THE INTRODUCTION

Welcome, my friend, to the first accompanying blog for We’re Trying to Be Better! As you know, we’re reading Julia Cameron’s highly coveted The Artist’s Way. Showing up to this process and doing the things definitely felt already like a full to-do list, but as I was looking online for information about the text – well, I couldn’t find anything. Sure, sure – I found listings for classes and clubs, but nothing truly about the essential concepts and the lessons learned along the way.

So, I want to fill in this gap – which just made this project get a whole lot bigger! I’m dedicated to you, my friend. Let’s do this!

QUICK NOTE: In respect and honor of Julia Cameron’s work, I will not be providing a full report or deep dive into the text. I’ll be sharing a light summary and one or two of the week’s activity list. To hear my thoughts and insights, listen to the pod!

You can buy the book, here, and while doing so support small business bookstores. What a win!

WHO IS JULIA CAMERON & WHAT IS THIS TEXT?

“I teach people to let themselves be creative.”

Julia Cameron is a writer, director, and creativity guru. She believes deeply that creativity is a spiritual practice that everyone has the ability to tap into. Being human itself is constantly acting through the art of creativity – we just simply may not be conscious of it.

Whether you or are not tapped into the gifts of your artistry – yes, you are an artist – this book has been created to help you connect back into source of self and your birth-given creativity. Broken down into a 12-week process, this text is full of teachings, insights, activities, and practices to help you draw out and flow with The Great Creator.

The toolbox that is The Artist’s Way was created by doing small, intimate workshops in New York. Julia received, what she calls, Marching Orders – strong internal directives – to do so. She was just walking and the message hit her – that it was time for her to share with artists how they can unblock themselves. 10 years later she wrote the text, and it’s been a cherished source for over 25 years.

THE GOD CONCEPT

“What we are talking about is a creative energy… The point is not what you name it. The point is that you try using it.”

Julia Cameron is a believer in God and speaks about it a lot in this process. But she takes time to let her readers know that her religion is not the focus, nor the necessary source. If creativity is a spiritual connection, then it would make sense for her to communicate her spiritual associations. For those who are atheist, agnostic, or simply any other religion that does not follow the beliefs in God, when she is acknowledging God, she is using a shorthand for source of creative energy. “Goddess, Mind, Universe, Source, and Higher Power” are other examples of shorthands you can mentally substitute as we go along.

SPIRITUAL ELECTRICITY: THE BASIC PRINCIPLES

“If you think of the universe as a vast electrical sea in which you are immersed and from which you are formed, opening to your creativity changes you from something bobbing in that sea to a more fully functioning, more conscious, more cooperative part of that ecosystem.”

The are several factors that will be influencing how we respond in these 12 weeks and many more that affect the way we become enlightened. Here are three defined elements that you will become to know deeper as we move through this journey, followed by Julia Cameron’s Basic Principles of Creativity.

Spiritual Chiropractic – we undertake certain spiritual exercises to achieve alignment with the creative energy of the universe.

The Great Creator – the triad flow of self, source, and the creator within you. The Great Creator is an entity to connect to, just as is your trifecta and intuition, and is more centrally focused on creativity.

Synchronicity – we change and the universe furthers and expands that change.

Basic Principles

  1. Creativity is pure energy, and a natural order of life.
  2. There is an underlying creative force in all forms of life – including ourselves.
  3. Opening ourselves up to our creativity leaves an approachable doorway for creativity to exhale from within us and surface into our lives.
  4. Being made from creation, ourselves, we are meant to continue that flow of creation.
  5. Creativity was gifted to us from source, and it is our gift back to use that creativity.
  6. Is it a self-will, against true nature, when we refuse to use our creativity.
  7. When we allow ourselves to explore creativity, we open ourselves up to good orderly direction (source).
  8. When we tune into the channel of creation, great and powerful things will arise.
  9. We are in safety when we allow ourselves to dive deeper into our creativity.
  10. Source is what brings us our creative dreams and desires – when we submit to them we are syncing with our sacred divinity.

It’s time to let go of the fear, the waiting, and the negative ways in which we speak to ourselves. It’s time to embrace ourselves fully – with love, compassion, and belief in self. Do not feel that you need to have a firm grasp on these before continuing onward. You will be going through a creative recovery that will help you keep these keys by your side as you move beyond this and into the creatively unknown.

Creative Recovery – just as there is a trackable sequence in grief and mourning, so is there in recovering from our oppressed creativity. First comes anger, then grief, followed by altering waves of resistance and hope.

THE BASIC TOOLS

“In order to retrieve your creativity, you must find it.”

There are two tools that are crucial to the creative recovery process: the morning pages and the artist date. You need both to have a fulfilling and sustaining creative awakening. There are no activities listed for the prologue, but Cameron encourages us to go ahead and start using these two tools immediately.

Morning Pages

Every morning, first thing, write three pages by longhand, allowing stream-less consciousness to be present. Dismiss any shoulds when writing. There is no one way that is perfect or ultimate, because everyone is different with something new we face every day. So, if nothing is able to come out and awaken – if you can’t think of anything – just continue through as best you can – even if that means repeating over and over, “I can’t think of anything, I have nothing to say.”

Throughout our day, we come up with petty, whiny, angry stuff, and every time it comes up it gets in the way of our ability to tap into our Great Creator. The morning pages help us release and exhale whatever is keeping us in place, unable to move forward. It helps us get the gunk out that our inner critic demands we listen to.

Our inner critic, which Cameron calls The Censor, lies in our left side of the brain and is constantly sharing its insight with us – relentless jabbings that are disguised as truths. The morning pages lead us to the other side, away from The Censor. This can be broken down into logic brain and artist brain.

Logic Brain – the categorical brain; viewing the world through the perspective that everything lives in a categorical, neat, and linear fashion.

Artist Brain – the inventing, wondrous child within us; the creative, holistic brain that thinks in patterns and shadings.

It’s important to live in sympatico with both brains. We want to quiet The Censor, ground ourselves with our logic brain, and tap into the beautiful colors and sights we see through our artist brain. And the morning pages is the key in doing just that.

The Artist Dates

If we can look at the morning pages as our signal to the universe in what we are calling into our lives, then the artist dates are the way universe returns that call. Cameron describes it as output and input.

Defined, an artist date is a set amount of time, perhaps two hours, in which you nurture your creative consciousness on a solo adventure. This adventure does not need to be taken outside your home, but it does need to be just you and your inner artist.

An artist date is something that needs to be committed to every single week. Without exception. Your artist is a child that needs to be engaged, adored, and shown some magic. By dedicating a couple of hours to just you and your inner artist, you are getting a much needed break from the workaday adult that we all become. You are engaging your flow in creativity, and you are listening to the artist within you.

Examples of artist dates: a long walk, dinner and a movie, cooking in your kitchen, drawing in the park, having a concert on your roof, shopping at your local gag shop, etc.

Cameron recognizes that in order for us to create, we must draw from what is living within us. She likes to think of this as our artistic reservoir, and so then calls the process of using the morning pages and artist dates as filling the well. “Art is born in attention,” she writes. And by giving our inner artist and not The Censor the attention we are so worthy of is so key in gaining the necessary images to create the art that is calling within us. Experiences – attention – gives our artistic reservoir the images it needs to full us.

Whether the morning pages and artist dates bring you excitement or, most likely, some hesitation, in the book Cameron has her readers sign a contract. She has us fully commit spiritually to these intensive 12 weeks of connecting back to our creativity – committing to the weekly readings, daily morning pages, a weekly artist date, and the week’s tasks.

Cameron wants us to take care of ourselves, to truly dive in, and receive the creative transformation we are so worthy of. She encourages us to simply commit to the 12 weeks, and afterward see if this practice is something we want to continue later on. The goal here is to get out of our own way – to no longer be in artist’s block. Within her practice, she knows without a doubt that filling the well is the fool-proof way for you to leave artist’s block behind.

And with that my friend, is the end of the prologue. Thank you so much for joining us and we can’t wait to share with you the first week with you!

Remember, you can buy the book, here. And the podcast episodes are dropped every Friday.

No pressure, friends! After all, we’re trying to be better.