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willim@waltham.ac.uk Mark Williams (London, UK)

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The Artist's Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self
The Artist's Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self
by Julia Cameron
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.49

424 of 431 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Practising The Artist's Way, 17 Mar 2002
On the flyleaf to this book, Julia Cameron is described as "an active artist". This is very apt because in The Artist's Way we have a very active book with a powerful practical application. Do not expect to read this book and be unaffected by it. I have been personally been amazed by the effect it has already had on my life within under a month of having purchased it. In fact, the impact was almost immediate.
I originally approached this book in a spirit of curiosity, merely to find out what it was about. The structure of the book is a twelve-week course on getting in touch with and unblocking your creativity based upon many years' successful delivery of the course by the author. Significantly, the term "recovering" your creative self is used so the process is likened to that of someone recovering from say alcohol or drug addiction but in this instance you are restoring the connection with a positive energy rather than abstaining from a harmful practice. If any harmful practice is indeed being renounced, it is the denial or suppression of your creativity. Rather than sign up, as it were, for the course right away, I skimmed through the whole book just to discover its main points. However, the two basic tools for creative recovery I adopted straight away. These are the morning ages and the artist date. The first is a commitment to write three pages, long hand, about anything that comes to mind when you awaken. The purpose of this exercise is to stifle your inner critic and clear out any blockages you might have that are holding you back. The second is to keep a date, on your own, every week for a couple of hours with your inner artist, your "artist child" as Julia Cameron refers to it. The purpose of the artist date is to be receptive so as to "fill the well" of your creativity. Both actions together can be likened to breathing, a rhythm of in (artist date) and out (morning pages).
My initial aim in putting these tools into practice was not specifically to realise my potential as an artist. I wanted to see if they would have a general effect on the way I approached my job and the way I lived my life. What I hadn't anticipated was that I would actually start writing creatively again after a block which has lasted 15 years. I am now engaged in writing a novel, which I manage to work on every day despite a busy and demanding job and my head is buzzing with other writing projects too. It is for this reason that I can so enthusiastically endorse this book.
Do not think, however, that you necessarily have to have the desire to write, as in my case, to find this book of value. The Artist's Way is designed to stimulate every type of artistic endeavour. It can also be applied to bring creativity to bear upon all aspects of your life, from major considerations like career and relationship issues to humble activities like cooking or mending clothes. It doesn't matter, too, how seemingly non-creative and left-brained the profession you are engaged in. Cameron cites the example of stockbrokers maintaining Morning Pages and becoming better stockbrokers as a result. The ultimate benefit of the book, though, if you are willing to put its principles into practice, is to feel that one is leading a more positive, purposeful life.


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