May. 26th, 2014

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Hey there! Welcome to The Artist's Way, a free and voluntary creative workshop based on Julia Cameron's book of the same name. The book arrived on my doorstep on Friday, and running a little behind, but I'd like to start the 12-week workshop today with a couple of introductions and our first weekly post.

The purpose of this workshop is to unblock the creative efforts of anyone who wants more creativity in their lives, or to feel freer and less conflicted about their existing creative pursuits. It's intended to be suitable for everyone who wants it, including people who are working artists, people with creative hobbies, and people who have avoided creativity since they were children. Every week will have a theme and daily tasks exploring that theme

In addition, Cameron has a couple of core practices for this workshop, which she encourages you to treat as non-negotiable: daily morning pages, and weekly artist's dates.

The following introduction to morning pages, artist's dates, and the community as a whole is quoted verbatim from [personal profile] alexconall's original, posted on Sep. 12th, 2013.

Morning pages )

Artist's dates )

Quoting [personal profile] alexconall again:

The morning pages and artist's date are on you to schedule. This comm will provide weekly posts, drawn in large part from The Artist's Way, on the theme of the week, and daily posts with tasks stolen outright from Cameron's pages. Cameron suggests doing the tasks that most and least appeal to you, on the principle that if it appeals to you it's worth doing and if you resist it then there's a reason and you should find out what that reason is. The weekly posts will also serve as check-ins for the previous week's morning pages and artist's date, and as spaces to discuss your progress.

Finally, Cameron insists that students of her The Artist's Way sign a contract with themselves as a commitment. Her text is below: modify it if you like, then sign and date it. Come back to it, she says, when you need encouragement.

I, ________, understand that I am undertaking an intensive, guided encounter with my own creativity. I commit myself to the twelve-week duration of the course. I, ________, commit to weekly reading, daily morning pages, a weekly artist's date, and fulfilment of each week's tasks.

I, ________, further understand that this course will raise issues and emotions for me to deal with. I, ________, commit myself to excellent self-care—adequate sleep, diet, exercise, and [recreation] —for the duration of the course.

________ (signature)
________ (date)

That about sums it up. Posts will be based on both The Artist's Way and [personal profile] alexconall's excellent summaries from last year. You're invited to comment on each day's task in as much or as little detail as you like. However, you're not required to comment or even to say whether you've done the task.

In addition to the posting schedule described above, I'll probably be adding an additional weekly item, discussed briefly in the next post.
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This is the second part of a two-part introduction to the [community profile] artistsway community. The first part is here.

Julia Cameron and I are not the same person. While The Artist's Way is full of great ideas, I have a couple of major and a lot of very minor disagreements with what I've found so far, and a few more may pop up before the workshop ends. Most of them won't ever come up, but this one is kind of pervasive, so I'm putting it right up front.

I'm an atheist and a materialist. Julia Cameron, at least in her Artist's Way persona, is not.

Spirituality is an integral part of Cameron's project as she sees it -- the subtitle of the book is "A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity." Throughout, she'll be talking in terms of God / the Great Creator, and encouraging us to cultivate a relationship with this entity. She'll also assure us that we don't need to believe in divine beings to take part in the workshop, and suggests that people who are uncomfortable with her use of the word "God" should simply mentally substitute "good orderly direction" or "flow."

I'm not going to be doing that. The exercises in this book have been an enormous help to me in the past. If I thought I had to understand them in spiritual terms, however cloaked and muffled, I doubt I would have made it to Week 2 the first time around.

But what is inhibiting to one person might be liberating to another. I don't want to discard Cameron's creator-language by fiat just because it doesn't work for me -- I'd like to make sure that all of Cameron's tools are on the table, to be picked up by whoever finds them useful.

So I'll be adding weekly posts that quote Cameron directly on all things spiritual and Creatorly. These will be complete, verbatim passages, free of grumpy atheist asides or the uncharitable misinterpretations that paraphrase is heir to, and they'll be tagged with their own tag so they'll be easy to seek out or avoid. I hope that works. The first Spiritual Path post will go up later this evening and will quote from the introduction to The Artist's Way
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Phew! Ok, let's get started. During the first week, we'll work on identifying, understanding, and altering the negative thoughts we have about our creativity.

A lot of us live in cultures where after a certain age, the majority of our energies are expected to go toward earning a living, developing a career, and / or taking care of a family. These are often categorized as “adult” concerns. Drawing, painting, making music, crafts, writing, and other forms of creativity are expected to be turned into lucrative careers or pushed aside to make room for some other kind of work. Young people discussing college plans are inevitably asked what they plan to “do with that,” meaning, “How will you use your education to earn money and secure employment?” We're encouraged to think of our creativity in the same way, and to evaluate it first as an economic asset. Will it look good on a resume? Will it help you in an interview? Well, what good is it, then?

Because of this, and because it can be hard to earn a living from art, young artists get discouraged early and often. Want to be an actor? Good luck ever eating again. Visual art major? Don't you mean art therapy or art education? So you write poetry, huh? A chapbook, is that a thing? Is the title Do You Want Fries With That?


This week, when you find yourself thinking negative thoughts about your creativity, write them down. Cameron calls them “blurts.” You can think of them as bricks in a wall, lines of barbed wire, traps, or just as nasty remarks there was no call for.

Take some time to investigate them – where do they come from? Did someone give them to you? Family members, teachers, friends and significant others, random strangers, books and other media can all produce blurts in abundance.

Once you've written them down, you have the option of editing your blurts into positive affirmations. “I have no talent” is one crossed-out word from “I have talent.” “It's too late for me” becomes “It's not too late.” When your blurts are in front of you, instead of inside you, they can be altered, improved, and reversed like any other sentence. Write the new affirmations over again, or say them out loud. Try to do this all week, after you write your morning pages or any time you hear your inner censor.

Daily tasks begin tomorrow. Don't forget to go on a date with your artist sometime this week, and do your morning pages every day!
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By special request for those of you who like to be known, a post for introductions.

Tell us who you are, what you like, and where you'd like to take those creative energies after we tear down a couple walls. Or just introduce yourself in whatever way is comfortable.

All optional, of course!


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Twelve-week creativity workshop!

August 2014

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