Monday, May 11, 2015

The Artist's Way Starter Kit (Julia Cameron)

The Artist's Way Starter Kit
Julia Cameron
Nonfiction, Creativity
**** (Good)

DESCRIPTION: Most everyone has creative urges of some form or another. Maybe we once dabbled in poetry, or fondly remember that long-ago watercolor class, or bought a couple books on writing screenplays... but then we Grew Up. You can't be an Artist if you're not willing to starve and suffer, or unless you're one of the Special Few with that rare, elusive thing called Talent. Just enjoying creativity isn't enough; it has to make us money or bring us fame, or we're just wasting our time. Sure, it's no fun, but it's what's expected of us as responsible adults, mothers and fathers and workers... right?
Creativity isn't a luxury, but a need. Denying it is denying part of what makes us human. But most of us have built walls of fear - or had someone else build them for us - that block our artistic selves. This twelve-week course by prolific author Julia Cameron helps you to acknowledge and push through those blocks, reclaiming your right to create.
This kit includes Julia Cameron's book, The Artist's Way, and a journal with quotes from the text.

REVIEW: For the record, I did not just read this book; I did all twelve weeks, insomuch as I was able. Billed as a "spiritual" path for "blocked" creatives - those of us who have let fear, uncertainty, and the pressures of a product- and fame-oriented society stifle our artistic sides - Cameron offers concrete steps for healing old hurts and moving through doubt. She does not promise to eliminate self-doubt or fear altogether, but rather teach ways to acknowledge and work through them so that they no longer significantly impede progress. Fear, not laziness, is to blame for most procrastination, she claims... and I must say, after working through this book, she's probably right (though there's still a little raw laziness in there, at least for me.) Cameron also emphasizes the spiritual aspect, crediting God (or Source, or the Universe, or whatever alternative nomenclature one might use) as the source of inspiration. Her attitude that "everyone has to believe in Something" is a little presumptuous, making those sections of her book feel a little strained. Otherwise, despite some initial skepticism, I found the experience more interesting and useful than I might have expected. I even got a short story out of it - and a rejection, but just finishing a short and submitting it is more than I've managed for far too long. The fact that the idea more or less fell out of my head during my attempt at "reading deprivation" (an exercise from the book, wherein one does not read anything, be it a website or a book or a newspaper ad - not an easy task at all for me, as one might expect, especially when I work at the library) lends a little more credence to Cameron's methods. I also actually find myself enjoying the "morning pages," three pages of daily writing in the morning before one starts one's day, despite some initial rebellion over not being a morning person. (Though I can't recommend the Artist's Way Morning Pages Journal; the stiff spine makes it difficult to write in.) Overall, despite being a little God-heavy now and again, I'd say the experience on the whole is worthwhile.

You Might Also Enjoy:
How to Avoid Making Art (Julia Cameron) - My Review
Hocus Pocus, You're Focused! (Arthur Laud) - My Review

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