The Artist’s Way has been one of the formative books on creativity since it was first published in 1992. This 200 page book reads like a course on a journey of self-discovery. It takes time (ideally about 12 weeks), commitment, and openness – but you will learn a lot about yourself, what fuels your creativity, and what keeps you creating.
I’ve gone on this 12-week journey several times, sometimes following all of its elements, and sometimes only partially. Sometimes I have discovered something new, sometimes I was reminded of something I already knew, but had forgotten. Every time I have enjoyed the process of making time to create and reconnect to my Artist.
It’s not a fast read or programme. You might pick it up and it might not resonate, but a couple months later you pick it up and it clicks. You have to be in the right state of mind to be able to appreciate the journey and take it on. What I like most is that it emphasizes our main MINDSHIFT principles of personal accountability and self awareness in relation to creativity.
Here are my five favourite lessons from The Artist’s Way that can help you do better by thinking better:
- I am an Artist
You start off my deconstructing your inner narrative about being an Artist (capital A). It asks the reader to have the audacity to actually call him/herself an Artist, and to do so without hesitation, fear, guilt, embarrassment, or whatever other negative feelings may emerge. This becomes the foundation on which the book builds. From the beginning you are made to say: I am an Artist. Then you go on a journey from there, learning and working with your Artist.
- Rekindle the joy of creating
The book reminds you early on that you are in this because you love it. Because there is a joy to creating that connects you to yourself and the world. This joy needs care and attention. Again, it needs a new narrative. From Artists Dates, to various programme activities the book offers, Cameron challenges you to reconnect to your Artist and rekindle the joy and love of creating. This process is supposed to break up your regular routine and inspire new insights. This requires you to be open to it, trust it and commit.
- Cut out the noise
You learn early on who is helping your growth and who is hindering it. It is your job to ensure you cut out the noise that is feeding old and unhelpful narratives. You learn to identify dangers and protect your space. These old thought patterns are strong, addictive, and therefore have a greater pull than the new pathways we are trying to build. We have to be cognisant that the people around us will either feed into our destructive patterns or empower us forward. It’s your responsibility to consciously choose what stays and goes within your ecosystem.
- Creating begets creation
This journey pushes you take responsibility for your own artistic development. It is not owed to you, and no one will do the work for you. You learn that creating inspires more creations. You learn that consistency is your best friend and that you just have to commit to showing up and doing the work. There is no sexy secret. When you reconnect to your Artist, and you are conscious of your narrative, you soon learn that you are able to be accountable for what you create and how you create it.
- Morning Pages
Morning Pages is probably one of the most essential tools I have picked up. I use it often. It has morphed into different shapes and uses. You have probably encountered this tool in different forms and by different names, e.g. a brain dump. We teach versions of this principle to our various clients for different purposes. What they all have in common is a simple principle. Your brain cannot hold everything all at once and still have room for new insights. We need to help this process by not making our brain work so hard. That’s why we do shopping lists, take notes, and write in journals. We decide actively what we want our brain to work on and what we don’t. Morning Pages is a great tool to clear your space in your head and make room for new insights.
The book is not without its critics, but it also has a huge fan base. I found if you quiet your inner judgemental critic, and even your inner devotee looking for a guru, you can find yourself somewhere in the middle. Somewhere you are open enough to try, learn, experience, but wise enough to know you have to figure out the rest on your own – this is where you get the most from your journey.
We are committed to helping you do better by thinking better, and helping you find the right tools + resources is an integral part of reaching that goal. Share with us what lessons you learned from The Artist’s Way or other tools + resources that propel you forward.
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