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The Artist’s Way: 3 Powerful Life-Changing Things I Learned

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After I finished The Artist’s Way, I never saw myself—or life—the same way again.

I live for these moments in life. 

Moments when you come across a person, idea, experience, or meal that changes you somehow. It changes you deeply and meaningfully and fills your heart with gratitude. You never quite go back to who you were. 

I mean, you could, but why would you? 

If you’ve never heard of The Artist’s Way (audible), it’s a classic self-help book written by Julia Cameron, promised as “A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self.” Cameron takes you through a powerful 12-week system that is profoundly satisfying and mandatory therapy for everyone. 

Get ready for a new chapter in your life. 

She says, “Whether you declare yourself an artist or not, you make creative choices every day.” Her belief is everyone is creative.

So, even if you don’t consider yourself creative, chances are you are. The Artist’s Way can help you unclog those drains and let your inner artist flow. 

Below are the three ways The Artist’s Way changed my life.

3-life-changing-things-I-learned-from-the-Artist's-Way-2

1. The Daily Rituals You Choose Matter

I confess that I have spent my adult life exploring my creativity. I studied many creative disciplines, dabbling occasionally, but never fully understood how to command my imagination or creative instincts.

I never felt confident with my creativity. I didn’t know if I could even consider myself a creative person, let alone have the chops to earn a living using my imagination. Although I desperately wanted to. In retrospect, those thoughts meant: will other people like what I create? 

Besides having a mindset block, my daily habits didn’t match the daily habits of a working artist. Sure, I had a day job, read industry news, and watched films to keep current, but I didn’t have a disciplined daily routine that provided a structure for my creativity. 

Cameron gives you two rituals (morning pages and artist’s dates—more below) that she calls “creative recovery tools.” And I dare say if you do them consistently, something will come out of it. If you don’t believe me, read more of my story to see. 

2. Monogamy is Not Your Best Friend

The modern world has brainwashed us into believing that we can only enjoy one vocation, pursuit, or activity. You probably have multiple talents.

The mindset that you can only pursue one interest in life is dangerous. This limited way of thinking cuts us off from our most authentic nature: we, as human beings, are dynamic individuals with more than one skill given to us at birth. 

We shouldn’t have to suppress, reject, or neglect our other callings because society wants us to be linear or because we won’t get paid for it. 

Yes, having a primary focus and earning a living through it is wise, but we can have secondary skills that support our careers. Whether you make a living from it or not, it’s perfectly natural to have several interests, even if they have nothing to do with each other. 

If I sound like I’m ranting, it’s because I am!

I guess I’m trying to say: go, explore, my friend.

Exploring, learning, and curiosity is not only for children. It’s for adults, too. 

What if Anthony Bourdain told himself not to write the personal essay that put him on the map because he’s a cook and not a writer? 

What if Julia Child said she didn’t deserve to write her cookbook because she works in advertising? 

What if Arnold Schwarzenegger limited himself to only bodybuilding for the rest of his life?

What if Steve Jobs didn’t follow his instincts and take that calligraphy class that felt so random at the time? 

In fact, it’s advantageous to pursue secondary hobbies and interests. It’s widely known that the violin helped Albert Einstein relax, focus, and solve creative problems. 

3. The Artist’s Way Solidified Who I Am At My Core

Bottom line: the most important thing this book taught me is who I am at my very core. It was a magical revelation, and it attests to the true power of this book if you keep at it. 

I started the 12-week system in June and finished in September. After finishing, I stopped going on artist dates but religiously did my morning pages daily. I hardly ever miss a day. It continues to be a core part of my morning routine, like brushing my teeth.

Nine months later, I had a sudden revelation. By this point, nine months had gone by, and I had already forgotten about the book.

It sounds a little cheezy, but I was sitting in a cafe, and a lightbulb went off. It was the first time that I’d considered myself an artist—something I had never taken ownership of before. If you remember earlier, I wasn’t even sure that I could consider myself a creative individual. 

I am an artist—at the very core of my existence—whether or not I get compensated for my pursuits. My temperament. The way I operate. The way I see the world. This is who I am. I’m finally able to see that truth in myself. 

I’m not exactly sure what happened in the nine months leading up to the revelation, but I have a feeling it had something to do with the two rituals. The rituals gave me discipline. And the discipline, in turn, helped solidify my identity. 

I actively schedule my creative rituals like a professional and do not wait around like an amateur. I can connect deeper with myself through morning pages and connect deeper with the world around me through artist dates. 

I still can’t figure out whether the system helped me discover my creativity or recover it. Or maybe it was a little bit of both. But the system did what Julia Cameron promised it would do—unlock me.

So trust the book and the work; the truth will be around the corner when you least expect it.  

2 Rituals from The Artist’s Way

Morning Pages

You’ve probably heard of morning pages before. Some people need this ritual as they need air. I confess I’m one of them. I’ve been doing morning pages for two years now. It’s rare, but on some days, for whatever reason, I skip my morning pages. On those days, I find myself feeling a little empty and incomplete. 

So, what exactly are morning pages? It’s journaling with a few tweaks and constraints but, ultimately, a freeing process. All you have to do is write three pages long-hand, stream-of-consciousness style. 

Writing in a stream of consciousness means writing without stopping until you complete three pages. Don’t worry about writing in complete sentences or editing. Half the time, your thoughts won’t even make any sense and will likely be gibberish. 

The idea behind morning pages is that we are in the top layer of our consciousness most of the time. I’m sure you’ve heard of the term “monkey brain.” We have so many thoughts bouncing around: our daily errands, how some stranger pissed us off, or our family problems. 

To get to the deeper creative parts of ourselves, we have to find a way to calm our monkey brain and let it all out. Morning Pages is a form of writing meditation. Do it enough and watch it center you. 

Artist Dates

Artist dates are scheduled alone time to nurture your inner artist. Cameron calls this time a “play date.” A time with yourself to “fill the well.”

She recommends blocking out at least 2-hours to do things alone. That means lovers, friends, children, family, or coworkers are not allowed. 

Find activities that you enjoy and make you curious. It can be anything from enjoying cultural food in a different neighborhood or a day at the beach to a weekend getaway. 

The only rule is: do it alone, in solitude. 

Artist Date Ideas

  • A walk in the park, beach, or countryside
  • A museum
  • Window shopping at your favorite stores
  • Go to an apothecary store 
  • Cooking a new meal at home with some wine
  • Picnic in the park
  • A bike ride through the city
  • Take your camera out 
  • Go to the farmer’s market
  • Go vintage shopping
  • Julia Cameron herself also has a fantastic list of 101 ideas.

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Hi, welcome! I'm Susan, the creator and writer of Manifestaire. My mission is to help you explore the powers of your being so you can create a magical life you love! Here, you can find articles on manifestation, spirituality, metaphysics, yoga, wellness, and so much more.
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