A Year in Books/Day 121: The Artist’s Way

  • Title: The Artist’s Way A Spiritual Path to Creativity
  • Author: Julia Cameron
  • Year Published: 1992 (G.P Putnam’s Sons)
  • Year Purchased: 1998
  • Source: Unknown
  • About: If you’re an artist, writer or other creative type you’ve likely heard of this book; it’s a classic of its kind. I have a confession: I’ve read it at least four times (maybe five) but have never done the exercises for more than a week. I know, I know. Reading it (the easy part) but not following through by actually putting in the work (the tough part) entirely defeats the purpose. I don’t know why I always stop at around the same point in the program: the whole thing makes sense, it is inspiring, my brain knows that it would probably be helpful. Maybe it’s because I’m not very good at following directions (I’m a control freak) and don’t like to be locked into anything with such an open-ended outcome. Given that it’s only a twelve-week program, maybe I will give it another whirl. On the plus side-for me, anyway-is the relative structure involved. I can get behind free writing every morning; that’s a sound discipline to have. I also love the quotes in the margins of nearly every page. The program seems to encourage artistic empowerment and creative openness, both good things. Whether it skews , in actual practice, to the side of personal revelation or empty promise remains to be seen.
  • Motivation: It is an attractive concept and was all the rage for the whole of the 1990s and into this century, when I was a very young aspiring writer.
  • Times Read: 4 or 5
  • Random Excerpt/Page 123: “Jealousy is a map. Each of our jealousy maps differs. Each of us will probably be surprised by some of the things we discover on our own. I, for example, have never been eaten alive with resentment over the success of women novelists. But I took an unhealthy interest in the fortunes and misfortunes of women playwrights. I was their harshest critic, until I wrote my first play.”
  • Happiness Scale: My jury of one is still out.

If you’ve actually read the book AND completed the program, I’d love to hear from you. Did it help in any practical way? What did you get from the program?

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