The Write Idea


The Artist’s Way Women

Filed under: book review — ljcollins @ 11:07 am
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Last fall I responded to a call one of my neighbors put on FaceBook and joined a group to work through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way:  A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. I bought this book years ago and read through the first few chapters, doing some of the exercises. If you are not familiar with Cameron’s book, each chapter discusses recovering a particular aspect of creativity (from a sense of safety in chapter one to a sense of faith in the final chapter). Cameron includes tasks to complete and throughout the process, she invites readers to maintain two ongoing disciplines (insists on it, really): daily morning pages and weekly artist dates.

In the morning pages we write to clear the brain and open the channels.  Not only are these mental downloads not intended to be read by anyone else, but for the first two months we don’t even look back over our own writing.  The writing can be as inane as needed, reflecting our own crazy monkey minds, flitting from list-making to grudges to boredom and maybe to an occasional creative insight.

The other cornerstone of the work, taking oneself on a weekly artist date, sets the stage for child-like imaginative play to come back into our lives. Going out alone for at least one hour to do something silly, fun, or inspiring reminds us that creativity flourishes in a nurturing environment.

I began these disciplines back when I read the book on my own, but by chapter 4 or 5, my commitment waned.  Then, about five years ago I saw a one-day workshop with Cameron and eagerly signed up.  Maybe if I saw her in person I’d get back in the swing. Loved the workshop.  Not so much on the commitment.

So here came another chance, another invitation.  Join a group of wonderful, like-minded folks and try again.  What a blessing! It took a few weeks before the characters of our group settled in (two left, one joined), but in the end we had five women exploring five different artistic paths:  piano, painting, landscape design, writing and a course of study in a new career in ritual.  Each week we met and checked in.  Had we done the pages, taken ourselves on a date, delved into her recovery tasks?

Last night we met to finish the last chapter.  But none of us are quite ready to be finished.  We loved the accountability, the community and the support we experienced in doing this together.  Several of us decided to go back to chapter one and start over. Since we started months ago, life changes make the weekly meetings no longer realistic for us, but we know we need to find a new structure to touch base and keep this good work going.

What about you?  How do you keep the creative juices flowing? Where do you find support?  Do you need more community around you to nurture your inner artist?  I’d love to hear what works.


  1. I was delightfully surprised at how simple it was to draw together a group of people who want to form a group like this. And valuable in ways I did not expect.

    Comment by Michelle Smith — 02/22/2010 @ 5:07 pm | Reply

  2. Hi! I found you on the Skirt site and am now enjoying your blog. Your essay on your divorce with your husband was beautiful and sad. Ironically, I am having hubby issues. And I was just looking online at Asheville, NC after watching a video about it on youtube. I am of a wandering nature but am currently experiencing the posh married well taken care of life. It’s actually quite difficult for me to remain here in this place and know that I’m not allowed to go anywhere. It doesn’t feel so much like tethering as it feels like an annoying, tugging leash. So, I cruised Asheville Craigslist looking at jobs, then checked out the real estate, then went to skirt to read – and saw Asheville in your first few lines, so I naturally clicked and therein found your incredible, unique story about divorce – of all things – while I’m sitting here surfing Asheville wondering if I’m going to be divorced. Is that serendipitous? Now, I don’t want to be divorced – I’m just afraid of it currently and in awe of the way you and hour husband so lovingly let go.
    All of that and you simply wanted to know about creativity. I did Julia Cameron’s course several years ago – as a guided study. It was wonderful – so wonderful I did it again. Now I’m in an entirely new city and I should probably start my own group and step up to the guide role. Probably. I really loved it – especially when she calls off reading and everyone in the group gets defensive and freaks out, “I can’t possibly not read!!” But that’s the week I clean out closets and re-organize shelves and such.
    Going on and on here in your blog. Thanks for keeping this blog up – it’s really lovely. I’ll be visiting now and then if you don’t mind. My blog is newly re-opened. I can’t seem to keep my blog outfit on – I keep throwing it off, then changing it, etc. Just like my wandering in real life, it’s hard to stick to one blog. HA!!! I’ll just wander over here and off to there and otherwise try to keep steady.

    Comment by Kristin — 04/06/2010 @ 6:34 pm | Reply

  3. Welcome, Kristin. Glad you found me. Sorry it took me a while to respond — been out of town. Asheville is a wonderful place, but employment here is a tough issue. Hope you and your hubby find ways to work through stuff. Relationships, huh? Yes, I was one of those who freaked out about not reading and then found it wasn’t as horrible as I expected. This isn’t my first blog, either, so I know what you mean. Cheers!

    Comment by ljcollins — 04/08/2010 @ 10:01 pm | Reply

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