Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron

I picked up this book from the library when a friend of mine asked a group of us to go through the book with her. The Artist's Way is designed to be worked through over 12 weeks. Because it was a library book, I did it in six. My friends had started the book a few weeks before me but I still think I finished first.
The concept is to learn how to nurture your creative side and avoid creative blocks. I had picked up the book years ago but it didn't make an impression. I don't think I took it seriously. This time, I found I wanted to recommend it to everyone I know. Even though I did it in half the time and didn't quite do everything, I gave it a lot of effort. It's a great book but it's not perfect.
I did notice that it had a way of bringing to light the weirdest issues. The first time I read it, I had a real problem with Julia Cameron's use of God. Looking back, that was a time I was working through my own issues of faith. A friend of mine has the same issue but she also took issue with Julia Cameron's use of twelve step programs. This was something that no one else noticed making us wonder where the issue for her lies.
For me, I struggled with some of the more old fashioned wording. I am a woman in my thirties with a lot of future left. I struggled with Julia Cameron's questions like "If it wasn't too late, I would...." For me, it's not too late. I want to live in the now - not the past or the future. There's an issue there but I can't say what it is but it gives me something to explore.
I read a number of reviews of this book and find that you really have to be in the right place for this book to be helpful and, sadly, it's a place of recovery. The book is designed to help those recover from their blocks but it's a hard place to pull out of. I can understand why - Julia Cameron wrote this as a substitute to her workshops. The problem is that a workshop is more supportive than a book. I can picture that people use the book alone without support of others. You need a sounding board and someone to hold your hand when it gets too tough. You need accountibility that just doesn't come with a book.
I do recommend this book and have been contemplating using it to start my own workshops in my area but I don't recommend going it alone. Find other creative beings who want to work through it as well. It doesn't matter if they have blocks or not - there's still things to be learned.
I start this book over (I bought a copy for my husband) next week and plan on working through it with my husband so that he can discover the tools to prevent creative blocks as he starts his own blogs and persues his own dreams.

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