Back in January of 2022, I found out that a good artist friend of mine, Nick Zegel, decided to read “The Artist’s Way”, and had joined a group of artists who were doing the same and checking in with each other weekly on their progress. I’d known about the book for years, of course, but had never had the desire to read it until I found out that an artist who I admire and respect had decided to give it a go. The group participation aspect was also appealing, so I decided to embark on the project also.
I think I’d always been hung up on the book’s subhead: “A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity”. I tend to be distrustful of spirituality and religion in general, due to my upbringing in a very religious family. So even though I decided to keep my mind open about it while reading the book, that was definitely the biggest hurdle I encountered. The author, Julia Cameron, takes pains to emphasize repeatedly that the “God” she references in the book is not the God that your parents and society may have been trying to ram down your throat, but at some point you do have to acknowledge that there is a divine “Creator” responsible for all things, including one’s creativity.
The goal was to read a chapter a week (there are 12) and do the various “tasks” at the end of each chapter. There are also regular tasks or habits required of you, such as writing “morning pages” every day (3 pages written longhand about anything and everything, preferably in the morning before you begin your day), working in a daily creative affirmation, and going on an “artist date” once a week where you do any kind of activity to feed your creativity. I dutifully read the chapters and did my pages and affirmations, but for some reason the artist dates were harder to engineer than I expected. I mostly ended up counting my studio days as artist dates, which kind of felt like cheating.
The real benefit for me, I think, were the weekly Zoom check-in meetings with the group, discussing our progress (or the lack thereof). Most of us were on the west coast, but one regular member was in NY. As the weeks progressed, a “core” group emerged, and by the time we concluded our project with a final meeting on Monday 6/13, the five of us were really comfortable chatting and joking around with each other, and sharing our deeper feelings of insecurity and doubts. We’d started up a group text chat during the final month which really helped motivate us get our morning pages and other tasks done.
All told, it took us over 6 months to get through the book together, as we had to deal with all the many vagaries of life, but we were never on a diehard 12 week deadline so it was a forgiving and nurturing process and at the end I think we all felt a big sense of accomplishment.
In the aftermath, I’m still doing my morning pages (with the help of a great new pen that my husband got me for my birthday), affirmations, incidental artist dates, looking for synchronicity, and rediscovering the sense of joy and play in my art. I can safely say that it has had a big impact on my creativity and general outlook, and has been a positive experience. I thank the Creator 😆 for bringing my Artist’s Way group into my life 🙂🙏