Last summer, I found Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way. While this book wasn’t new, it was new to me, and quickly became my lifeline. I had not been able to write in almost a year, and feared I would never write again. Multiple reasons contributed to this creative block: fear of failure, insecurity, self-doubt. I had completed my first manuscript, but then found myself at a loss for what to do next. And I allowed some brutal criticism from a trusted friend to crush me completely, paralyzing me to do anything—creative or mundane.
Feeling lost creatively and personally, I began the process of the morning pages—three pages of stream of consciousness journaling first thing each morning. Within a couple of days, it became a practice I eagerly anticipated and protected at all costs. No one was reading these pages, not even me. But I was writing again for the first time in a year, which began to open a door to my creative spirit and my creative dreams.
While I tried to follow the activities of the 12-week curriculum outlined in the book, I was more successful some weeks than others, repeating some weeks many times. The most troublesome weeks encouraged me to gently nurture my inner artist. First, however, I had to find a way to believe that I had an inner artist.
Throughout these same months, I moved to a new city, redefined my career, rebuilt my relationships, and cleaned up the mess from a chaotic year…. No matter what was happening around me, I remain committed to my morning pages. And through them, I began to regain my own creativity—and appreciate the creative order at work both in my life and in the world.
I use the word order with a bit of caution. I am not talking about rules here, not law and order whatsoever. What I’m describing is how my thinking became more cohesive, and Ibecame more solidand grounded. And my own guidance—call it divine guidance or creative guidance—rather than feeling chaotic, arbitrary, or random, seemed to mirror this cohesiveness, revealing an expansive and orderly cosmic flow. The universe began to feel like a nurturing place, a safe place for my creativity and artist child to come out and play.
Last week, I completed The Artist’s Way process with a group, this time in the prescribed twelve weeks. The support of the group, fellow travelers on the creative path, was enormously helpful. Having cleared out a great deal of chaos and noise over the previous six months, I brought new energy, health, and enthusiasm to the process. The first time through the material, I was unblocking my life, clearing out distractions and clutter. This second time through, I recovered my voice and discovered that people like hearing what I have to say.
As adults, we don’t often measure our growth in blocks of time. Children, on the other hand, are easy: I saw my 11-month old nephew just three weeks ago, and now he has two new top teeth and is standing on his own. This is not to say that as adults we don’t change in three weeks, three months, or threeyears, but for the most part, we don’t think of our lives evolving and changing in time.
But looking back over these past three months, I am celebrating tremendous changes in all areas of my life. I am writing again, which started with this blog in January. I have found creative courage, dusting off a completed manuscript I had abandoned (what Julia Cameron calls our creative U-turns), and falling in love with this project all over again. For fun, I have started creating visual art, a welcome reprieve for my very verbal mind. Freelance clients have found me, allowing me to work on projects that allow my creative brain to connect with my analytic mind—and vice versa. And of course, I continue my daily morning pages, trusting answers and creativity to appear onthe page.
My newfound connections and creativity haven’t been limited to art, creative projects, or my morning ramblings. This newfound creative energy has seeped into all areas of my life. I am recovering my health and well-being, finding great doctors for a health issue I had ignored, and giving up a twenty-six year addiction to Diet Coke. I have opened my heart and mind, making room for forgiveness for some vexing creative wounds. And I am meeting up with fellow creators on this mysterious, expansive, exhilarating, creative, and cohesive path. Clearly, I am heading in the direction of my soul’s desire.
I am deeply grateful to Julia Cameron for following her creative guidance to write The Artist’s Way nearly twenty years ago. And I am so thankful to have shared my journey over the past three months with such a supportive group of creative people. But the completion of this phase of my creative journey marks the beginning of another, making me wonder where I’ll be three months from now.
We don’t often measure our own growth and creative expansion in blocks of time, but I am starting to think that maybe we should. If we periodically paused to celebrate how far we have come, then we might make a more conscious commitment to give voice to our creative dreams.