The Artist’s Way – Week One

It’s a good thing I mentioned in the last post that I was going to write about the Artist’s Way today, otherwise I might have banged on about today’s town trip. And then spontaneous human combustion would have been a very real possibility.

I may have calmed down enough to tell you all about it by tomorrow. Don’t go holding your breath though, it may take a little longer than that.

Right then, The Artist’s Way.

The Artist’s Way is basically a 12 week course in creativity. It’s written by Julia Cameron and the aim is to help you recover your creative state though a series of fun tasks, morning pages and artist’s dates. All of which will be explained below.

I have tried to do it once before but I got to about week five and then life got in the way and I gave up. It’s very important to guard against that if you seriously want to complete this course.

I started again just over a week ago so I’m in my second week now. This post will be about week one and I’ll be updating my on progress at the end of each new week from now until I’ve finished the course.

So, what’s it all about?

The Morning Pages:
This part of the course is non-negotiable. Every day, for the entire 12 weeks (and possibly forever), you have to write three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness words.

Yes, I did say longhand. No computers or word processors allowed.

As far as the actual writing goes, this is not something I struggle with. My brain is constantly full of all kinds of nonsense so getting it onto the page is not generally a problem.

What I do struggle with is getting the hand to keep up with the brain. I used to think writer’s cramp was a myth until I began the Morning Pages.

The other issue I have is getting up that bit earlier to get them done before I start my day. I am NOT a morning person. In fact, I’ve had to fight the urge to write them before I go to bed on more than one occasion. My logic being that it’s after midnight so technically it’s morning anyway.

I wouldn’t stake my life on it, but I would think that’s against the rules.

The other thing I wasn’t too sure of was how big these pages have to be. Oddly, the version of the book I have doesn’t make that clear. It’s possible that this has been addressed in later versions though.

Anyway, I decided to go with an A5 notebook. It’s not that I don’t have enough nonsense in my head to fill three A4 sheets per day, it’s just that I’d have to get up even earlier and I couldn’t cope with that.

This week’s check in on the Morning Pages: Done. Seven days out of seven. Now, where’s my gold star?

The Artist’s Date

Also not negotiable. Ah, now this one caused me a bit more trouble. The theory is that your inner artist is a child and needs to be nurtured.

The Artist’s Date has some prerequisites:

  • It must be done alone.
  • It must be something your artist child would like – so no grown up activities.
  • It must be done every week.
  • I’m sure there are others but I’ve been doing that thing I do with caffeine and they escape me right now.

Now, the Artist’s date is supposed to be a solo activity undertaken to refill the creative well. It’s supposed to be fun and childlike and, well, enjoyable.

And I really can’t get with it at all.

Firstly, I’m not the most child-friendly person on the planet and the idea that my inner artist is a child gives me the heebee jeebees.

Secondly, I have managed to kid myself all week that I really don’t have the time to do this until the New Year.

This week’s check in on the Artist’s Date: Not done. Unless you count a solo trip though the snow covered park to the local supermarket with the sole purpose of indulging in a chocolate orange cheesecake.

Kids like cheesecake, no?

The Tasks
There are other tasks to chose from each week. You don’t have to do them all, though you should work through about 50% of them.

You choose by picking a selection from those which you are drawn to do and those that you resist strongly. I think I resisted them all at first but, when I got into them, I enjoyed creating my ‘Monster Hall of Fame’ and cartoon trashing my monsters.

I won’t go into the tasks in detail lest I infringe Ms Cameron’s copyright but they are definitely interesting.

This week’s check in on the Tasks: I’m feeling rather self-righteous here as I managed to do them all.

To Sum Up
On the whole, I enjoyed the first week though I can’t say I noticed any major changes in myself or my life. I’m still feeling very blocked on the second novel but it’s early days yet.

Week two is called Going Sane and so far I feel like the opposite is happening. The fact that it says this will happen makes me feel better though.

I will be updating on week two after I’ve done my check in on Sunday, so some time next week.

If you’re interested in working through the book you can get it here:

The Artist’s Way

And tomorrow I might just tell you all about my nightmare trip to Keighley. There now, isn’t something to look forward to so much better than instant gratification?