Have you Chipmunks heard of this book, The Artist’s Way? In Hollywood circles they treat it like the holy grail of creativity.
Or so I’m told.
And I’m not saying they shouldn’t. I love this book.
I’ve read The Artist’s Way not once, not twice, but THRICE. In fact, when I made the recent move to tiny living, it’s one of the only books I kept.
Because…well, we’ll get to that. First let me explain what it is.
Basically, The Artist’s Way is a 12-week program whose goal is to unleash your creative kraken.
Each week, you read one of twelve chapters and follow the assignments and prompts, all the while committing to regular daily and weekly exercises. So when I say I’ve “read” it thrice, I mean I’ve DONE it thrice. (…That’s what she said.)
See that? Yeah, that was the result of one of the trademark assignments in The Artist’s Way, from one of my weekly “artist’s dates.” On these artist’s dates, you must go do something that delights you, and you cannot -I repeat, cannot- bring anyone with you.
That particular week, back in 2000, I thought taking photos of “typical New York City life” in black and white was absolutely essential. I was 18 years old, boldly hopping the train from suburban New Jersey and traveling one whole hour into Manhattan. I wore all black, feeling
above on top of the whole world…until someone my age commented, “Where ya going? A funeral?”
I brushed it off (except for the part where I vividly remember that comment nearly two decades later), got the film developed, framed that shit, and thought, Here we go, I. Am. An. Artist.
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During my most recent attempt with The Artist’s Way, in my late 20s, I found out the book had become a trilogy.
Yeah. So. Thirty-six weeks of waking up at 5:30am every day to squeeze in 30 minutes of stream-of-consciousness journaling before driving an hour to my day job so I could still beat traffic.
Each and every time I
read did The Artist’s Way, I found some of that magical “flow.” I experienced the synchronicity that Julia Cameron, the author, loves to talk about.
But I kept sweeping away what seemed like, on some level, a pesky mouse trying to cross the threshold into my just-fine-thank-you-very-much home. (And sorry to anyone with brooms, and to mice everywhere; I honor and respect you and don’t know what I’m allowed to use as metaphors anymore. But since I’m a) a woman, b) a person who has swept things, and c) vegan, I’m going to go ahead and assume I get a pass on that last one.)
Obviously, the book wasn’t the problem.
I’m 36 now. So that’s eighteen years and three attempts with The Artist’s Way, collectively adding up to, what? A little over a year of prioritizing my creativity? And I wonder why things stagnate?
Don’t listen to your [relative/friend/colleague/inner critic/cat], Chipmunks.
Being an artist is hard work.
And it’s every bit as valuable as whatever else is taking up your time.
Even if you still can’t seem to get anyone to buy your black and white photographs…
Have you read The Artist’s Way (or anything similar)? Did it help you?