began.

And I've been thinking quite a lot about probably not that Karen Blair's question two weeks ago re: art and creativity, compare and contrast, and I think they're linked. Like, I do want to create professionally -- my end goal is to transition my writing/editing career from my usual corporate-stuff-for-hire to instead focus more on writing essays and longform pieces about navigating chronic illness, and I'm going to have to improve both my writing and my critical/constructive thinking (and let's face it, the hard part of just doing the work itself) to make that happen. But I also want more creativity in my life -- I want to get better at turning off screens and spending a weeknight with my watercolors. I want to write more letters. I want to cook more interesting things. I just want more lightness and fun.

I hope everyone's doing okay this week.
posted by mochapickle at 6:14 PM on May 26 [5 favorites]


Not the best week for me. I didn’t do the things I set out to, but they were related enough to count. The list of favorite things was a little depressing Bcs there are valid and unavoidable reasons i can’t do them. So while I get the start small message the acknowledgment of the valid blocks was difficult to face this week. But I’m still working and checking in here. Thanks for the inspiration!
posted by Phyllis keeps a tight rein at 4:16 AM on May 28 [4 favorites]


Week 3;This week was tough and I couldn’t do many tasks.But was able to write the morning pages (7/7).It was all about venting my anger,regrets,worry,pain,etc etc.Writing the morning pages is really helping me stay calmer throughout the day. One of the tasks I liked was about analyzing our rotten habits.

“ Some rotten habits are more subtle (no time to exercise, little time to pray, always helping others, not getting any self-nurturing, hanging out with people who belittle your dreams).”

Few years ago, I took care of some of my rotten habits and can’t tell you how much I felt better.For the artist’s date,made some brownies and played some video games.felt so relaxed!Thank you all for the inspiration.
posted by SunPower at 6:19 PM on May 28 [3 favorites]


Week 3: This was a challenging week for me as well. We have been infested by ants, gross Pacific Northwest ones called velvety tree ants whose insides smell like a mix of citrus, pine, and gasoline, for over two months. Our town doesn't have any pest control people, so we have to wait until a company from a bigger town an hour away comes, and they won't come if it's been raining, and we have been getting a lot of rain. The ants started in the kitchen, then showed up in the bathroom that shares a wall with the kitchen, and, on Sunday night, somehow found their way into the living room. When I woke up Monday morning, my husband had been spraying the floor and surfaces and wiping up ants for hours. It was awful and I was so anxious about this that I couldn't finish my morning pages. I eventually came to grips with the situation and I complain about the ants in my morning pages and write ANTS GO AWAY as part of my affirmations.

So I didn't do all the exercises, although the ones I did were fun. I will come back to them in the future.

Morning pages: 6 1/3 of 7

I had a revelation while luxuriating in the bathtub (in the non-ant bathroom): I will probably be doing morning pages for the rest of my life! I am much more clear in my thinking when I do them. I dwell on thoughts and repeat ideas and stories that just clutter my mind, and when I write them down, I'm free. I have taken to writing at night on my tablet to get rid of whatever will prevent me from falling asleep. Writing is therapeutic and I'm thrilled to have taken up the habit again, and even more thrilled that I am getting the pages done very quickly.

Serendipity: yes, several times, but once that was especially cool: I texted a friend who was looking for her phone to text me, and my texting helped her find her phone! Fun! I love Jung and when I first read about his theory, it gave me a name for something that happened to me all the time. The author's inclusion of this in the book raised my estimation of her and this process she made up.

Artist's date: yes, and you can read about it here. Bonus content: a picture of my childhood room and one of my current dog!

Other: thanks for reading this and (if you do) checking out the blog post! I love refreshing this page and seeing something new, and reading about your experiences is so interesting!
posted by danabanana at 9:13 AM on May 29 [3 favorites]


Hi, everybody! Today's my last day on week 9, and it's been a better fit. Several helpful concepts presented although, as we've come to expect, not perfect. One task/exercise is to go back and read your morning pages from the beginning. I'd had an idea this was coming since I'd glimpsed it while flipping through the book, but I still was not prepared. It was a little discouraging to watch myself spin my wheels on the same issues for 8 weeks. She clearly predicts this is what you will discover, and says now that you see what your issues are, you can solve them. But my issues seem to be conceptual, not material, so I have no idea how to go about that. Just keep going, I guess.

On a lighter note, I had a terrific artist's date. I went to a craft fair over the holiday weekend. Typically, I avoid these types of events because I expect they consist of people selling tchotchkes I don't want. Since it was an artist's date I went with a different attitude and enjoyed being awake to people's creativity. I chatted with several of the artists there and was inspired by their enthusiasm and love for their work. I stayed for a couple hours and it turned out to be a very joyous experience!

I'll start week 10 tomorrow. I can't believe I'm so near the end. The time has really flown by.

I'm glad you are all along on this project, and thanks again to you, mochapickle for starting it. (BTW are you still baking a pie a week? That was you, right?) And Dana, I loved the picture of your dog. Thank you! I'm enjoying your Tumblr.
posted by probably not that Karen Blair at 10:40 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


Week 4 check-in:
This was a good week! I was not thrilled about the reading restriction, but then I made a list of activities that I like to do but haven't done recently. Once I got started on non-reading activities, I forgot about not reading. I have a different nighttime schedule now, and I listen to music or meditation podcasts and sometimes do light tasks like folding laundry and sorting bags of bags of stationery and supplies.

One of my synchronicity moments was thinking about my library holds before bed and thinking this would be the week they started to become available, and I woke up the next morning to find an email from the library telling me the new Jennifer Egan book was available! I downloaded it and never opened it and I'm looking forward to starting it soon. I don't know if I will go back to reading for 2 hours before sleeping. I might just make reading time at some other time during the day. I am genuinely amazed by the ways this course is affecting my thoughts and actions!

I spent a lot of time doing artist date type activities. My latest post about that is here.

Again, thank you for reading this and the blog. Karen, I am so excited for you to be so close to the end, and I appreciate the heads up about reading our morning pages in week 8 - I have been using colored pens and some are too light for me to read so moving forward, I'm using legible ink for my brain dumps. I will miss your updates! When the 12 weeks are up, I will miss you all! I will probably be continuing much of the course, starting over at the beginning, on Tumblr. I have become a TAW person!
posted by danabanana at 8:44 AM on June 4 [3 favorites]


Week 4: Integrity (epilogue)

Week 5 begins today. The reading/tv/extra words embargo of Week 4 was a lot harder for me than I expected. My daily allowance of energy and focus typically runs out well before the day does, often by lunchtime, and I hadn't realized how much newsreading and random youtubing filled my afternoons. It was a real struggle sometimes to find activities that matched my energy level while honoring the rule for the week, and I failed often.

I unplugged the TV midweek. By Thursday, it started getting much easier to follow the rules, although I confess that more than once I checked the road atlas in my car to see just how many hours it would take to drive to Santa Fe, ask Miss J. Cameron exactly what her most constructive ideas might be for the millions of would-be creative people who might not always be up for dancing or painting bookshelves turquoise, perhaps throw something at her (either an armful of flowers or an inexplicably damp live raccoon, depending on her answer), and drive back. And the answer is 11. Eleven hours, providing I drive straight through, speed a little, and find a raccoon pretty quickly.

The morning pages continue to be a highlight for me and I wake up looking forward to doing them. I'm anxious about writing in an actual journal, so I'm just using what I used to take notes in college: lined looseleaf, tucked neatly into a largeish brown kraft envelope when they're done.

The other highlight this week was finding how yes, Julia C had predicted several markers about this week correctly: A lot of things about my life no longer fit. There's been a lot of cleaning and organizing, which feels necessary and productive. I often found myself adding random items to my grocery order, seeking new things to try. I have a growing pile of stuff to donate, which feels good. One afternoon I wandered around the house in a state of half-epiphany, earnestly declaring to my dog that I needed to paint a kitchen wall black as soon as possible and order a chandelier.

So now I'm off to Week Five! Thanks, always, to everyone sharing your thoughts on the process. It's good to have company and see how this is working for others, and I am always excited to read your insights and see pictures of gorgeous gorgeous dogs!

And yes, pntKB, that was me with the pies! I had to stop for various reasons, but it was really fun while it lasted and there were some really terrific pies.
posted by mochapickle at 7:11 AM on June 5 [4 favorites]


Week4: Writing morning pages has become a routine now .Didn’t miss till today.I couldn’t sleep well last night .Sleep deprivation affects me mentally and physically.I woke up late today tired but I enjoyed watching French Open men’s finals without doing any other work.well relaxed.I assume it was my artist date.Serendipity.I always liked watching Rafael Nadal play but haven’t watched the entire game in a long time.He is a great player but what I like about him is how humble and down to earth person he is.I heard in 60 minutes that he is the only player who hasn’t broken a single racquet in court.

I look forward to writing my morning pages every day even though it’s all about venting my anger ,regrets or frustrations .I write it down in a loose leaf paper and keep them inside the notebook for a week.Then I throw them away.I don’t want to read them again as it may trigger some unwanted feelings.This has helped me to get through my day in peace without falling into anxiety/depression.As probably not that Karen Blair mentioned, I don’t think I’ll be able to do week 9 task/exercise of reading my morning pages.I think writing gives me clarity of thinking which may(?) help to analyze the problems to find solutions .But I’m not there yet.This is like cleaning your closet.First dump everything out,then sort them and rearrange back into the closet.I think I’m still in the first stage.

One of the tasks I liked most this week was writing my own Artist’s Prayer.It feels refreshing to read it every morning (like connecting to the higher power).

danabanana , it’s so good to read your blog.Nice picture of your dog and the collage project.This reminds me of organizing my paper clippings and other art projects.They are all on my long to-do list.

Mochapickle,I read about your 🥧 project.Wish I was your neighbor 🙂

Thank you all.It’s been a long time I’ve done something like this.I couldn’t have come this far but for all your inspiration.
posted by SunPower at 5:18 PM on June 5 [3 favorites]


Week 5: Hello everyone! I liked this week and I enjoyed doing the exercises. I spent a good deal of time on Pinterest on Monday, looking for pictures of all the things I needed pictures for and actually reading some of the blurbs (I took the reading restriction of week 4 way too seriously and allowing myself to read made me giddy; that said, I read 3 books this week and I should probably draw a cartoon of myself lying down with my tablet but my drawing skills are not quite there yet...). I enjoyed that part of the exercises a lot.

I did morning pages every day and I experienced several forms of synchronicity every day. I did my artist's date and the blog post is here.

I am going to read the next chapter tomorrow and I am looking forward to initially bristling against her instructions and eventually embracing them or at least finding a way to make them work for me.

Thanks again for reading and I look forward to seeing how everyone's week went!
posted by danabanana at 6:26 PM on June 11 [3 favorites]


Week 5, Day 7: Possibility

Last week's media hiatus gained some real traction this week as I became more mindful of how much time I spent reading online: mostly news, always endless, always breathless. And I discovered, too, how much of my TV viewing centered specifically on what I'd been reading online. And it's not just time, but the energy and focus, too. I'm rediscovering that I prefer a quiet house and that thoughts come more easily without the buzz of those distractions.

The big changes J. Cameron describes are real. Instead of an artist date, I upended the spare room, sketching a new dedicated office space with a comfortable chair. My whole house looks like someone picked it up, shook it, and set it back down again. (On second thought, I did have a little bit of an artist date: Dark house, bedside lamp, a mystery novel, and a bag of giant marshmallows consumed with great cheer. Nine-year-old me did this kind of thing routinely.)

But I also had a bit of a personal epiphany this week as well, one that I'd felt stirring for weeks. It's about something that I'd always blamed myself over and in many ways I felt it confirmed I was a failure. I'd long put it on the backburner because my initial medical diagnosis happened immediately afterward and I was poorly equipped to deal with either situation, much less both.

And I think it's a kind of synchronicity that made me see it clearly after all these years: the combination of feeling a little bit steadier medically and finally being able to think more objectively, the vantage of having had some time to think, a few recent conversations that triggered a new angle of thought, this TAW program that's designed to make you take a clear look of who you are. The creative self is the core self, and my core self just figured out how to stop lugging around this big sad guilty duffel it's been carrying for years.

One of the biggest takeaways I've gotten so far is that when we *allow* ourselves to be creative and productive and capable and whole, we will become creative and productive and capable and whole. And I know that sounds so obvious and cheesy, right? But this concept never really truly fully unlocked for me and it feels really good.

I'm looking forward to next week. As always, thanks to all of you for being so present and candid. I think I would have dropped in Week 3 again if it weren't for the encouragement and solidarity and I've gained so much just this week by staying.

I'm grateful to all of you. On to Week Six!
posted by mochapickle at 8:14 PM on June 11 [3 favorites]


Update: Week 10 included a lot of good and helpful material for me, but my IRL week was hell. Three long days in trials, but far worse, a former workmate was murdered (google Wisconsin judge targeted) and even though we hadn't talked in years, I'm just struggling to process it. Really can't understand why it's hitting me so hard. Maybe just confronting my own mortality and the randomness of things? Anyway, I didn't do any of the tasks or exercises or an artist's date, although I did keep up my morning pages even though I didn't feel like it. Week 10 actually has an essay on point titled, "Drought," which has steadied me.

Anyway, going to repeat week 10, and already have plans for a real artist date. Some friends are visiting from out of town, too, so that should lift me up.

So glad to be on this journey with you all. I look forward to reading your updates every time!
posted by probably not that Karen Blair at 7:59 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


I had a tough week.I was enjoying the week 5 activities till my son with ASD got sick with stomach issues.He needed attention 24/7 and I couldn’t do anything let alone morning pages.I was exhausted and tired.I almost gave up doing TAW till danabanana card showed up in my mailbox yesterday.Thanks danabanana! The inspirational message from her helped me to start again.So glad I’m doing this with you all.
posted by SunPower at 8:46 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


Hey, wow, I hope everyone is doing okay.

probably not that Karen Blair, I found that news story about your colleague and I'm shaken. I can't even imagine what you must be feeling and I hope you're okay. And SunPower, I hope your kiddo is bouncing back and you are as well... danabanana is an angel in disguise and I've been 100% sure of it for years now.

Week 6, Day 7: Abundance

This week felt abundant. During the middle part of the week, we headed up to the mountains for a few days. Blue skies and tall pines just below the continental divide. It's really just an hour or so up the highway but it's the farthest (and furthest...) I've been from home since November 2019, and I spent the entire first afternoon swinging in a hammock at 9000 ft elevation just feeling glad to be there and to be feeling well and to be able to walk through the woods with bouncy little dogs, and to feel like I have all the time in the world.

These past two weeks I've been thinking a lot about budgets -- like financial budgets, but time and energy budgets, too, so this chapter seemed to be the natural progression to that. I seem to have a finite amount of energy per day, and before the medical situation happened I would always give my job my best energy and my best creativity and just hope I had some left over for myself. I rarely did. I need to find a way to flip the priority -- to perform well at a job, but to save the best of my creative self for my own projects. And I don't know whether that means finding an entirely new line of work, or finding some sort of asynchronous working structure that could help support that. I'm not entirely sure what this would look like, but I'm getting a better and better idea of what it shouldn't look like, and that's helping me navigate first steps.

Physical rearranging of my home also continues. Is anyone else spending a good chunk of their morning pages just imagining what it would be like to move your current furniture into different rooms?

I did miss 1.66 days of morning pages -- on the travel day back down the mountain I only had a moment to write a single page. On the next day, I was up early taking care of a task that had to be done before the heat set in. I felt crummy without the morning pages and I swore to my Big Brown Envelope I would do my best to write every day.

On to Week Seven...
posted by mochapickle at 9:26 PM on June 18 [2 favorites]


Hello TAW friends!

Thanks for all the kind words! It means so much to me! I enjoy interacting with everyone and being helpful helps me grow. I really adore all the support we give each other as we work (and play!) through this book!

Quick note: I have been decreasing a psych med (gabapentin) and it turns out that I have been tapering too quickly. I'm exhibiting signs of early hypomania. So I'm writing this later than usual, and I haven't done a blog post yet. But I had a great artist date and I want to share it, so I will post the link when it's done.

Week 6: Abundance

I loved this chapter and its exercises! I did morning pages every day and I did almost all the exercises. I experienced synchronicity several times and it was always fun!

When I read about doing two artist dates, I thought, "Ooh!" Then I turned the date into a weeklong affair, spending time listening to music as I cleaned my closet and made space for an altar. I spent several sessions collecting items (including the suggested flowers and rocks) and putting them in place. I now have a sacred space with great energy, and I sit there and look at the altar and go somewhere else, somewhere liminal. This was one of my favorite activities so far!

I have been listening to a meditation podcast episode that is 20 minutes of relaxation with intentions and affirmations about abundance. It is extremely powerful and truly reinforces my dedication to maintaining a mindset of prosperity and abundance.

A fun self-care activity I did was paint my nails gold!

I'm counting for a month because I am curious and we don't do budgets or anything financially listy (I am an adult child; my husband has spreadsheets in his brain).

As I'm giving myself time to find my balance, I am pulling back a bit for now. I like the next chapter and I think I will benefit from doing some of the exercises. I'm doing morning pages because that's what I do now! I am already cutting up the last few magazines I have for some collages, which will probably become an artist date. Is this synchronicity: I have only 3 magazines that survived the spring cleaning purge, and I wished I had more pictures. Then I found a letter from my mom with magazine clippings with book recommendations that had great pictures on the backs. And I started a letter to a friend from high school and I found that his letter to me had a few pages from Architectural Digest in the envelope. And during my search for magazines, I unearthed a pile of mental health zines on topics like self-care, how to be gentle to yourself, and surviving antipsychotics. I found what I wanted and then got a bonus! I say yes to synchronicity and yes to attracting abundance!

Thank you for reading this! I am looking forward to reading more from everyone else!
posted by danabanana at 6:40 PM on June 21 [2 favorites]


Here's the abundance artist's date project!
posted by danabanana at 11:01 AM on June 22 [2 favorites]


Hi, Everyone! First, thank you all for your kind support. It has made a real difference in my ability to move on. All my company came and went and we had a good time, and our catalpa trees are in full flower -- so heavenly -- so I've been having some good days.

I completed my second trip through week 10 and am just coming to the end of week 11. Lots of good material in the essays for me, and I'll probably repeat this week, too. For one thing, I only have one more week of material left, and then the project will be over for me (!) and I don't have a solid idea of where to go from there. For another thing, I haven't done any of the tasks or exercises - again!

In fact, this is a trend I have noticed. I enjoy reading the essays and doing the morning pages, but I haven't done many of the tasks for weeks now. In the first three to five weeks the tasks were great and helpful. I've even considered going back and doing some of them again. Lately, they've all felt -- idk, irrelevant? Either that, or things I already do. (Guess that means I AM doing the tasks! :-D ) Pretty sure it's me and not the material. I certainly don't want to discourage any of you, because in spite of not doing the tasks, I am enjoying this project and growing from it.

Mochapickle, congratulations on your trip to the mountains, it sounds like it was wonderful! In answer to your question, no, I haven't given a single thought to re-arranging my house, so I think it's fascinating that you are (and maybe I should consider it). Our sense of self and self-expression comes out in so many different and interesting ways, and shaping our environment is an important one that doesn't always get noticed. Also, so often our space is shared with others and so our self-expression gets moderated or even frustrated. I hope you will decide to share what you end up doing.

Danabanana, I could use some lessons from you in adult child-ing, you bring so much enthusiasm to life and your projects look so fun! I guess that's what TAW's for!

I love being in this group. All of you are always in the back of my mind whether you've posted lately or not, and I'm sending you positive energy and well wishes!
posted by probably not that Karen Blair at 10:21 AM on June 24 [3 favorites]


Week 7, Day 7: Connection

I was a little distracted this week.

I did end up reeeeeally leaning into making my house smell nice, which has long been a favorite thing to do. I unearthed half a drawer of scented candles that I'm committed to enjoying one by one, and I've decided to honor my creative time by lighting a candle any time I'm working on a creative project, which is kind of lovely, adding a sense of the sacred to creative work. Instead of the collage (I don't have any magazines!) I just did some freewriting and lists on topics and themes I enjoy, and that was a really enjoyable exercise. And I had a fantastic experience early this week during morning pages when a scene unfurled in front of me, just as clear as if I were watching a movie, and kept me company for the rest of the day.

So yeah: While I went a little rogue on Chapter 7, one thing I really enjoy about this program is how the previous weeks' lessons tend to crash back and forth in my mind like waves, bringing new things to the surface. Like last week's abundance lessons: The other day, I sent my foot through the last set of sheets I had that fit my mattress. It's been years since I bought sheets -- I've just been steadily using up everything in my linen closet, everything that I'd purchased back before I'd gotten sick. And so I ordered two new sets, and I'm so enjoying them and marveling at how fresh and pretty they are with my favorite summer quilt.

And it dawned on me -- and admittedly I live in my own little mental valley where dawn arrives later for me than it does for most -- that abundance isn't necessarily a matter of having more. It just means that you have what you need. And that goes for your creative self as well. Like, I want to be a better casual painter, and I think I have the tools and interest I need to pursue that hobby more enjoyably. With writing, I'd always feel blocked when a theme or plot I'd thought of had already been done and done well, but that's okay now: I realize now that no one's heard my take on it, and there's plenty of room for it. That's a big change.

In other news, I've drastically reduced my screen time and my doomscrolling habit, and that's improved my mood and my sleep. The TV remains dark on most days. I've been making a point to sit outside for at least an hour before bed, which has been brilliant. Tonight it rained and I shivered happily in a blanket until long past sunset.

probablynotthatKarenBlair, I think it's really healthy to fit the program to your needs and just take what's useful, just as you'll be doing after next week! I have had weeks where I've skipped tasks or modified them based on how I thought the spirit of the lesson fit my personal circumstance, and I've still gotten so much more out of this program than I'd anticipated. I'm eager to see your thoughts on the overall program. And I'm so glad your week was a positive and hopeful one for you.

danabanana, I am so bowled over by your altar! It is so beautiful and I love how every item brings its own strength and meaning to the whole. It is a work of ART.

As always, I appreciate all of you so much and I am sending you all love and support. On to Week EIGHT!
posted by mochapickle at 9:23 PM on June 25 [3 favorites]


Update: week 6 & 7: Last 2 weeks has been busy running around with my PT sessions, my son’s doctor appts/lab works,cooking every meal and even made a cake yesterday for his birthday.The first cake didn’t come out well.Then I indulged myself with some chocolate and coffee,took some break and made another cake(fortunately it baked perfectly ).He is ok for now.He has become too sensitive to many things (still figuring out the triggers……).Gastroenterologist feels it’s best to observe and eliminate the triggers….it’s overwhelming but taking one day at a time.

I somehow managed to write the morning pages everyday .It really helps me deal with the stress.It has become a habit now.Doing TAW has helped calm myself and I could even start my sketching,painting and paper cutting again. Art has been my passion all my life and it has helped me get through some rough patches in life.

Mochapickle, it’s always wonderful and refreshing to spend time in the mountains .I can imagine how beautiful and relaxing it must have been for you at 9000feet.I’m happy for you!!
probablynotthatKarenBlair,so glad you had a great time with your friends and feeling better now.
Danabanana, I am amazed how beautifully you have created your altar with the way each item symbolizes strength,meaning and joy to our life.I love the enthusiasm that you bring into every activity you do.Thank you for inspiring us!!!

I have been enjoying some of the activities which was easy to squeeze into my crazy weeks.I got some beautiful flowers from the store for my living room where I usually write my morning pages ,baked cake(s), cleaned my deck so I could sit and enjoy my vegetable/flower garden.I enjoy reading my Artist prayer when I do my morning pages every day.We have started cleaning/fixing things in the house as our vacation on hold now .I didn’t make collages from magazines but got some images from Pinterest to draw in my iPad.It may take a while to finish that activity.
No specific artist date but I got a Cricut maker. I am making some designs in my iPad to use in Cricut machine .So excited to explore my creativity in this newfound hobby.Also started learning about bringing art to life using AR and 3D modeling.Its a little intense for me to focus on right now but wanted to challenge myself.it’s a baby step………

I enjoy reading your updates and I am so glad to be part of this journey with you all.

Love you all and appreciate all your encouragement to keep me going……..enjoy the summer and stay cool!!
posted by SunPower at 5:47 PM on June 27 [3 favorites]


SunPower, what a fantastic update! Have been thinking of you often!
posted by mochapickle at 5:51 PM on June 27 [3 favorites]


Agonizing success of ‘Artist’s Way’
Profile of Julia Cameron and The Artists Way by Gina Piccalo in LA Times June 23, 2006
First two paragraphs:

Julia Cameron’s journey to guru-dom began, perhaps predictably, in Los Angeles in the 1970s after a failed celebrity marriage and a scotch-and-cocaine binge had brought her to rock bottom. Back then, she was best known as the lush whom Martin Scorsese left for Liza Minnelli, the hotshot writer who swore like a sailor and matched Hunter S. Thompson drink-for-drink.

This was before sobriety became Cameron’s religion and her own recovery inspired her “creative unblocking” seminars, before her 1992 bestseller “The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity” sold more than 2 million copies, before the book spawned a movement, before strangers approached her in airports with home-recorded CDs, self-published poetry, handmade jewelry and the words, “You saved my life.”


~~~~~

I have done "The Morning Pages" a few times, attended a group here in Austin, people talking of their triumphs and pains from following Cameron's discipline.

But I really never did much other than The Morning Pages. And I began to call myself an artist, to think of myself as an artist. Sounds ludicrous probably but it was good for me. Spitting out those pages seemed to clear some things inside me, gave me permission to follow my art heart. Or maybe it didn't clear things, maybe it created a shift. I never followed through on that work -- and it *is* work -- but it got me writing some, eventually some painting.

But what I did was 100 Words, I'd heard or read about it somewhere, and the day after I got home from what I call my "40 Days And 40 Nights In The Desert Tour 2002" I began writing 100 words a day. Not 97, nor 104 -- 100. I found that to say something in 100 words, no more no less, I found that to really say anything of consequence, a great discipline. I learned about editing, I'd write large, say what comes to mind, get it down, pound it out, and then rip into it CUT CUT CUT !!! -- I found that difficult. And fun, and interesting. I started 20 years ago today, July 2002. You don't get to put your month up until the month is over, and you've written your 100 every day. It's on the honor system, and no one to know if I didn't write the whole month. But I held to it, because that honor system, if I broke it, if I lied about it, it would dishonor me. And it's not all that bad anyways, you are allowed one "cheat" day a month, one day when you forgot or whatever. It's a real fucker if you write for 26 days and then miss two days, you don't get your hundreds posted -- over the years I've done that rather a lot, enough to assure you that it blows.

Those hundreds, they primed the pump. It opened me to what I'd said years before -- "Hey, look at me, I'm writing!"

Sometime in October of 2002 I read somewhere or other about these crazy people joining together to write a book. NaNoWriMo -- National Novel Writing Month. I thought "Hey, this could be fun." and it damn sure was. Because of my daily experience with the hundreds it made sense to me to write NaNoWriMo every day; the event said that 50,000 words is a book, I divided that 50,000 words by 30, the number of days in November, and it comes to 1,666.66 words a day. Some days I wrote twice that, or more, some days I was so blown out that I just scratched in the date and time and wrote something along the line "I've got absolutely no juice, I'm only here to say hi, and to say I hate this stupid jive, and now I'm done. So there." I'd take my laptop down to the river, some nights I took it into this one really sleazy, scummy, absolutely hole in the wall dive that The Joe Richardson Express played at least once a week; I'd ride my bike into town, lock it the hell up, head inside and sit on one of those shitty metal folding chairs, open that laptop and write my heart out while listening to that great three piece blues/rock band.

Or go to Star Seeds, a real sleazy, fun restaurant, go on Friday or Saturday night, get there by 11, get a good table and just take it all in -- the drunks coming in loud and festive starting about 12:30, and they'd hang tile maybe 2:00 AM, but always still some holdouts until the topless dancers and the barkeeps and maybe bouncers started coming in 3:30 or 4:00, and through it all the odd homeless person wandering through, mostly not causing any trouble, just lost souls. Star Seeds is a great place to write, for sure. I *always* tipped the waitress a lot, because I'm at a table that would be tips for them if I wasn't there for five hours, watching and writing.

I've started NaNoWriMo maybe 5 times, or 7, but only finished three times, or 4.

Anyways, that's what opened the gates for me. I never wrote a novel nor wanted to, I wrote Day In The Life, what I was up to, what I was experiencing, that sort of thing. I recommend it.

~~~~~

A bit I wrote here about writing:
posted by dancestoblue at 3:28 AM on July 2 [2 favorites]


Thank you for that, Dancestoblue, it explains a lot. TAW has so many wonderful essays, so many really helpful exercises AT THE SAME TIME it is overflowing with exasperating bullshit! It genuinely has been a good experience for me, including learning to trust my own experience and not make her a guru. She’s just another human with her own problems and some good ideas. Knowing more about her circumstances, successes, and failures gives a lot of helpful insight and makes the book a more useful tool. I appreciate it!
posted by probably not that Karen Blair at 6:27 AM on July 2 [3 favorites]


Week 8, Day 7: Strength

So I know this chapter is called Recovering a Sense of Strength, but after two passes through the essays, I think it's misnamed. It should be Recovering a Sense of Resilience, or maybe Discernment, or maybe Priority, or maybe Perspective or Opportunity. Or Recovering a Sense of Authority. Yeah. Maybe that one.

Chapter 8 is all about navigating the various voices, including your own, and circumstances that can roadblock your creative endeavors before they have a chance to gain momentum. It's about trusting yourself and finding ways to continue regardless of the terms.

As with other chapters, some of the guidance was really spot on for me while other parts had me rolling my eyes. And there were some super hacky metaphors that need to be excised in the next edition. (I'm still grousy about the extended anorexia metaphor from two chapters ago in an otherwise helpful week.) And it's weird, but the exercise of working through the chapter, reacting to the sections, nodding emphatically at some, blowing raspberries at others, it kind of supported the theme for the week: By drawing a thick line around which essays worked and which ones didn't work for you, you're developing confidence in understanding who you are as a creator. And that's really helpful.

I really liked the part about Filling the Form. I've certainly been guilty of trying to write, finding it really hard, and realizing I had no idea what I was doing. These tender little spikes of anxiety would set in: What if there's no story there? What if there's no story anywhere? And I'd immediately sort of blow right past addressing the anxiety by instead imagining more pleasant things, like the house I would have after my sixth novel dominated the bestseller lists (some cottagey thing, of course, on the rocky windswept coast of somewhere, mossy driftwood, saltwater, the occasional fog horn).

So seeing it laid out plainly like that, understanding now that my years-long habit of skipping to the "good" part was due to a sheer sense of terror that I had nothing important to say, and in doing so I was ignoring the pleasure and process of creation -- which is the whole point, the best part of everything -- was really eye opening. It means I need to practice using my time wisely and well and do the work.

One of my goals for this Artist's Way program was simply to finish. I've so often started things, gotten distracted, wandered off, let them go. And I'd always feel awful about it. I feel like something has shifted now -- I feel like moving through TAW week by week, sticking with it, creating a daily practice of the morning pages, devoting a lot of thought and concentration to these chapters and now the initial workings of a novel, it's been a boon to my strength/resilience/discernment/priority/perspective/opportunity/authority. And I'm so grateful for the company and support from you. Which is a reminder that I need to seek out support in creative projects, but trust myself too.

Morning pages are going well. Every now and then I'll be writing about breakfast and a plot twist will press its way into the lines between the blueberry pancakes and the essential daily question of coffee-or-tea. It's a welcome and astonishing thing. I feel a little possessed when that happens, but it's in the best possible way.

Thanks so much for reading and thank you all for being here with me. On to Week Nine. :)
posted by mochapickle at 7:01 PM on July 2 [3 favorites]


Weeks 7+8 = taking it easy

Hello to all! It's been an interesting two weeks. I've been slowly decreasing my psych meds and during week 7, I began to feel detox symptoms so I had to stop decreasing and add some back to let my metabolism equilibrate. So I had mornings where I eked out a page and one where I just plain said no and my inner Tracy Flick fainted. But I got stuff done. I didn't really do many exercises either week and I gave the essays only a cursory glance. So future me can redo these chapters because I do think they could be rewarding if I gave them a chance and also if I have the mental fortitude to ignore the nonsensical metaphors that add nothing to my experience and sometimes enrage me. I have to rant a little each time, I suppose!

These two weeks flew by because I spent a good amount of time blatantly reading fiction. The reading restriction has rendered me to consider reading a luxury and I feel somewhat guilty about this. However, my job is to stay sane, to not become institutionalized. If reading keeps my mind active and engaged, I rather have to consider it a tool in my self-care armory and read with reckless abandon.

I did some collage for week 7 and I played with my altar most nights in week 8.

probably not that Karen Blair: Thank you for your kind and encouraging words! I think I will spend some time in my morning pages figuring out how I have evolved into an adult child and maybe that will turn into an essay I can share with (and dedicate to) you!

SunPower: I am so happy to read that my work is inspiring! Your art sounds exciting and I am curious to see what you do with the Cricut! Your 3D art that I've seen is so beautiful. I hope your son is doing well!

mochapickle: You are a revelation! You have reframed the way I see the book over and over, and this time I think you really got to the essence of the chapter and the entire book. I also like your explanation of abundance. Thank you for being such an inspiration and for your enthusiasm about my altar!

I feel stronger now and I did my morning pages today and read the chapter sort of. I will reread it when I get the mystery I just finished out of my head. I think I will engage more with the book this week. I'm actually looking forward to reading my pages and finding hidden gems!

Thanks to you, my TAW friends, for your support and reports and the wonderful vibe we maintain in this special place. I will be back next week, better and better every day along the way ;)
posted by danabanana at 9:59 PM on July 3 [3 favorites]


I hope this quick update is better than none. I’m really having trouble lately with expressing myself in writing lately. Which is kind of weird Bcs I actually am doing the morning pages and you’d think that would make me more articulate. Maybe there I can be so stream of conscience it’s easy, but then public facing is more intimidating Bcs of second guessing? It’s not just here, but even simple emails.

Anyway, I’m not terribly precise to the program but am reading the essays. But I’ve been on fire in the studio, and thanks to reading your posts I’m more aware of thought processes and looking for serendipity.

I may be more like Mochapickles note re “…started things, gotten distracted, wandered off, let them go.” But am happy and inspired by you all sticking with it. I’m going to assume it’s like quitting smoking where it takes multiple tries.
posted by Phyllis keeps a tight rein at 4:32 AM on July 4 [4 favorites]


Week 8 quick update: I couldn’t complete the tasks this week as it requires a lot of essays which is not easy for me at this time as I’m preparing myself for a surgery next Thursday.I’m not quitting but may take it slow and do the tasks later at my own pace.Started reading week 9. Thank you all for the support and encouragement.
posted by SunPower at 6:36 AM on July 5 [3 favorites]


Phylliskatr, it's good to hear from you! I feel you on the public-facing writing. The hardest thing I do every week is update here. And with that...

Update:
Chapter 11 Redux:
I gave myself an extra week on Chapter 11, partly because I found many of the essays excellent, partly to give myself more time to either do the tasks or work through why I'm not.

Chapter 12: Started Chapter 12 Saturday and liking it. I may stay in this chapter for two weeks, as well.

I'm in no hurry to complete the program. I'm gradually getting more comfortable with and accepting of myself as a creative person, learning what I like and what I want.

One unexpected thing is, a year or so ago I began to develop an itch to go solo tent camping. My family camped when I was a little kid, but I've only gone once as an adult and that was over 30 years ago. I watched a lot of YouTube videos, bought some gear, took day hikes without camping to get used to being outdoors, but I just haven't been able to get over the hump and actually do it. Over the last few weeks, TAW, creativity and camping have begun merging for me so that my artist dates become scouting for camping spots, camping in my backyard to get comfortable with my set-up, and stuff like that. Somehow, it's all intertwined with finding a sense of self and self expression. I never would've guessed it. I still haven't actually slept out in my tent anywhere but my backyard, but I feel a lot closer lol! And serendipity has been stumbling over some very nice locations for when I do get up the nerve. I think The Universe wants me to do this. I guess my point is, the project has been good for me in general, not limited to Art or art.

Mochapickle, I think you hit the nail on the head that one of the biggest benefits of the program is learning to trust your own judgment with respect to the program, itself. And I'm sorry, but I'm so glad I'm not the only one to wonder/fear, "What if I have nothing to say?" because I really wrestle with that. I'm just telling myself to develop the skill - fill the form - and something will come.

Danabanana, I'm glad you're doing what you need to do to take care of yourself. You're an important part of this community.

SunPower, take care of yourself. I'll be thinking of you next week.
posted by probably not that Karen Blair at 1:07 PM on July 6 [3 favorites]


Week 9: Compassion (epilogue)

I had known in advance that Week 9 was the READ YOUR MORNING PAGES week and I had decided weeks ago that I simply wasn't going to do that. My biggest hurdle in writing is my overwhelming tendency to self edit, which results in generating very little because whatever does make it onto a page never seemed to match whatever floating, fleeting thing I'd been trying to trap into words. So the process and practice -- and quite honestly, the ritual -- of generating three pages every morning without the fear of having to corral them into any kind of meaning or purpose whatsoever has been particularly freeing and encouraging to me as someone who never really felt all that free or encouraged to just write something without a particular mission in mind.

I'm heartened by the experience of the writer Ann Patchett, whose work is often so endlessly gorgeous that it regularly moves me to helpless, choking tears, who wrote:
I got better at closing the gap between my hand and my head by clocking in the hours, stacking up the pages. Somewhere in all my years of practice, I don’t know where exactly, I arrived at the art. I never learned how to take the beautiful thing in my imagination and put it on paper without feeling I killed it along the way. I did, however, learn how to weather the death, and I learned how to forgive myself for it.
I haven't yet arrived at the art, but I am enjoying the process of learning to write enough to make a stack. So the pages remain unread in the big brown envelope. And we move on to Week 10.

probably not that Karen Blair, I am so excited to hear about your renewed interest in camping! What a joy to sit and watch the sky turn golden in the evenings, then shiver into a sleeping bag as the night turns dark. I would love to hear more about this.

danabanana, I am always moved by all of the work you are doing both inside and outside of the program. And I am loving your botanical notes over on insta!

SunPower, thinking of you this week and wishing you swift and gentle healing. My best surgery tip is that if you have to stay at the hospital after and you're feeling a little blue, it is totally okay to have pie for breakfast. For real. You can order it and no one can stop you. Will be thinking of you on Thursday.

Phyllis keeps a tight rein, I'm so happy to hear from you! Like you, some weeks I participate more, some less. I think of all of it as a net positive. And my writing quality veers between desperate extremes depending on the time of day, how much focus and rest I've been able to have, if I'm feeling generally okay, what news I've consumed, the phase of the moon... But I'm delighted to hear that your studio work is going really well. Yay!
posted by mochapickle at 1:05 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


Week 9: My experience this week has been a continuation of the slow vibe of the previous couple of weeks. I'm doing morning pages every day. This week I relocated my arts and crafts materials to the walk-in closet where I have been hanging out with my altar. I still have to organize everything, but now it's all in one place and that is very satisfying! So I am calling that my artist date.

I tried reading my old morning pages, and while I understand the reasoning behind this activity, I don't think I have enough distance from two months ago to be able to benefit in the intended way. Maybe the next time I work through the book, I will feel different about this.

I have been using morning pages to work through an old trauma, and that has been helpful and I feel as if I'm actually accomplishing something. I am at a point where I have forgiven myself for allowing it to happen and for ignoring it for so long; my stubborn desire for vengeance has impaired my ability to forgive the person who hurt me. I no longer get anxious thinking about it and I believe that is a huge step for me.

Anxiety! I met my new doctor yesterday and I love her and her mind and her energy and the way she saw how my med situation was ridiculous and set about fixing it immediately. I had been having panic attacks before the appointment because it's difficult to encapsulate my history for a new person, and the last new doctor frankly offended me and my intelligence and was holding my prescriptions hostage until I got blood work done. Now I feel like I have a partner, an advocate on my team, and a tremendous weight has been lifted. I feel more free and more able to focus on creative pursuits.

probably not that Karen Blair: wow, I really enjoyed reading about your adventures in moving towards camping! I like thinking about you walking around and settling in to watch the sun set! I also appreciate your redoing chapters, because I think I will be going through the book at the end to see if some of it appeals more to a more unblocked me!

SunPower: I hope your procedure goes smoothly! You are in my thoughts, especially tomorrow!

Phyllis keeps a tight rein: hi! It's nice to see you again! Yay for your gains in the studio and for doing the morning pages. I have posting anxiety, or at least I did before I began to lay my feelings bare for all to see here... But I understand what you're saying and I think it is something that might just click one day? I hope you come back to update us again soon!

mochapickle: that Patchett quote is fantastic and I see how it could resonate with you. I think you have a wonderful way of thinking about, well, everything, but in particular, this project we are all doing in our own ways. It's like you infuse more meaning into what we're doing. It's highly poetic and your words flow directly into my brain!
posted by danabanana at 11:04 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


My friends, there's no update from me today as I just started Chapter 10 two days ago. I'm going to hang back and sit with this chapter through next week.

Hope everyone's doing well. Sending you healing thoughts, SunPower!
posted by mochapickle at 4:05 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


Thank you for all your well wishes.I was suppose to have outpatient surgery but ended up staying overnight as I was in severe pain and took longer time to wake up from anesthesia.mochapickle ,thanks for your tip but unfortunately they didn’t have pie.ended up with just some ice cream. Doctor said the surgery was successful and I came back home yesterday.I’m not to able to sit for long.I’m feeling sore,tired and in pain.Taking pain killers as advised and it’s helping.lot of restrictions ( no bending,pushing,lifting).Honestly it’s hard for me to ask for help but my body is very delicate now and I cannot afford to mess with my recovery.so taking it very slow….thank you all for your support.
posted by SunPower at 6:07 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


SunPower, I have reported your hospital for dereliction of pie. Although I must admit ice cream is an excellent choice.

I'm so glad the surgery is complete and I hope you are feeling comfortable very soon.
posted by mochapickle at 7:25 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


Week 10: Hello everyone! It's so nice to see the camaraderie of our group! SunPower, I am so happy you are doing well! mochapickle, I hope you are benefiting from chapter 10! A hearty hello to probably not that Karen Blair!

Chapter 10 did not resonate with me very much. It is very work-centric and I don't have a job or a creative way to sub something else for "work". So the essays were not very helpful, although I did enjoy the Creative U-Turns concept once I realized that I have a few. I even hung one on the wall of my craft closet/altar space (the folklore bridges DYMO) as both a reminder that it's a u-turn and to be able to look at it instead of keeping it in a bag.

I did morning pages every day. I did a few small artist dates. I experienced synchronicity.

I am really enjoying chapter 11 and its essays and exercises. I will probably have more to say next week!
posted by danabanana at 11:38 AM on July 20 [3 favorites]


Week 10: Self-Protection (epilogue)

I'm glad I gave Week 10 the extra time. I'm not working full time just yet, but reviewing this chapter, particularly the second half of the chapter, reminded me how things were back when I was working a lot, and how it became easy to focus more on my job than on creative work. So as I take on more projects, I think I'll revisit this chapter again as a refresher.

One thing this chapter did inspire me to do is set up a separate, proper office space. I'm usually at the dining room table. My work (writing, editing, computery stuff) and my writing work involve similar postures and use identical tools, so there's not that much of a boundary between them. So I've decided that maybe doing different work in different locations would help me keep the two apart.

The spare room had been set up as a kind of guest room and library, but it mostly sits empty as I don't have a lot of guests. So I've pushed the daybed to the wall and moved in a big table from the garage as a desk. There's good light coming in from the western window. I have a lamp, and a big monitor, and an external keyboard set up. When my work is done for the day, I'll turn off the lamp and shut down the day job, office-y part of my brain. At least, that's the idea.

So today means organizing that room. That loud scooting sound you hear from somewhere near the Rockies is me moving bookshelves.

Hope everyone's doing well -- healing, thinking, working, creating.

I'm in the mood for the next topic: Autonomy. On to Week 11!
posted by mochapickle at 12:00 PM on July 24 [3 favorites]


Hello everybody.Thank you all for your well wishes.It’s been 2 weeks since I had my surgery and I’m overall feeling much better.I didn’t write my morning pages this two weeks as I was tired most of the time.Had my appointment with my doc .he feels that everything is healing well and he gave me green light to start with light activities slowly.

Update:Week 9:Started writing the morning pages yesterday .I never wanted to read my morning pages.So, I always tore it to pieces after a day or two.But I know by writing it every day, I realized what is stopping me from achieving my best.

Fear is what blocks an artist. The fear of not being good enough. The fear of not finishing. The fear of failure and of success. The fear of beginning at all. There is only one cure for fear. That cure is love.
Use love for your artist to cure its fear.Stop yelling at yourself. Be nice. Call fear by its right name.”


I am a perfectionist and I realized how many things I could have achieved if I was a little more compassionate towards myself.So,my goal from now on is to be gentle on myself ,work on letting go my fear of failure and love my art(whatever small I can make every day).

I’m so glad I ignored the fear and I joined you all in this journey.You are all amazing!!!
posted by SunPower at 7:48 AM on July 29 [4 favorites]


Week 13 Day 1: Hello TAW friends! It's been a while since I checked in, and I am just doing a little update on my progress. I am doing a third pass through chapter 11 this week because I really enjoy it but I have not had the impetus to properly do all the activities. Two weeks ago, I did all my morning pages and I took my altar apart and put it back together with new items. But that's all I did despite wanting to do more. No real artist date that week. This past week found me starting to exercise and making unique daily self-care efforts, but then a heat wave hit and my enthusiasm wilted. Morning pages every day, but no artist date. Tons of synchronicity!

I'm still in the process of detoxing from my meds, and that will be ongoing for another few weeks. The heat wave is due to abate somewhat tomorrow and I hope that will help me get back to exercising and doing creative endeavors. I have read chapter 12 and I want to give it a serious attempt as well, so I will be working on these two chapters until I feel like I have accomplished something that makes me feel that TAW magic.

You are all magical to me! I love our group and the energy we create together. I am continually amazed at how much I have grown, learned, written, and created; reading everyone else's experience is so exciting and inspirational!

I hope everyone is enjoying wherever they are in the book! You are all amazing!
posted by danabanana at 9:05 AM on July 31 [3 favorites]


Week 13, chapter 11:
Hello all! I hope everyone is doing well! I have had a wonderful week doing chapter 11 again. I found the essays and the exercises to be exactly the sort of things I needed at this point in my creative journey. Morning pages continue to clear my mind and get my day going. I spent lots of time in my altar/craft storage closet, moving items around and decorating. I did several artist dates and did self-care every day. I started walking to the mailbox in the early morning before the heat hits, and I also began using my mini trampoline again. Sometimes I do both, sometimes I do neither. But exercise is back in my routine and I am gobsmacked that Julia Cameron has helped effect this change in me (this was one of the items in my inventory of changes...)

I used to push back on so much of the book, and I still think a lot of it needs revision, and I will probably never do a strict weeklong reading restriction again, but I have come to a point where I am embracing the process and thinking of how I might have done it differently if I had done more of the exercises or written my artist prayer or maybe just rolled my eyes a bit less.

So I'm on chapter 12 now and I am very excited to see what it brings! How many weeks will it take me to complete?

Until next time...
posted by danabanana at 9:37 PM on August 7 [3 favorites]



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