Blogging, humor

Have You Read “The Artist’s Way”? DISCUSS.

Go-Jules-Go-Artists-Way-Coffee-TalkHave 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.

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Go Jules Go midlife crisis reloaded! Everything Must Go!

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.

Go-Jules-Go-Artists-Way-post-kracken-octopus
Aww. My kracken’s so cute! Photo credit (before annotation).

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.)

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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.

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you purchase the linked product, at no additional cost to you. I only ever link to products that I truly love, like these.

During my most recent attempt with The Artist’s Way, in my late 20s, I found out the book had become a trilogy.

Artists-Way-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.

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I found this in my wallet last year. You had no idea I was so deep, did you?

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…

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Have you read The Artist’s Way (or anything similar)? Did it help you?

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Giveaway Junkie

GIVEAWAY WINNER: My New Codependent Friend!

Ahhh. I love settling into writing a post with a crisp, cool, Super Gulp-sized glass of vodka.

Dependency? Moi?
Dependency? Moi?

And hey, as long as we’re on the topic… Let’s talk about my latest blog giveaway contest! To celebrate Independence Day, I asked you to describe the person or thing you were unreasonably attached to – your codependent. One lucky entrant would receive this:

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Boy. Your entries were stellar; I could scarcely pick a favorite angry cat meme. Nevertheless, the time has come to announce the sole winner. And that is…

Anna Lea West from Life Is Funny (Even When it’s Not)!

Anna-Lea-West-gravatarNow is as good of time as any to unload something. I like to drink pickle juice. No, not a quick sip, but LONG pulls once the pickles are gone. No one needs to witness this. The spicier the better. Sooo, I’m hooked on McClure’s Spicy Bloody Mary mix because it’s sort of like drinking spicy pickle juice … with vodka. I am not always good at life. This stuff is insanity and makes me, but for a brief moment, forget my deplorable Cherry Chapstick addiction.

Obviously, we’re a codependent match made in heaven.

See? Sometimes I actually know what I'm talking about. When that something is booze.
Bet you feel pretty pickled after a couple of these! Oh!

Had I planned ahead (Project Management Professional, at your service), I would’ve made this a recipe post.

This could work. This could totally work.
This could work. This could totally work.

Congratulations, Anna! I’ll be in touch via email to award your prize!

Have any summer cocktail recipes to share?

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I'm Going To Chop My Ear Off Any Day Now

A Bout of Sincerity

It must’ve been my recent return to poetry, Chipmunks.

Lately, I’ve felt somethin’ coming on. Sometimes I mistake it for melodrama. Or, at best, awkward earnestness.

That’s right.

Serious writing.

Though never insincere, I wasn’t always all guilty pleasures and goofy PowerPoint presentations. In my teens, humor only crept into my writing via dialogue. Everything else was angst-y and maudlin. I filled dozens of journals with lovesick poetry. Some of it wasn’t half bad.

In college, I discovered writers like Bill Bryson and David Sedaris, and realized that was the genre I wanted to pursue: humorous memoir. I’ve always found the truth more profound with levity. I like it when a protagonist’s journey makes me laugh despite the tears.

Nevertheless, the old poetry itch is back, and I don’t want this blog to suffer for it; we all know this place is the Uncle Jesse to my Aunt Becky. So today I thought I’d just quickly mention something a liiiittle more serious. A little behind-the-scenes look at my writing life.

I spend a lot of time on creative exercises and figuring out how to find and follow my passion(s). I handwrite, stream-of-consciousness style, for 30 minutes every morning, first thing. I take a daily walk, and once a week, I try to go on a mini adventure that sparks my creativity. On Sundays, I spend about an hour or two ‘checking in’ with myself, writing about recurring issues and the little miracles that happen when you get in touch with your creative nature.

Artists-Way-stache-glassesThese practices are, yes, a huge time commitment; I shower at night and get up at 5:30 in the morning to write before I drive an hour to work. But these exercises are a lifesaver for me, and if they sound familiar, you probably read about them in The Artist’s Way. Much like blogging, Julia Cameron’s books have changed my life in unimaginable ways.

They’re the reason I volunteered to help Marlene film the pilot webisode of My Parents Are Crazier Than Yours. The reason I had the nerve to attend my first blogging conference, meet up with Rache from Rachel’s Table, and sign up for that web design class.

Thanks to this blog and The Artist’s Way, I’ve identified concrete goals and watched them spring to life. I’ve learned that if you ask for a creative helping hand, and open yourself to possibility, the universe always delivers. Some of you have been the messengers!

I’ve never met Julia Cameron, have no affiliation with The Artist’s Way, and never thought I’d talk about this here, but my blog has always embraced the things we all love -however logical or…not– without shame. And so: I love these books.

If you’re feeling stuck and really ready to make a change, they might help you, too.

Have you ever read any of The Artist’s Way books? What inspires (or blocks) your creativity?

P.S. – Lest you think I’ve fallen off the guilty pleasure wagon, I’m drinking vodka right now and I’ve got somethin’ spectacular in the works for you later this week. It might be the most bloggy fun I’ve EVER HAD.