05 February 2010

Coffee-Stained Pages: The Artist's Way

I've started working through The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron this week.

A friend and fellow writer, Shannon, told me she was starting it this week.  I've had the book for years and have never done it, so I agreed to go through it with her.

This isn't like the other books I've read on writing. Those books are read.  This one is worked.  It's laid out like a course: each week begins with a reading, and you're given tasks to complete during the week before your check-in at the end.

One of the key components of the process is morning pages.  During the course of going through the book, you commit to three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing, long-hand, every day.  The idea is to let your mind go where it wants to and get out your negative, restricting, and distracting thoughts out of your mind before you sit down to get work done.

But this process is more than making sure you write every day or improving your writing habits.  It's about opening yourself up to God, the universe, or whatever there is that's bigger than you, and using that spiritual connection to tap into your creativity.  It's not asking you believe in God or anything else, but just that you're open to the process of spiritual creativity, and the method in the book.  Whether your spirituality breeds your creativity or your creativity breeds your spirituality, this book reveals that the two go hand-in-hand.

Here is what Cameron says about her use of the term "God" in The Artist's Way:
Because The Artist's Way is, in essence, a spiritual path, initiated and practiced through creativity, this book uses the word God. This may be volatile for some of you [...]. Please be open-minded.
Remind yourself that to succeed in this course, no god concept is necessary. In fact, many of our commonly held god concepts get in the way [...].
When the word God is used in these pages, you may substitute the thought good orderly direction or flow. What we are talking about is a creative energy. God is useful shorthand for many of us, but so is Goddess, Mind, Universe, Source, and Higher Power.... The point is not what you name it. The point is that you try using it. For many of us, thinking of it as a form of spiritual electricity has been a very useful jumping-off place.

Here are the basic spiritual principles Cameron uses in the book.

  1. Creativity is the natural order of life. Life is energy: pure creative energy.
  2. There is an underlying, in-dwelling creative force infusing all of life--including ourselves.
  3. When we open ourselves to our creativity, we open ourselves to the creator's creativity within us and our lives.
  4. We are, ourselves, creations. And we, in turn, are meant to continue creativity by being creative ourselves.
  5. Creativity is God's gift to us. Using our creativity is our gift back to God.
  6. The refusal to be creative is self-will and is counter to our true nature.
  7. When we open ourselves to exploring our creativity, we open ourselves to God: good orderly direction.
  8. As we open our creative channel to the creator, many gentle but powerful changes are to be expected.
  9. It is safe to open ourselves up to greater and greater creativity.
  10. Our creative dreams and yearnings come from a divine source. As we move toward our dreams, we move toward our divinity.

It's very early in the process, so it's too early to tell how it's going, but I'm hopeful about the next twelve weeks.  I've already enjoyed doing the morning pages, and the tasks I've completed have gotten my mind working in a creative direction.  I find it much easier to get into the flow of writing work after writing morning pages.  I'm able to get the "junk" out of my head first.

Has anyone else completed The Artist's Way?  What did you think?  Are you going through it now?  How's it going?


  1. Congratulations on your Artist's Way journey. Keep it up. You will surely reap rewards that are even beyond what you can currently dream. The course is just about the best thing I've ever done for myself. I'm delighted to read about your journey.


Add a little caffeine to my life...