Summary of the book “the Artist’s Way”: The author Julia Cameron offers a great 12-week course to achieve more creativity in your life, to free yourselves from all inhibitions … and, above all, to achieve your dreams!
By Julia Cameron, 2007, 340 pages.
Note: This is a guest column written by lesvaillantes.com the site devoted to women and their projects. Les Vaillantes covers topics such as careers, money, feeling good, magic (sometimes) and most of all female empowerment. In short, cool stuff!
What are the 10 important principles of the book the Artist’s Way
- Creativity is what life is all about. Life is pure creative energy.
- There is a basic creative force that dwells within all forms of life.
- When you embrace your creativity, you embrace the creativeness of what is inside of you and around you.
- Everyone has been created. And, in turn, must continue this process to be creative.
- Creativity is a gift from life (or the Universe). If you use your creativity it is a gift you give to life.
- A refusal to be creative goes against your true nature.
- When you allow yourselves to explore your creativity, you open yourselves up to spiritual forces.
- As you learn to embrace your creativity, there will be many other small but powerful changes to come.
- It is a smart move to become increasingly open to creativity.
- Your creative dreams and desires come from a spiritual source. As you move toward your dreams, you get closer to your most spiritual self.
Review and summary of “the Artist’s Way:
“the Artist’s Way” offers you a great 12-week program to help remove hang-ups, bad habits and inhibitions to reconnect with your “Creative Self” and silence your “Rational Self”.
Author Julia Cameron is a teacher, artist, novelist, poet, playwright, film director and journalist (no less)! Most notably, for many years she has coached her students to unlock their creativity.
In this book, she serves the role of a life coach and suggests that you allow yourself one hour a day, for 12 weeks, to implement the creative exercises that she has developed to help you release your inner creative spirit.
Why is this the book for you?
In the book the Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron presents you with the tools to unlock your creativity… But not only that! This book isn’t purely for those who are creative, it is applicable (and beneficial) to everyone.
If you already live the life of your dreams and have fulfilled all your childhood dreams … then you’d might as well (possibly – that’s debatable) ignore it and not bother to read it. However, if not, this is the summary…
Some important principles to bear in mind:
First of all, the Artist’s Way is a valuable book because it gives you the opportunity to become the person you’ve always dreamed to be … with the application of just 10 principles!
Julia immerses you in the discovery of the “Creative Self” and, to achieve that, she makes you work on your hang-ups, inhibitions, and bad habits. It feels great! And above all, you unleash an invaluable vitality and creativity that allows you to achieve your plans, dreams, and many other things.
1. Creativity = Spirituality
For Julia Cameron, life is about pure creative energy and creativity is a spiritual experience. Here, (be assured) Julia does not ask you to hold any specific beliefs … but rather to be open-minded and consider that there is a powerful creative process in the Universe. She speaks of the “Great Creator”, but call it whatever you like: Universe, Flow, Energy, God, Goddess, Spirit…
She explains that once you decide to let go and work on your creativity, the Universe begins to help you with your creative quest.
And of course, this positive message is much appreciated!
2. The morning pages
We loved the “morning pages” exercise.
Julia suggests that you write your “morning pages” each day, allow your thoughts to flow freely, without any restrictions. The idea of the “morning pages” is to clear your mind so that things seem clearer. You write down your dreams, your aspirations, your hopes.
How do you do it?
The principle is simple: Each day, before you start daily chores and work, write three pages where you let you thoughts run free.
It’s a daily ramble, a form of written meditation, an exercise in “creative reclamation” that stirs up and releases a lot of stuff.
No, this process is definitely not just for the J.K Rowling’s of this world… absolutely anyone can do it.
Besides, the “morning pages” are not only a way to unleash your creativity, they also help you to see practical solutions to everyday problems.
Quite honestly, it makes you feel really good!
If you lack inspiration?
That’s okay… just write whatever comes into your head.
An alternative, if you want one, is to answer these questions:
- “How do I feel today?”
- “How do I want to feel today?”
- “What did I dream about last night?”
Why do we love it?
Because this routine changes everything in your life!
Every morning when you wake up, even before you put your feet on the floor, you learn to love to write these three morning pages in your (magic) notebook. There’s no need to think, the words don’t always make sense, you mention things from the past or in the future, you ask yourself questions, you start a story … it really doesn’t matter. The important thing is to handwrite it, with no thoughts, no limits. The advantage to do it at this time of day is that you tend to be less restrictive with yourself.
This routine is definitely not reserved just for those who have a talent for the written word or who write on a regular basis, it works for everyone… In fact, it’s very similar to meditation.
- The great thing about morning pages is that they wake you up and energize you for the day!
- If you write down any questions, concerns and uncertainties on paper, it means that is where they will stay, rather than you carry them with you the whole day.
- If you write each day, you will find the answers to your own questions (this is totally true: the answer already lies within you)!
- It’s a cliché, but true: you become your best friend because it’s a great way to get to know yourself.
- You learn so much about yourself: what motivates or holds you back, what you want to say but are inclined not to…
- The morning pages encourage you to take that first step (towards your dream life)!
And to help you take that first step towards the life of your dreams, here are 2 awesome techniques to put to use immediately.
3. The artist’s meetings
We loved the “artist meetings”.
Julia suggests that each week you set aside 2 hours to nurture the artist within you. Recharge your creative batteries and go to an exhibition, a concert or visit a gallery, alone, or maybe take a walk alone in the forest or in a park … In short, what Julia suggests is that you give yourself some time, for yourself. And we totally agree!
These are the 3 indispensable daily strategies to make time for yourself and be Zen.
So, every week, set aside that little moment that will be so beneficial for you. Block off some time for this moment in your diary, to nurture both your creative spirit and the artist in you.
Do something fun, that you enjoy, anywhere, in the forest, at the beach, in the city … go to see an exhibition, visit a gallery, basically, anything that makes you feel good. Most importantly, you should open your eyes wide to “feed your creative juices”. Do it alone, because an artist needs solitude and seclusion to recharge their creative energy.
Why do we love it?
- First, creative outings allow you to change your limited and harsh view of your creative abilities into one that shows more appreciation of your own creative work.
- Make sure that you take the time to do things purely for yourself and by yourself.
- In addition to this, you discover new places as you wander around.
- You arrange to meet new people (which is much easier to do when you are alone, rather than with other people!)
- And above all, you gain independence and self-confidence.
These two things, the morning pages and creative visits, act as the foundations for your creativity to be unleashed.
4. The ghost artists
Julia explains that many shy artists give up their creative dreams to appease those around them. As Pablo Picasso said, “All children are artists. The problem is to remain an artist when you are an adult. How many parents tell their children to live a more settled life, a more normal life… Maybe this happened with you? This is what leads to the creation of ghost artists.
Due to fear of failure or to be taken too seriously and laughed at, ghost artists feel that they have not fulfilled their creative promise in life, which results in frustration and regret.
Come on, it’s never too late to begin your creative journey!
5. The internal censor
Julia, mentions the internal censor.
She explains that the internal censor always delivers a stream of negative remarks and detests anything that resembles self-love.
So, your inner censor serves as a source of constant criticism…
Stop. Write down these thoughts in your morning pages. Where do your fears, your insecurities come from? A teacher? A parent? The more you articulate it, the more you will be able to recognize it, the more the censor’s voice will diminish … within you and over your creativity!
6. Sabotage of the killjoys
Your inner artist is like a child who needs to be taken care of.
So, a negative environment can stunt the growth of the artist in you.
So be alert to this negativity (not always intentional) on the part of the killjoys, your opposition to change and detachment from it.
An easy exercise to identify the “good” from the “bad” people is to take a BIG sheet of paper and write down all the names of your close friends, family, acquaintances, co-workers, etc. Basically, all those who you come into contact with regularly and irregularly. Next to each name, ask yourself this question: “Does this person make me feel good” (is positive, makes me smile, makes me laugh, etc.): You simply answer with yes or no.
So, from there on in, don’t waste your time with those who are negative and spend more of your time with the ones who make you feel good!
7. Have fun and say yes!
In this section, Julia encourages you to always remain curious, no matter what, as long as you are alive. If you embrace this attitude to explore and discover things and say YES to opportunities, anything can happen!
So, let your creativity flood out and enjoy yourself.
As a rule of thumb, if you write down all the things you’d like to do in your morning pages (yoga, sing, dance, ride a pony, etc.), you’ll remove the obstacles that hold you back from it. YES, it works!
8. Your dream scenario
In this section, Julia proposes that you assemble a set of images to represent your dream life, the things you would like to have, the people you would aspire to be like, those who inspire you… and then collate them into a collage.
Actually, what she really means is that you should create a visualization board.
Because there is definitely a positive effect that has been extensively tested and proven: the effect of visualization. To visualize a result as accurately as possible (in this case the dream scenario that you want to achieve) allows you to make it attainable and convince your psyche that it is real and achievable.
So, if you create a visualization chart, a dream file (or whatever you want to call it), which depicts your fantasy life, it will help you to visualize these dreams in a practical way, and ultimately it will help you to achieve them.
How do you do it?
Stick pictures, stickers, glitter I am 7 years old … everything is permitted! So, if your dream is to live by the ocean in Los Angeles and to become a professional surfer, stick on pictures of L.A., palm trees, surf spots, surfers you admire, etc.
Then, hang up your wonderful collage. Place it somewhere that is easy to see and that you will see as often as possible: your desk, in your calendar, next to your bed…
9. Synchronicity kicks in
When you allow yourself to embrace your creativity, it opens the door of opportunity that has been given to you by the “Great Creator”. You instantly experience a magical sequence of events that help you with your creative project… This is what she calls synchronicity (I recommend you read my review of Wayne Dyer’s book The Power of Intention): the Universe provides you with the necessary help to stay motivated and keep on track.
So, (and in our opinion) nothing is more logical … when you work on yourself, when you take your leap of faith, when you start up your engine: you simply “open” your eyes. And you “see” the solutions, the help, the magic … that you missed beforehand.
10. Perfectionism (what a dirty word)!
Stop. Just stop everything. At least we will stop it. We will never repeat it: the best is the enemy of good!
Julia’s opinion, quite rightly, is that perfectionism is a dirty word.
It means that you can’t advance because you concentrate on the small details, while fear will hold you back from the launch of your project. A true “perfectionist” will never complete their projects – because they will never be good enough to be shown, published, revealed…
Come on, do not hesitate to make mistakes, to gradually move forward, to begin again…
The key is to DO.
Conclusion on “the Artist’s Way”
A genuine self-help program that acts as a “life coach”!
In conclusion, the Artist’s Way acts as a genuine life coach with its 12-week program. You can follow it at your own pace.
It is full of exercises and tips to overcome your hang-ups, to dream and make those dreams happen … and, as the title indicates, to let your creative spirit run free! So obviously, we loved it!
In fact, we tried all the exercises … or almost all.
For us, the “morning pages” are the most invaluable and beneficial resource. They have become a routine that we have incorporated seamlessly into our lives and that we intend to maintain forever.
We also liked the “Artist’s Rendezvous” which helped us appreciate that to take time for ourselves is essential!
We could continue, but we’ll let you explore and enjoy it. the Artist’s Way will change you in many ways. But it’s not drastic, it’s subtle, and most importantly it’s only after 12 weeks that you realize that some of the small things have changed for good. It may not be the same for you. But, for sure, you won’t come out of it unchanged.
Finally, run to Fnac, order it on Amazon, borrow it from the library … whatever your choice is, but get this little book that will make you feel great! Don’t forget to tell us if you like the things we share with you! Yes, it always pleases us when you send us love with your comments. We read everything, we like everything, we answer everything.
- To start with, it feels great to let loose on your morning pages! For example, when you need some motivation, it gives you a lift! When you are angry, these pages allow you to let go. Or if you feel confused, it helps you understand more clearly … you get the idea, it’s awesome.
- The morning pages help you to be aware and to articulate what your hang-ups are. And as no one else is allowed to read them, you can really be yourself, express yourself freely, without any filter. When you write, you free yourself and find the answers to your problems along the way… as if by magic! In fact, you let go of a lot of things…that sometimes have nothing to do with art!
- Just like Twyla Tharp with her book The Creative Habit, Julia Cameron proposes practical solutions to allow your imagination to flourish.
- Your dreams are much clearer. It allows you to connect with your subconscious. Another way to see more clearly, in our opinion.
- You develop an eye for detail, you appreciate the little things in life. It may be a bit corny, but it helps in daily life.
- You develop an appreciation for the simple things you love (shoes, madeleines, beautiful notebooks…)
- The outcome is that you now have an excuse to take care of yourself (if you need one)!
- However, there is one thing that may slow you down, God. Julia Cameron talks about God, a lot, in the book. Julia Cameron is a believer and that is a big part of her process. But at the start of the book, she suggests that you substitute God with some higher power that you can believe in: the Universe, nature, your own inspiration. It doesn’t matter. So when she refers to God, you know that it is in relation to the entity that you trust in. We chose ‘the Universe’.
- Sometimes, she talks in a rather antiquated way … the French translation is not great. So, we advise you to read the original version (English), which is called the Artist’s Way. Nb. No need to be bilingual.
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