The Artist's Way, 3/20 of #93

Completed: September 23, 2006.

On my list of 20 books that I want to read, #20 is "1 non fiction workbook (like the Artist’s Way)". Well how much more like the Artist's Way can you get than the *actual* Artist's Way?

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron

My first morning pages appears to be dated June 16, 2006.

I was really hoping to post of the amazing transformation and positive experience of this book, but that would not be the truth. I did have both of these things during the process but on the whole it was a little harder and harsher than I expected. I also didn't go 12 weeks straight, I had to carry over 2x and somewhere in the middle I got a lot less diligent on doing the exercise. From doing all of them, to some of them, to reading about them and thinking I'd do them later, to skimming them.

What I loved:
-I love love love doing my morning pages. Monday to Friday during my break at work that is. Doing them on the weekend is like pulling teeth I'm considering just doing Mon-Fri and calling it that. But I fully intent to keep up this practice, I find it really brings calm to my day. Everyone at work thinks I'm a writer now though....
-Synchronicity. She is so right on this one. Put something out there and it will come back. I had this happen on more than one occasion.
-Ideas. It really got the brain going. I was coming up with all kinds of stuff.
-Artist Dates. Fun fun fun. I kinda copped out on this 1/2 way through and did them about every other week. I also often said I was going on one when I went to the movies, but since I do that all the time I think it has to be a very particular experience to be included. Some of my favorite ones were going to a coffee shop to read the newspaper, and going to the library (thanks Caroline for this suggestion).

Then there is the other side of things:
-Terminology. I got really tired/stuck on having to re-phrase words to fit my belief system.
God to The Universe or God & Goddess, and I absolutely can't stand the term Inner Child. I used Mischiveous Spirit, but I have such a negative response to the term Inner Child it almost didn't matter. I discovered the root of that, but unfortunely it didn't resolve my reaction to it.
-Not having the common experience. Every example given I had to shift. I am not un-used to this though as I tend to be in a unique situation. I also found out that with most of thing related to artistic blocks in the past, I'm my biggest critic. I went to art school, my work was generally well received, I've had an art show, and my work displayed before. Not oodles and oodles of time, but my CV wouldn't be blank.
-Affirmations. Again, these tended to be really religious. Yes, you can change the terminology but it doesn't feel the same. I know these can and are a great tool, but I've never gotten them to stick with me. I read somewhere that you have to believe them for them to work and I think that is true. This leads to where I can show you my turning point:


Up in the top middle is probably the last exercise I did. It was to write out and display an affirmation and post it somewhere prominent so I did. I didn't like the wording, I didn't like how it turned out, I don't know if I even believed it but I decided to do it anyway. I ended up leaving it there for a while then eventually taking it down and ripping it up. I can't read it (which is ironic) but its something about taking care of yourself or treating yourself as precious makes you strong.


Of course in retrospect I see some things that wave like huge red flags and I'm shocked that I missed. Going through this process, I never picked an art to focus on. I never even looked for my paints. I drew a few times, and I wrote a whole bunch. I've never doubted myself as an artist either. I'm left confused, but I know that going through this book can be a wonderful experience. I do intend to try it again one day, as my friend Danette said you could do it every year if you wanted to, and maybe I will.

I really hope this post will not discourage anyone (including myself!) from going on this journey. It is a lot about being there, showing up, trying new things and being open. I got my foot out the door this time, but somewhere along the line I think I started to phone it in. There is always hope for next time though. 'Til then its back to my morning pages.

Return to my List of 20 books.

Return to my 101 list.

Return to Planet Shannon.

* Sadly, the images accompanying this post has disappeared over the years.


Potato Print said…
Hi Shannon,
I'm glad that my insomnia led me to your page tonight (or this morning -- whatever 3:00 a.m. is).

What an eloquent rendering of your thoughts on the Artist's Way. I didn't realize that you went to art school. I would like to hear more about that.

So I concur with you on so many of your points. I did the Artist's Way on my own after following the bloggers last spring. I really had high expectations, based on the excitement expressed by the AW bloggers.

I certainly experienced some insights and some special moments, but the book did not illuminate me. The biggest disappointment was at the end when I realized that I was supposed to select a big dream or a medium. Oy! I wasn't ready for that. I abandonned the project.

I agree with your friend that this is the kind of thing that I could do once a year. Kind of like praying or meditation: you get something different out of it each time.
Jamie said…
I love how honest you are about your experence with this book. And congratulations on getting all the way through! With waning enthusiasm, that's a real accomplishment.

That the book led you to such an insightful post and clarity around what you don't like and openness to what you do like is cool. I love that you never doubted yourself as an artist and I'm glad you shared one of your pics. I loved the pictures you had up with your affirmation too!

I agree that this is definitely a book you can work through repeatedly. I've been through it twice, and did the "at work" one once (I probably won't read that one again).
Sacred Suzie said…
Wow, I would have such a hard time with the religious wording too. I haven't looked at this book in a very long time.

I can see how this was a perplexing project for you. I am so glad you enjoyed the morning pages though and perhaps that is what you needed from the experience.

Goodness knows that the term "artist" is different for every person.

Awesome stuff for getting through it Shannon and finally having that project done.

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