This coming Saturday morning, January 5th, I will begin facilitating a year-long exploration of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. The meetings will take place on the first Saturday morning of each month throughout the year as part of the Soul Writers ministry here at UCOH. All you will need to participate is a personal copy of The Artist’s Way, a blank journal, your favorite writing instrument, and a sincere desire to meet your inner creative artist.
For the record, Soul Writers is not just for “writers” or those who aspire to be writers. Like The Artist’s Way, the intention of Soul Writers is for creatives of all stripes. Whether you are a writer, musician, dancer, sculptor, photographer, painter or any other creative “type,” with Soul Writers, you will have found your tribe. We call ourselves “soul writers,” because we use writing as a means of priming the creative pump for artistic expression. While we support all creative writing endeavors, the intention of Soul Writers is not to “teach” writing. Rather, it is to use writing or, more specifically, “journaling” as a means of creative and artistic exploration.
Don’t be put off by the group ministry name of Soul Writers if you don’t perceive yourself as a writer. Likewise, if you don’t perceive yourself as an “artist,” or feel you are not artistically inclined, don’t let the book title The Artist’s Way stop you from participating. However, if you feel like you would like to make a deeper commitment to creative expression in your life, no matter what that expression may be, then I invite you to join me and the Soul Writers on this year-long spiritual journey towards a more authentic creative experience in your life.
A Creative Path To Spiritual Recovery
It has been 22-plus years since I first worked my way methodically through The Artist’s Way, and while I got a tremendous amount of creative mileage out of that first pass, I have lately been feeling the need to work my way though it again, as a way of doubling down on my creative goals. The first time, I went through it alone. This time, I desire to go through it with others. I won’t go into my initial experience with The Artist’s Way here in this article. But, if you are interested in that story, you can read my article, The Artist’s Way: 12 Steps To Creative Recovery, which was published here on the UCOH blog back in September.
While Julia Cameron describes The Artist’s Way as a “spiritual path to higher creativity,” I call it my “12 step program to creative recovery,” or stated another way, I see it as a “creative path to spiritual recovery.” The article from September conveys some of the back story of that “recovery” and how The Artist’s Way served in that process. Whatever you call it, I can say unequivocally that The Artist’s Way changed my life, corrected my course, and healed me at levels I did not even know needed healing. Without The Artist’s Way, I would never have become a songwriter, or recording artist, and likely, would never have become a Licensed Unity Teacher. I cannot overstate the importance of The Artist’s Way in my life.
The Artist’s Way Tool Kit
If you have had previous experience with The Artist’s Way, then you know the primary tools we will be using on our year-long journey towards creative recovery are the morning pages and the artist date. We will talk more about what those tools are in the meetings. However, for the purposes of this article, allow me to use Julia Cameron’s definitions of these two powerful, creative tools.
The first and most important tool in your artist’s way toolkit is: the morning pages. Julia Cameron describes the “morning pages” as “three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream of consciousness.” They are not meant for public consumption or publication. In fact, you are encouraged to not even read them for at least six weeks. I have only rarely ever gone back and read my morning pages, and I have completed a fair number of journals along the way, although I will admit that in recent years my morning pages production has been sporadic at best. Getting back to having the morning pages be part of my regular routine is perhaps the biggest reason for my recommitment to The Artist’s Way in 2019. They are like a brain drain for me, helping to clear out the clutter in my mind so that I am more available for the creative possibilities of the day. They are also a constant source of surprise and inspiration to me as an artist, because I have no expectations for them, except to do them. They are kind of like a “chop wood, carry water” exercise for me, and the value is in the routine of doing them consistently in my life, no matter what is going on. I need that regularity to keep me on my creative track.
The second tool in The Artist’s Way toolkit is no less important, though it is not a required daily activity. Cameron calls this creative tool the “artist date” and describes it as a “block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness.” The artist date complements the morning pages. Together, they are a “two-step, two-directional process” of “going out, then in.” With the morning pages, we are sending out to the universe declarations of our hopes, dreams, desires and dissatisfactions. On the artist date, we are receiving “insight, inspiration and guidance” back from the universe. The artist date is intended to be a solo play date, exclusively with yourself and your inner artist. No lovers, friends, family members or other companions are allowed to tag along.
The Artist’s Way Is An Open-Ended Journey With No Ultimate Destination
The Artist’s Way is, in essence, a spiritual path, initiated and practiced through the activity of creativity, of doing the things that artists do to create an artful life. Creativity is an “open ended” activity. It is a journey with no ultimate destination. We will travel to and arrive at many wonderful creative destinations along the journey, but the journey itself is open-ended. There is no end point because there is always something more to be created, and the journey is only done when we decide we no longer wish to travel its pathways.
To take this journey really requires only two attitudes, or commitments, from you: willingness and open mindedness. Nothing that you have ever accomplished or simply done in your life has ever been achieved without your willingness. If you wish to live a creative, artful life, then you must first be willing to do so. It does not happen by accident. It does not force itself upon you, no matter how insistent it may call to you. You have to willingly participate in creating the experience for yourself, or it simply will not come to pass.
The second commitment required of you is to cultivate an attitude of open-mindedness. You might think it silly that the simple practices of writing your daily morning pages, or taking yourself on an artist date once a week can effect profound changes in your life. Be open-minded. Do them anyway. If you do, your own experience will prove their efficacy. Magic will happen in your life, and all around, you will see creative potential. Before you know it, you will begin feeling like an artist. Do it long enough and an artful life will be your creative reward.
An Open Invitation To Your Inner Artist
I invite you personally to join me and the Soul Writers on this year-long journey of personal discovery and nurturing of your inner artist. I look forward to sharing this experience with any and all of my fellow creative artists who show up throughout the year.
If you cannot make it to the first meeting this Saturday, do not sweat it. Simply, obtain your personal copy of The Artist’s Way, or perhaps dust off the one that has been collecting dust on your shelf, get a brand new journal, your favorite writing instrument and work your way through chapter 1, “Recovering A Sense Of Safety,” in January. Do your morning pages. Go on your artist’s date. And, do the suggested exercises you will find at the end of the chapter.
Then, join us on the first Saturday in February. Ultimately, your artist’s journey, like my own, is a solitary one. But, it is good to know there are others who are also on the path that you can connect with to share the experience. In this, the Soul Writers are there for you, and we look forward to bearing witness to the birth of your inner artist. See you on the path.