The Artist’s Way is a workbook and program, developed by Julia Cameron and designed to help artists of all kinds (including writers) to be more creative. It’s structured as twelve weeks of exercises. Each week, there’s a chapter to read on a specific topic, and a number of exercises to be done to help you work through the issue of the week. You also take yourself on an “artist date” once a week and write “morning pages” daily – those are three pages of stream-of-consciousness written long hand, as close to the time you awaken as possible.
The first time I did the program was in November 1995. I know this because I wrote the date in my print copy of the book. I’d just survived a challenging situation with my publisher at the time, which had upset me enough that I wasn’t writing. I tried the program, figuring I had nothing to lose, and it worked. That challenging situation was a first, but not by any means the last such incident with a publisher. Over the years, I have repeated the course a number of times, discovering something new each time I work through the exercises. It’s made me much more robust creatively, and repeating the exercises takes me to new strengths each time. The morning pages are extraordinarily effective in clearing my mind of junk, so much so that I always wonder when I start to do them again why I ever stopped doing them.
Over the past few years, I’ve become my own publisher. This has its pros and cons, and although I love being responsible for all facets of taking my work to market, it’s not without its stresses and concerns. I find it too easy to take care of just one more thing each day, instead of getting to my writing, probably because administrivia demands time and a little attention, but not so much creative energy. I also dislike having long To Do lists and am inclined to want to strike off the easy items. Once again, I find myself not writing as much or as readily as I’d like: nineteen years after my first experience of the program, it’s clearly time to revisit the exercises in The Artist’s Way again.
This is my week #1. NaNoWriMo will be smack in the middle of this pass through the book, which is a very good thing. I also like that my week #12, the last week of the program, will be the week that ends with Christmas. I think this is a good way to end the year, and hope to write not only The Warrior’s Prize (which will be published December 29, right after my course is completed), but also Firestorm Forever. I’d also like to get some new projects rolling which are planned for 2015 publication. If you’d like to join me, I welcome your company and comments. I’ll post each Monday about my progress.
Away we go!