Book Review

The Artist’s Way – Julia Cameron

A good friend of mine,  Alison Smith  recommended this book on creative writing. I believe we pick up a book meant for us when we need it most. I was wading through a particularly dry writing spell when it came my way. Absorbing the content felt like I was waiting for it all my life!

Julia Cameron is a writer, filmmaker and teacher of creative unblocking. She was married for a short stint to Martin Scorsese, an accomplished filmmaker and director of ground-breaking movies such as Taxi and the Godfather. Their union produced a daughter.

Alcohol consumed Julia’s existence, reaching a tipping point where she desperately needed to sober up or her career could end abruptly. Her greatest fear was losing the gift of creativity whilst breaking the addiction. Courageously she handed over the reins of insecurity to the God of her understanding, becoming unblocked in the process.

The spiritual awakening she encountered led to a journey of teaching artists to discover and recover their creative selves. One of the reasons this book gripped me was the similarities conveyed to the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 step program. Ironically it contains 12 chapters, each steering the reader into opening their minds to a power greater than themselves to achieve creative success.

The writing is impeccable, sung in an angelic voice, warming one’s soul. It’s a workbook, with tasks to perform after each chapter, tuning yourself in as an artist. She introduces morning pages, a three page must-do to be fulfilled on a daily basis. The beauty of self-examination is pouring your worries on paper granting you freedom to navigate the day without baggage.

The reader is encouraged to go on artist dates. She refers to the artist within as a child, requiring nurturing, fun times and most significantly, treated like a precious object. Each week one is tasked to date yourself, undertaking activities that bring joy to your spirit. This doesn’t mean expensive treats – a walk on the beach, indulging in a slice of cake at a quaint coffee shop or placing colourful flowers at strategic spots where creativity can bloom. These special moments reinforce the value and faith you carry as an artist.

She speaks of synchronisation – the belief of asking and you shall receive. Nothing happens by chance, opportunities manifest as a direct result of praying for them and being true to our dreams. These acts present themselves tactically and it’s our duty to recognise them, embrace the blessings, offering gratitude to the grace of God.

Julia dispels many doubts artists battle daily. The notion we need to be literary talents to touch success in the writing world. We barricade ourselves by not trusting God to receive rewards we rightly deserve. There is more than enough for everybody, yet we become cheapskates thinking God wants us to stay in jobs that don’t make us happy, crushing dreams and purpose year after miserable year. We wait for better days, time to do the things we love, validation from others that we’re good enough, when all the tools are at our disposal, yet we’re afraid to leap for fear of failure!

I gained an ocean of insight from this book. Morning pages became habitual. Artist dates were scheduled, allowing the child within to feel special and loved. Synchronisation occurred when I opened my mind to possibility. The creativity I craved trickled out, revealing a rose garden, butterflies and a path of sweet discovery.

If you’re looking for a book to awaken your purpose, pulls you out of the sinking sands of “I can’t”, steers you in the direction of your dreams, I recommend you read the Artist’s Way. A phenomenal five star rating from me!

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