I’m sure that most people have heard of the book, The Artist’s Way (link to the copy I bought on Amazon)…at least people in the creative arts field. It seems to come up all the time and it’s no surprise, since more than 2 million copies have been sold…printed in 30+ languages all over the world. Most of the artists and bloggers out there have mentioned it being in their library and it has been recommended more than once to me.
I kept hearing about it…this guide to embracing your creativity and how it’s a must read. I have to admit that I didn’t really look into much at first, but then the title kept popping up in conversation, in passing, in recommendation by people I really admire. So I was constantly reminded of the book and at some point went ahead and ordered it online. Of course, I have the bad habit of ordering books immediately, with that rush of excitement and spark. But taking forever to actually get to reading them. Oops.
I obviously should learn some more self-control! But I love reading.. getting lost into a different world… and in nowadays I really enjoy self-help books. It’s taken me a while to actually start, but I am finally reading through The Artist’s Way.
I’m making the commitment to myself to get through the 12 weeks of chapters (theory+practice). I suppose that is why I’m blogging about it.
Saturdays will be my check-in days, to record my thoughts, reflect on my learnings and keep myself accountable, most of all. At the same time, I like the idea of sharing my experience, in hope that others might be inspired, might be aided in some way.
When I read the introduction, I honestly felt super uncomfortable. I had obviously not looked into the details of the book before making the purchase…an aspect I miss about actually going into a bookstore and flipping through a book before buying. Of course, the subtitle “Creativity as a Spiritual Practice” should have registered with me in some way. Cameron writes from a spiritual perspective referring to the Creator at times, even if the book is practical in the sense of teaching a course with practical exercises and tips/tools. For some reason, I had just not expected all the talk of spirituality and it sort of freaked me out. Umm, maybe I made a mistake. Just listening to the masses again, thinking I have to do what they do. Ugh. I’m just a sheep in the herd.
I kept reading and realized that I’ve always been a bit uncomfortable with spiritual-esque talk, because I grew up in a different type of atmosphere.
But I’ve come to realize that we all find faith in our own way, whether in an organized group or going solo. Because I don’t hear it often in conversation, mentioning God and referring to Him sort of rings an extra bell for me…it’s just a different thing I’m not used to. I was determined to work through it though…I didn’t want to give up. Cameron sort of addresses my concerns when she writes that she is not asking me to believe in this or that… she see’s creativity as a spiritual experience, so obviously she is writing about it from her perspective.
As I continued to read, I started feeling like she knew exactly how I felt. The examples she brought up and issues a creative will face…yup, that’s me.
I really love how she wrote that “even if we look like functioning artists to the world, we feel we never do enough and what we do isn’t right.” Yes, yes! That’s how I feel! And the fears that we face…those hideous thoughts like “If you haven’t done it by now you never will…” – yes, they do plague my minds at times.
When someone is able to articulate your same feelings so well, you relate to them, acknowledge them and usually end up listening for more. I was also really touched by Cameron’s personal story of how and why she started down the artist’s way. She was a creative that was already amazingly successfully, but she realized that her life was a torturous chain of ups and downs. Creativity came and went and it was a painful existence. From necessity, she had to find a new creative path and it gives me hope to know that there are successful creative people out there that aren’t tortured artists! I can take a look at my journey and see glimmering points, but also lots of low, frustrating canyons of despair. Does the creative life really have to be this crazy imbalanced rocky road? I really wish it did not have to be. I want to nurture my creative side, but also live a nice simple, calm life. Seriously, I’m boring like that… in the sense that I don’t think it’s boring. I think it’s fine and dandy, darn it!
She wrote that we often resist what we most need…more words that convinced me to read onward.
As I continued, I also realized how easy the book is to read…page by page. Talk about a turnaround. I read up through the first week’s lesson and was optimistic. And to think I might not have bought this book, were I to have read the introduction at the bookstore…probably would have been scared away. I guess that is why sometimes you give people books as gifts…it’s that one step closer to getting them to pick it up and flip through!
So, feeling like I had been opened up to a new world, the first week of morning pages went by pretty easily. I had no issues writing stream of consciousness by hand, every morning. Rambling on as I do in my mind anyway. I had certainly heard of morning pages before…everyone talks about it, eh? I thought I understood what it was all about, but you get a much clearer picture when reading the book. Why you really need to do them, dare I say religiously. And so far, it has helped. It’s like venting…at least for me it is right now. Maybe I’m just riding on the high of the beginnings of a project? We’ll have to wait and see.
I wrote every morning and although sometimes it wasn’t the first thing I did – got to take the puppy out and let everyone get ready and go off on their day. But then the house was quiet and I was able to write away…before continuing my day as normal. It really doesn’t take long and I feel better. I suppose it’s like talking to a good friend about things, but with morning pages you are talking to yourself or whoever…but no one ever has to know and you never have to read it again either. Sort of nice to have that outlet.
The outings prove a bit harder for me to get to, since I’m pretty much at home and in this neighborhood all the time. I don’t drive here in Italy (not yet) and don’t really get out that much by myself. The only exception is walking my puppy. Since I’ve had Vash, I’ve noticed how nice it is for me to just get out and take a walk. I’ve been forced to do it, but it’s been a good thing. So more than anything else specific…I just take walks, sometimes take my camera to enjoy some photography and have a relaxing time outdoors. I understand the idea of artist dates…so perhaps I will just have to get creative in terms of nurturing my artist self. There are many ways to do it…
So after the first week, I feel like I’ve done a 180 from my original impression of the book. Although I understand that not everything works for everyone…learning new things is always beneficial. You take what you can from the lesson and apply it to your own unique situation and life. I know that people seen to either love this book or hate it. I feel that I will be able to learn and grow from this book, so I’m moving on ahead with it. I’m grateful to be able to have this book and to have the time to work through it. So I’m optimistic.