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  • Writer's pictureVendela Ahlström

The Artist's Way

Can we improve ourselves as artists? Can we form better relationships with out artist-selves? Is there such a thing as reconnecting with our creative selves?

Morning journaling by the window
Photo by Alisa Anton via Unsplash:

I’m diving into this as I embark on the 12 week long course The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

No, it’s not a fancy retreat or online course. It’s not even ridiculously expensive. It’s a book. And in the book Julia Cameron takes you on a course, or a journey, where you allow your relationship with your inner creative soul to heal.

Now, I don’t consider my relationship with my creative self to be broken or suffering in any way. I’m not “blocked” creatively. If anything I have a very stable writing routine and more than enough ideas to play with. I have plenty of motivation. But there are a lot of ups and down in the creative process. Even if I think I produce a stead stream of creative writing and I’ve become much more thick-skinned regarding feedback and critique than when I started, I still go through a lot of ups and downs emotionally. Impostor syndrome will come when I least expect it. The finish line feels further and further away even when I move forwards, and I end up feeling defeated. I never consider giving up, but the creative journey is a roller coaster of heightened emotions. From despair, self-loathing and and pity to excitement, confidence and and joy.

Anyways, I’ve heard so many good things about this book that I thought, why not? I mean, even Russell Crow speaks well of this book. It’s not specifically for writers, but artists and creatives of any kind. It’s existed for a long time and loads of people recommend it. What’s the harm in trying?

The course

So the “course” consists of twelve chapters. One chapter per week. Every week comes with information and lessons on how to accept your creative life and has tasks to complete. Throughout the course you’re also expected to complete Morning Pages and the Artist’s Date. These are “compulsory”. If nothing else, these should be prioritised.

The Morning Pages

Basically: journaling. First thing in the morning. 3 pages. That’s it. As soon as you wake up you sit down and write three pages of long hand journaling. You can journal about anything. Anything that comes to mind. Like a brain dump. This is meant to unblock you and empty your mind so that you have a free mind to sit down and be creative later on. This is the artist’s output. This is done every day through the whole course and ideally afterwards as well. For your whole creative career.

The Artist’s Date

If the Morning Pages are the output, then the Artist’s Date is the input. It’s a date with yourself and your inner creative. It doesn’t have to cost money, but you need to spend time with yourself. No one else is allowed to accompany you on your Artist’s Date and this is meant to take place once a week.

My expectations

I’m about a week into the course. I’ve started doing the Morning Pages and love them. The idea of journaling first thing in the morning is not foreign to me. I’ve done it before and quite like getting into a routine so I was very open to get back into this sort of thing again. Mentally and emotionally I think this kind of journalling is very healthy.

The Artist’s Date is harder for me. What am I meant to do? What activities? Is it enough to go on a walk in the forest? Can I go watch a film at the cinema on my own? It feels a little vague and I’m still figuring this out, but I’m rather excited for this. Being alone with my inner artist feels like something that will result in a great upswing of inspiration and motivation. I think this will be fuel for my creative life.

I have no doubt this course will be an insane emotional roller coaster. I’m not as “broken” as I feel the first few chapters of the books wants to make me believe I am, but I’m still ready to dissect my relationship with creativity. I have a feeling I will pick apart my life and analyse my creativity. I’m probably going to have to break myself down in order to build myself up again. It will be exhausting, I bet. But I am excited for this journey.

I’ve had this book for a few years now and I’ve read the introduction several times in an attempt to do the course, but never taken the time it requires to do it properly. It’s usually stopped at the Morning Pages. But now I’m giving it my all. I’m signing a contract (you have to sign this symbolic contract in the book) with myself to complete the course.

I’m curious what comes of this and will keep you updated!

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