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Friday, November 18, 2005

cover of The Artist's Way

Julia Cameron's "artist's way" is a twelve-week workbook that aims at recovering, or discovering, your creativity. This book has been around for long enough-- and successful enough-- that some of its fixtures have become familiar to artists who are not acquainted with the book itself-- namely, the "morning pages" (write 3 pages every morning-- it doesn't matter what about, just write) and the "artist date" (take the time to do something fun and frivolous, to feed your creative side).

In some ways, working through this book was a very challenging and time-consuming experience. For each chapter there are tasks, and it would take a great deal of commitment to do all of them, plus morning pages and artist dates each week, which I never quite managed (although often our failures are as enlightening than our successes, if not more so). The book wasn't exactly what I expected; most of the content and the exercises are more about becoming a healthy person, and having good, healthy attitudes about art and creativity--which, certainly, are important. I thought there would be more in the way of artistic assignments to get you started, doing something in whatever media you like to work, or trying new ones (that might be the case in a few instances, although saying so might be a bit of a stretch). Perhaps the book just aims to get you in a place where you are willing and able to make the time for yourself to be creative, and to follow through on your own ideas and dreams (and there are some tools and helps towards this); but you still have to take the actual steps yourself.

There is also a spiritual component to Cameron's views on art; she challenges her readers to think of their "higher power" as a creative being, and one who values creativity-- and who gives us dreams and abilities for a reason, and wants to see us flourishing. Sometimes, with the language Cameron uses, it's difficult to tell what kind of background she is coming from-- what she says tends to sound a bit like New Age stuff, but this might be a result of trying to write it in terms that will be acceptable to people of a wide variety of beliefs. Also, I've been exposed to a lot of views and theories about art, and I'm not sure how much stock I put in her view... but I have to admit, her vision may be one that is more likely to encourage and stimulate acts of artistic creation, so it may be a pragmatic one in some ways.

This is an interesting and challenging book, and there is a lot of value here. It is worth going through, and probably worth doing more than once.

Title:The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity
Author:Julia Cameron
Date published:1992
Genre:Nonfiction / Creativity / Spirituality
Number of pages:229
Notes:Worked through over 12 weeks with 3 others.


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