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The Creative Process - a book review of "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron

Updated on February 6, 2010

The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity

If you are a writer on HubPages, it’s very likely that…you are a writer. Whether your topic is fiction, poetry, how-to’s, technology or HubPages, you are a writer because you write.

Sometimes the best writers get stuck, or blocked. We could all use some help. “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron is a book that has helped so many people…including me. It’s a book that can change your life, or at least significantly enrich it

I stumbled upon “The Artist’s Way” in the library years ago. At the time, I wasn’t looking to be a writer, but couldn’t escape my creativity, and so was intrigued by the title. I checked it out, read it through, wisely surmised, “this is a really good book” and went out and bought it. I re-read this book, at least in part, about once a year. Sometimes I complete the exercises, sometimes I don’t. I have, since my first read, written my “morning pages” almost every day.

Julia Cameron has been writing non-fiction, fiction, plays, poetry and even a feature film (writer-director) for over 30 years. Her book, “The Artist’s Way”, came about after she began teaching a “spiritual workshop aimed at freeing people’s creativity” in New York. Those who attended her workshop came from all walks of life.

Julia says that she was “told” to teach the workshops. One minute she’s walking down the street, and the next she knew she should be teaching people how to “unblock”. I find her personal story fascinating. I love reading about other writers, about how they started writing, about their process, their successes and failures. In “The Artist’s Way”, Julia inspires artists of all kinds using her life experiences, beliefs, thoughts, doubts, skill, creative energy…and on and on. I am extremely grateful that her friend and co-teacher, Mark Bryan, cornered her into writing this book.

Although “The Artist’s Way” couldn't possibly exist if it wasn’t Julia’s story, it is completely, totally about you, the reader and your creativity. She teaches us her “Basic Principles” and her “Basic Tools”. The tools are the morning pages I mentioned above (writing 3 pages longhand, stream-of consciousness thinking every morning) and the artist date (a weekly block of time you set aside for a little adventure all by yourself).

And that’s just the beginning. “The Artist’s Way” is broken down into twelve chapters or twelve weeks. Each chapter is about recovering something. For example “Week 1: Recovering a Sense of Safety”, “Week 2: Recovering a Sense of Identity”, “Week 5: Recovering a Sense of Possibility”, “Week 8: Recovering a Sense of Strength” and “Week 12: Recovering a Sense of Faith”. All worthy of recovering, don’t you think?

The text of each chapter inspires and challenges you, the reader, and each chapter ends with exercises, tasks and “check-in” or review for you to do. This is a workbook. If you think your creativity, your writing, your art is worth doing, it is worth the work. To fully benefit from this book, you need to do the exercises, tasks and check-ins along with the morning pages and artist dates. At least once I suggest you do it by the letter. Do everything in order, week one through twelve. After that, you can refer back as you need to for inspiration and motivation.

“Every blade of grass has its Angel that bends over it and whispers, “’Grow, grow.’” –The Talmud

“The Artist’s Way” is a book you will want to re-read many times. The quotes alone are worth cracking it open again and again. In the margins throughout the entire book are quotes from artists of all kinds. They are there to inspire you, to make you think, to make you feel. I have often shared a quote with a friend that I discovered in the book. Sometimes I quote the author herself. Today, for some reason, this one speaks to me.

“Taking a new step, uttering a new word is what people fear most.” –Fyodor Dostoyevski

In the Epilogue, Julia writes, “What I call my marching orders others may sense in themselves as a still, small voice or, even more simply, a hunch.”

Whatever you write, whatever your art, whatever brought you to HubPages, I hope you find the “creative energy that wants to express itself through you.”

 "Art is an act of faith, and we practice practicing it.  Sometimes we are called on pilgrimages on its behalf and, like many pilgrims, we doubt the call even as we answer it. But answer we do." -Julia Cameron

 "We are the instrument more than the author of our work." -Julia Cameron


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    • Hannah Ministries profile image

      Hannah Ministries 7 years ago

      thanks for the tip! I have been a writer all my life. (In my head) just started really putting in down when I was a teenager but on scrap of paper. Now in 2008 I wrote my first teenager novel and right now I'm in the proces of publishing my fisrt novel. English is my 4th lenguage so I need all the help I can get. I will check out the book you suggest for sure! Thanks.

    • pigfish profile image

      pigfish 7 years ago from Southwest Ohio

      Thanks for the comments, Hannah Ministries. I've found this book really helped boost my confidence. As Julia Cameron writes in the book, "Let God word through you." How wonderful that you are working on getting your firt teen novel published! I'm sure it is wonderful!

    • MehreenM profile image

      MehreenM 6 years ago from Pakistan

      This review was so exquisitely personalized that I couldn't help my craving for this book. Sounds really fulfilling.

    • pigfish profile image

      pigfish 6 years ago from Southwest Ohio

      Thank you MehreenM. I might just have to plan a re-read myself! Thanks for stopping by.

    • C Pascoe profile image

      C Pascoe 5 years ago from New Zealand

      I enjoyed reading your lovely review as I have read several of Julia Cameron's books including "The Artist's Way," and followed the exercises she gives in them. "The Right to Write" is also brilliant. She was a tremendous 'support' while I was writing my first novel and I still find myself revisiting them.

    • pigfish profile image

      pigfish 5 years ago from Southwest Ohio

      Thank you C Pascoe. I return to "The Artist's Way" about every year or so. I haven't read "The Right to Write". I will put that on my must-read list! Congratulations on your novel writing. Way to go girl!

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