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Customer Review

TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 2 July 2012
Do not think, gentle reader, that I didn't give this book a fair trial. I did the whole course, meticulously. I was hoping this book would give me a kick up the pants at a time when I was losing my way with my work. Instead it almost robbed me of the will to live. I did produce plemty of work in the process, but it was meretricious and self-indulgent rubbish; something which was very damaging and harmful. The book didn't boost my self-esteem, it made me doubt my own abilities and I realised the author wanted to you to "buy" HER version of creativity, whatever the cost in your quality of work. Splurging out everything inside you without discrimination isn't creativity, it's Salmonella.

Embedded in this book are one or two useful techniques for ridding your mind of extraneous clutter and taking a metaphorical deep breath. However the surrounding mush of flummery, cod psychology, New Age waffle and fundamentalist Christianity will put off many UK readers, with good reason. I have given it three stars really, because a lot of other people like it and so it must have some virtues, and for the sake of those few useful techniques.

The author has clearly made a very great deal of money in the US running courses and workshops based on her technique. I shall leave it to the reader to decide what they think of this; for me, sadly, it just confirms many of my prejudices. As does the fact that, throughout, the author cites quotations from "great souls" and "artists" which support her arguments. Maybe it's because I'm from the wrong side of the Atlantic, but with a very few exceptions, the ones I'd heard of weren't the sort of people you'd look to as an artist, and the vast majority were people who names had never before crossed my event horizon. Surely there must be many suitable quotes from great, inspirational artists and writers, so why all these nonentities?

Speaking as a "blocked artist", I would say "This is not a book to be put aside lightly. It should", as Oscar Wilde pointed out, "be hurled with great force". I concede that some people feel they have been helped by it, but it is far too mushy and misses the real point of creative work. The "morning pages" idea is the best bit. Much of the rest is counter-productive or self-indulgent. After a while, I found the book unhelpful and I became bogged down in self-pity and self-absorbtion. Not all work is good, and a book which stimulates you to produce a lot of poor quality work hasn't helped you. To produce good work you have to forget yourself, not become obsessed with past wrongs or spend valuable time writing out silly mantras a la "Every day in every way I'm getting better and better" I concede I am not a writer, and it is true the word processor does enable a writer to edit in the way a painter cannot. For blocked painters I'd recommend:
*Going to lots of exhibitions and seeing the work of other artists, great and minor, and if possible talking to them.
*Doing the "morning pages" to clear ones head; this just means sitting down with a notebook and your morning tea, before you do anything else, and writing 3 pages of whatever comes into your head; good for clearing the decks and looking ahead.
*Looking back at stuff you did years ago that you weren't happy with, and analysing what you like, and don't like, about it, and redoing it with the benefit of what you have learned since.
*Listening to artistically-minded friends talk about your stuff; they are more objective than you and will see virtues (and flaws) in your work you are blind to.
*Reading YOU ARE AN ARTIST: A PRACTICAL APPROACH TO ART., written in 1965 before the end of civilisation as we know it.
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