The Artist Way

In a creative slump? Allow me to proselytize for a moment and introduce you to two tools that will become very important parts of your life–artist dates and morning pages. Devotees to Julia Cameron’s phenomenal book The Artist’s Way know all about it.

For the uninitiated, The Artist’s Way is a book that walks you through what could be called a 12-week creativity boot camp.  Each week presents new ideas to ponder, tasks to conquer and boundaries to break. It’s a program that is especially well-suited for writers, but really it’s great for any creative type.

It forces you to think. At the core of the Artist’s Way process are artist dates and morning pages. Artist dates are little outings that you go on weekly by yourself. You are to take yourself to something that inspires creativity. Maybe it’s a new exhibit at the local contemporary art museum or a walk in a botanic garden or atrip to a craft fair or catching a matinee at an indie theater—anything that gets your creative thoughts flowing.

The morning pages (my favorite aspect of The Artist’s Way) consist of three pages of free-write every morning. Every. Morning. Three. Pages.  It’s a simple yet extraordinarily effective tool.  Cameron’s rule is that you do three pages no matter what. If you think you don’t have anything to say, you can write “I don’t have anything to say” for three pages, but just put something on the page. No thinking, just writing. You’ll be surprised at what comes out of your head.  For me, sometimes it’s an elaborate to-do list, sometimes it’s my dreams, sometimes it’s seemingly random thoughts/observations that I didn’t realize were occupying space in my head.  I think of the morning pages as that warm summer rain that feels good and leads to a clear sky and a pretty rainbow.

Every single person I know who has completed The Artist’s Way process hails it as a transformative experience and it is.  Also, every single person I know who has completed The Artist’s Way process did not get all the way through it the first time around.  You won’t either, but you’ll get back to it when you’re ready.

It took me about two years to get back to The Artist’s Way from the first time I tried it and that was four years ago. Now, I find myself back in need of a creative boost and I know just how to do it. I ‘ve been keeping up with morning pages, but not so much the artist dates (not in a conscious way anyway) and I need to read those inspirational quotes sprinkled throughout the book again and get into boot camp mode.

I’m going to start The Artist’s Way process again next week and will chronicle my journey on my blog every weekend for 12 weeks.  Join me if you’d like.

Have you tried The Artist’s Way? What was your experience? It’s the truth, right?

Demetria Irwin is a New York City-based freelance writer/editor. Follow her on Twitter,@Love_Is_Dope.

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