Julia Cameron,
The Artist's Way:
A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity

(Penguin Putnam, 1992)

The Artist's Way is a workbook for anyone who is creative, feels blocked in their creativity or wishes that they were more creative. The book begins with the statement that everyone is creative and has an artist within them, and the point of this course is to recover that inner artist. It is divided into a twelve-week course, with assignments much like any semester-long college class.

The main assignments are deceptively simple, but require a willingness to see them through. The first daily assignment is the morning pages. These are three pages of longhand free association writing. It doesn't matter what you write, as long as you fill those pages. As simple as that may sound, it's tougher than it seems.

The main weekly assignment is the artist date. Spend two hours each week doing something for you -- alone. Again, this is tougher than it appears. It's easy to let the dishes, the laundry, everything else get in the way of this weekly date, but it is very important. Just as anyone would woo a reluctant lover, so must one woo the inner artist, coax it out to play with fun and games.

Each chapter is a week, devoted to a particular aspect of recovering the inner artist. Each chapter discusses some of the pitfalls and problems and gives a choice of exercises designed to stimulate your creativity and sense of self. These include listing imaginary professions, cataloguing things that you enjoy doing but have not done in a long time, describing yourself at 80, and listing your forbidden joys.

In addition to finding your creative side, your spiritual side is also explored. Spiritual aspects are not dogmatic at all, and are easy to reconcile.

This is not an easy course, but the results can be immediate. Growth in any way is not easy, but with anecdotes and enjoyable exercises, The Artist's Way leads you down that path -- if you choose to walk it.

[ by Beth Derochea ]

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