Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way changed my life in late 2007. That’s when, after nearly a year of training to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and weeks before my departure for Tanzania, my feet were so swollen and purple they wouldn’t fit into my boots and a rheumatologist said I might have lupus. Cameron’s “morning pages” (three pages of daily, stream-of-consciousness writing – on paper – as soon as you awake) were magical, allowing me in 20 minutes or less each day to dump my worries and start believing in myself again.
Her methods for helping authors and other artists bring their visions to life work for me. Here are a few of my favorites, taken from several of her books I’ve bought over the years (her words are in quotes):
- Say creative affirmations such as “As I create and listen, I will be led,” “I am allowed to nurture my artist,” and “I am willing to be of service through my creativity.”
- “Take pen in hand. List five areas of your life in which you would like to see ‘improvement.’ Next to each area, write a small, forward-looking action that you could take. For example: Playing the piano: twenty minutes of daily practice can be shoehorned into the busiest life. You get the idea: Easy does it, but do it.”
- Try writing in more than one spot. “Multiple writing stations is a cheap trick…Changing stations with my moods, I bribe myself into writing when I might not feel like it.” (I move between my home office, living room, and front porch.)
- Understand that you “are dealing with an inner child. Artistic child abuse creates rebellion creates block.” (Love this.)
- When you need to “blast through the block,” take pen in hand (yes, Cameron’s a stickler for longhand) and list areas in which you’re procrastinating. For instance, I have to finish my book proposal. “Moving one at a time, write down your resentments, angers, and fears connected to each area in which you procrastinate.”
I made it to the top of Kilimanjaro (cleared from a lupus diagnosis), and someday, my book will be finished. Until then, I’ll keep referencing the “Creativity Contact” I signed when I started The Artist’s Way, what Cameron refers to as a 12-week “spiritual path, initiated and practiced through creativity.” I pledged to commit to excellent self-care (adequate sleep, diet, exercise, and pampering) and to guided weekly tasks. Inherent in the contract, though not explicitly stated, was a commitment to believing in myself.
Yes. I can do this. Whatever “this” is.
[Thanks to Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, The Writer’s Life: Insights from The Right to Write, and The Sound of Paper.]
How do you “blast through the block” – whether in writing or in life?