The Artist’s Way

I wish I could be disciplined enough to write one post a day instead of churning three or four posts out in one day and then ignoring my wordpress for two weeks. I think if I was a reader I would be confused. My brother-in-law gets confused easily. He likes to follow along on my writing, which is really cool to me, but whenever I write posts all at once, he thinks he has fallen behind. So in advance, Daniel, I do apologize. This is merely the third post I will be writing today. Perhaps it will be the last, though. You might catch up quickly!

The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, doesn’t remind me of the previous books I’ve read. Before I couldn’t stop writing about the book I was reading, whether it was “Fifty Tools” or “On Writing.” Now, though, I am in a little bit of trouble. I am on page 177, and I think I have found only one or two things to comment on.

First, it amazes me how with each writing book, specifically this one, there is an element of spiritualism. Almost each book I have read so far uses a Bible verse as an illustration, and even in this book, Cameron builds her entire premise on “spiritual electricity.” Somehow writers seem to understand two things: 1) the Bible is well written, and 2) writing is not done alone. Writers need Someone bigger–God–to be part of the writing process.

Secondly, The Artist’s Way is more than a writing book. It covers a new part of the creative journey. Instead of offering technical tips to writing better, Cameron says, “Come, go on a journey with me, a journey of recovery.”

Do you like to create but you are afraid to? Do you take time to have fun in a day, treat yourself well, dream big, and actually live the life you would you like to? Julia Cameron walks college students through this book every semester, but she wrote this book specifically with independent students in mind. Laid out in a twelve-week format, there is a brief chapter to read at the beginning of the week and a set of tasks to do throughout the week.

The tasks are not hard; they are actually quite easy, and I think I would enjoy doing a lot of them: “list twenty things you enjoy doing; describe five traits you like in yourself as a child; list five people you wish you had met who are dead,” etc.

They are simple, yet they make a point. How well do you know yourself? Are you living as God created you–free and completely alive–or are you churning through life, addicted to “what gets you by” or numbs you out so you can’t feel, so you don’t have to deal with the black hole you are wallowing in? Are you living life?

The Artist’s Way is about living a journey, about growing, about dreaming, and Cameron has laid out all the steps; I would encourage anyone to read through her book. If life is monotonous and gloomy, think of The Artist’s Way as a helping hand to see sunshine. Try some of the tasks. I started writing “Morning Pages” (write three pages of random everything each morning), and although I don’t end up writing every morning, I love to write them when I do. They give me a voice, and they pin my ideas down on paper.

Yet I would offer one warning. Don’t expect this book to bring about full recovery from discouragement, frustration, co-dependency, or depression. It won’t come. These expectations are too high for a single book written by human hands. We are all only people. God has to be involved.

God is the one who brings healing. Jesus Christ came, died and rose again, offering us freedom, peace and true life. He is holding out life, abundant life, to each of us. All we have to do is accept it, asking Him to save us. We can’t do it on our own, no matter how many well-written books we read or how many growth-processes we have worked through. Jesus Christ, as the true Healer, worked many miracles among the people in Israel, and He’s still in the miracle-business today. Ask Him to help you. He will.

So, do find a copy of Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, and have fun discovering more about yourself. Work through pain and hurts, delight in watching song birds and sunrises again. Write. Paint. Draw. Go horse back riding, scuba diving that trip to Australia you always wanted to make. Delight in being who God created you to be.

Cameron’s book can help; I know it would have helped me over the past three years as I’ve been growing and climbing my own seven-story mountain. Her book helped me today: “Oh, so other people go through stuff like this too!”

It would have been nice reading through The Artist’s Way earlier in my life as God rebuilt this broken reed and helped me learn how to dance again.

“One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” -Andre Gide