I’m launching down the path of Julia Cameron’s, “The Artist’s Way.” Care to join me in this practice of creativity?
When Facebook included a profile question about religion (does it still? was it too inflammatory?), my answer was simultaneously irreverent and deeply venerating. My answer was “alchemy,” a reference to the international best-selling book, The Alchemist, by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho.
The book harmonized familiar Christian philosophies with myth, a hero’s journey and a love story. It opened me to new possibilities in ways I’m still discerning. Most notably, the idea of the personal legend stirred something deep within me.
When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.
To pursue one’s personal legend, the hero of the story (each of us in our own lives/stories) must learn the language of the world, look for omens and signs. I’ve long believed everything happens for a reason and in its due time, but The Alchemist encourages more active observation of the events as they unfold.
When my friend and fellow creative, Erin Kelly, asked me recently if I had read The Artist’s Way, I felt a nudge from the universe. I’ve known about this book for years and had shelved it up high on a someday shelf. I’d never made the leap to reading the book and putting the free-form writing into motion. Until now. I could feel the conspiring of the universe. This was the time to start this path.
The timing for developing this habit could not have been more perfectly orchestrated. Social distancing has given me room to care for myself, has stripped away “normal” obligations and the excuses I could have made.
What is The Artist’s Way?
“The Artist’s Way is the seminal book on the subject of creativity.” Author and creative, Julia Cameron guides the reader through exercises and affirmations to release the inner critic and let the inner creative emerge. Anyone can be a creative. She deems creation as a channel for the divine (or whatever you choose to call your higher power).
Morning Pages & The Artist’s Date
Cameron’s method suggests two commitments: the morning pages, a daily practice of writing three stream-of-consciousness pages, and the artist’s date, a “once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you.” Both practices begin with a contract.
The power of a contract with myself really struck me. How often do I commit to others? How often do I sign my name to someone’s else’s endeavor yet feel sheepish carving a dedicated time for myself? Signing a contract with myself endowed me with sincerity, seriousness and optimism. I will do this even if it makes me feel slightly uncomfortable at the beginning because I signed a commitment.
After penning my name, I wandered around my home looking at the collections I have honed. I looked for objects of beauty and inspiration, for the tools I use to add ritual to my life, and I offered them up like a sacrament to my creative practice…
… My favorite flowers picked from the quiet grounds of my alma mater. Aged post cards of favorite places, exchanged between a soldier and his wife, photographed before I was even born. A pen made by a father and a daughter. Rose water and rose nectar. Tea and buttery biscuits. The cork from my cookbook cover and one-year anniversary. A good luck elephant from a trip to India. A “Q” from my collection – the letter I proudly bear as a badge of uniqueness.
At a time when it’s easy to feel bored or turn to distraction, the insight from this quote felt like a mirror held in front of me:
Boredom is just ‘What’s the use?’ in disguise. And ‘What’s the use?’ is fear, and fear means you are secretly in despair. So put your fears on the page. Put anything on the page. Put three pages of it on the page.
So I here I go! Contract signed and a new practice in the works. Perhaps this post will be the alchemic nudge you have been needing, and perhaps you’ll join me. Perhaps you’re a morning pages veteran, in which case, what artist dates have you taken? What have you learned? What part of you emerged?