Lessons from The Artist’s Way
When people hear that I teach courses that combine Creativity and Spirituality they often remark; ‘Oh, you must have been inspired by The Artist’s Way!’
I started hearing about this remarkable book and the movement birthed by Julia Cameron in the early nineties. I was living in New York.
The Artist’s Way was the buzz on every creative person’s lips.
At that moment in time, I was a busy young executive. I was years away from understanding my creative self that would finally emerge a few years later.
My artist sister, Teresa, read it and became a devotee of Cameron’s. In 1996 she joined an online Artist’s Way group and met people from all over the world. One man, in particular, stood out to her; a photographer who resonated with her words and liked what she posted. A kindred spirit who is now her husband. They now live in Santa Fe (Cameron’s hometown).
So, based on Teresa’s experience and the rave reviews from so many of my creative friends, I always intended to read Julia Cameron’s book.
This summer I finally read The Artist’s Way. And now I ask myself; why did I wait thirty years to find this treasure?
If you have never read her book, the core premise is something I constantly preach; we are all creative. Whether you find your creativity through cooking, writing, dancing, painting, photography, decorating, or artfully living life, her book is packed with inspiration.
Cameron suggests some regular practices using tools to unlock creativity. One of the tools is something she calls ‘Morning Pages.’
She prescribes three pages of longhand, stream-of-consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning.
These private morning pages can be about anything. There is freedom in not sharing them with anyone else. Cameron explains; ‘Morning Pages empower us and give us clarity, helping us to find tiny choice points in the day ahead.’ They also provide a sense of optimism and adventure.
Without knowing I was following one of Julia Cameron’s prescribed practices, I wrote morning pages for one year just as I retired from corporate life.
For me, writing these pages was like going to therapy. I committed to cataloging everything honestly. To examine my true feelings about this major life transition. The experience was life-changing for me and a few years later, much of what was in those pages showed up in my book Vision Quest; a journey to happiness.
Writing is a wonderful way to express yourself. I know from my own experience that writing helps me articulate and understand my emotions. This helps me identify where stressors are coming from and when I might be exaggerating reality.
Writing is also a mindfulness exercise. It centers you and keeps you focused on this moment.
Another innovative tool prescribed by Cameron is ‘Artist Dates.’
If you are one of her students, you are asked to make a contract with yourself to commit to this gift of self-time.
On finally reading the book, I committed to my Artist Dates by dedicating one of my small art journals for my pages. Lists are now starting to fill my pages, inspired by Cameron’s book.
I made a list of things I would love to do but have not yet made time for.
Cameron suggests twenty things, but my list is long. It’s mostly made up of artistic methods I want to try, new mediums and materials, museums I am yearning to visit, and spiritual sites I have always wanted to see.
In addition, following her direction, I made a list of ten tiny changes I would like to make in my life.
Small things I’ve been intending to do, learn or try. My list contains things my left brain might call silly, such as ironing all my cloth napkins and placemats. Things my introverted self keeps putting off like inviting my neighbors over to play in the paint. Yoga poses I want to master.
Cameron wrote a timely blog article during the pandemic suggesting ways to take yourself on an Artists’s Date even while quarantining at home.
You don’t need to leave home to take yourself on an Artist’s Date. Experimenting with new things can give you a sense of adventure. Try music or a podcast that you wouldn’t usually listen to. Play with a new craft. Reading children’s books, baking a cake, or making a vision board can expand our horizons.
What are things you’ve been meaning to learn or do or try? Make a list.
Cameron explains that if you are intrigued by something; if you have a deep desire to experiment in something unknown, or even if you have some knowledge but want to learn more, you are flexing your creative muscles without even knowing.
Now, inspired by The Artist’s Way, I look for windows of time and use them to take small creative actions. I think of these as Artist Dates.
Making a Zentangle or Mandala for my art journal. Trying my hand at drawing a face. Even if I only have fifteen minutes I find these little bursts of creativity elicit joy and spur even more creativity.
Trying something new gives me a sense of freedom and adventure.
The idea of focusing on daily self-expression dovetails perfectly with what I urge my students to do. I encourage my students to think about their daily spiritual practices. If your daily practices include meditation or some form of creative self-expression, these practices will help you stay connected to your own inner wisdom.
You might argue that you don’t think of yourself as creative. I encourage you to begin to think of yourself as a creative being.
Creativity is a birthright of being human.
As I read The Artist’s Way, it’s clear that my beliefs line up with Julia Cameron’s. The way I combine spirituality and creativity in my SoulArt courses is not new. Cameron did ground-breaking work on this very successfully.
She explains that creativity is a spiritual fact of our very human DNA. She says: ‘we are all creative, and through the use of a few simple tools, we can become more creative in all areas of our life.’
“The connection between creativity and spirituality is profound. If you work on your spirituality, you will increase your creativity. If you work on your creativity, you will increase your spirituality.”Julia Cameron
Find out more about my journey through my book on Amazon: Vision Quest; A Journey to Happiness by Jane Ramsey.
Watch my YouTube video about freeing your inner artist.
To learn more about Chakras read the Blog below:
Practice gentle chakra tuning
Interested in the Universal Laws? The Blogs for each of the 12 Laws are found below:
1. Divine Oneness here.
2. Vibration here.
3. Correspondence here.
4. Attraction here.
5. Inspired Action here.
6. Perpetual Transmutation of Energy here.
7. Cause and Effect here.
8. Compensation here.
9. Relativity here.
10. Polarity here.
11. Rhythm here.
12. Gender here
Find out more about Jane Ramsey