It continues to surprise me. Many are familiar with the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron but they still haven’t explored it as a life-changing resource.
I fell into that category for about five years. I simply thought the word “artist” in the title meant I had to be a sculptor or cake decorator or street graffiti artist for it to be relevant – so I never picked it up. But then I finally did. And boy, do I wish someone had enlightened me sooner – to have corrected my mindset about the book.
Here’s the deal – we are ALL artists, creative in some way or another. I am a writer. I am an artist. Fill in your blank here: I am a _. Yes, you are an artist too. Skeptical? Well, The Artist’s Way is a course in discovering and recovering your creative self. Within its pages resides a process that can help you live a more fulfilling, purpose-driven life. Period.
Julia’s book was first published in 1992. That’s thirty years ago, friends, and it is still in mass circulation. It has staying power for a reason. It’s not just about becoming more creative.
Its content is spot on for helping to identify what is holding you back (not just in your “art”, but in life), and then showing you how to move forward. I recommend picking up a copy. The 25th Anniversary Edition is the version I bought here. Or simply check out a copy from your local library for free. Just promise to bump it high up on your reading list. You won’t be sorry.
The most valuable component of The Artist’s Way for me has been what Julia calls Morning Pages. The premise is this – each morning, before doing anything else – yes, you can grab your cup of coffee or favorite beverage first – you complete three pages of stream of conscious writing. By hand. Every day. I know, some of you are thinking: “I don’t have time for this,” or “I’m too busy.” Well folks – we make time for things that are important to us.
Others might be thinking: “I don’t like to write.” “I’m not a writer.” “There’s no way I can fill three pages since I hate writing.” Nope, none of these are valid reasons either. Why? Because even if you sit in front of your three pages and write, “I don’t know what to write but that mean blog lady told me to sit here and fill three pages,” over and over again on the lines until your three pages (single-sided) are filled, you will find value. Don’t believe me? Try it and prove me wrong.
You will eventually get so bored with writing the same words that you will write something else. Ok, you may move on to write, “We’re out of pet food and I need to buy more,” but that’s fine too – you will eventually make progress with the Morning Pages process and write something more meaningful. The goal right now is to just get started.
Stream of conscious writing is not a timed exercise, nor are correct punctuation, spelling and grammar required. Some of you may finish in fifteen minutes. Others may take longer. The only criteria is that you write whatever comes to mind until you’ve filled three pages. By hand (no computers). Every day. And no mini-sized journal trickery here! We’re talking 8 1/2 x 11 size sheets, although close to that size is good enough in my opinion. I personally use an inexpensive composition notebook, college-ruled, available at many stores. But feel free to use whatever format speaks to you – maybe even the random journal you received as a gift two years ago that you’ve been wondering what the heck to do with!
This writing process not only helps clear the cobwebs from your mind before the busy day starts, but your partner, roommate, sibling, child, neighbor – whoever you see early in the day – will also appreciate your Morning Pages routine because you will soon find that the pages receive your rants instead of them. They can thank me later.
After a few weeks of doing Morning Pages (yes, you will make it that far because you’ll be enjoying them so much), you will see that the magic occurs around page one and a half. That’s when you’ve passed beyond the petty rants of your groggy, still-waking-up mind and are closer to your subconscious. This is where you can get more in touch with your personal goals, to see where you’d like your life path to go – and sometimes even realize that a goal you thought you wanted really isn’t one at all.
Better to realize that sooner rather than later, right?
After week eight (yes, you will make it that far because you’ll still be enjoying Morning Pages and now wondering why you didn’t start them sooner), you will go back and read your pages, highlighting insights with one colored pen and actions with another color. You’ll then review those highlights (Julia says to consider them a map) and take them in as information. I’ve found this step to be where meaningful life change occurs.
It’s a beautiful process.
Please read Julia’s book in its entirety, though – to fully understand her 12-week program and get the most from her tried-and-true philosophy. Just give it a whirl, and please start sooner than five years from now. Avoid my mistake.
Most importantly, enjoy tapping more deeply into your creative side. And how exciting to think that living your best life could be just a few short weeks away!
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