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The Artist's Way


I’m going to talk about a creativity-enhancing course I started today.

It’s called _The Artist’s Way_, which styles itself “a spiritual path to higher creativity.” The spiritual part is not an exaggeration–there is a considerable focus on spiritual elements. The author uses these at a metaphor for reaching inside yourself and getting in touch with your inner artist. There are some religious overtones to the whole idea, though the author is clear that you don’t have to believe in God (or anything religious or spiritual) in order to use this book. Fair enough.

I only heard about this because a friend of mine wanted to try it. It’s a twelve-week program and she didn’t want to do it alone, so I agreed to join in. Thus far, all I’ve had to do is read the introduction chapters and write “morning pages” today. Morning pages are one of the key elements of the program: every morning, you are supposed to do some freewriting. It doesn’t need to be about anything, or have any purpose at all. The book calls for 3 pages of longhand, but I don’t have time for that. Instead, I write on the computer for a solid 10 minutes. It was an interesting experience this morning. You aren’t supposed to share what you wrote about, so I won’t. But this is something I am meant to do on a daily basis for the duration of the program, and hopefully beyond.

The second basic tool is the “artist date,” in which you go out and do something you haven’t done before. You are meant to do this by yourself. It helps if it’s an art-related activity, but it doesn’t need to be. I have some concerns about being able to do this on a weekly basis given that I am a single parent and don’t always have a sitter available, but I should be able to figure something out.

Beyond that, there are exercises–lots of them. The course is split into weeks, and you are expected to tackle the exercises listed for that week. I haven’t taken a hard look at them yet, but we’ll see how that goes.

Given that I’m already working on this blog, I won’t say I feel particularly unfulfilled by the level of creativity I’m engaged in currently. I already have a sense that my writing has sharpened by making myself do this every day for the past several months. I can tell that I have become more proficient at taking a basic idea and wringing a short essay from it. On the other hand, this type of writing is more analytical than creative, and I hope this program will help me get back into the creative side a bit more. I have novels sitting around that I need to write, rewrite, polish, and so forth. I just never feel happy enough with them to do anything further. That’s probably more of a mental block than anything else.

As for this blog, I don’t anticipate that I will stop updating it. More in-depth pieces may be less frequent, but I still expect to update it daily, even if it’s just with an interesting link and some comments on it. I figure I should always be able to commit to at least that much. I get the itch to write more detailed posts often enough that I doubt those will ever go away, either. Given that this past week I put together a 5-part series (a first for this blog), I don’t think I am running out of things to say anytime soon. There are times when I feel the need to revisit past concepts, as well, since I am refining my thoughts and beliefs all the time.

I will likely not discuss The Artist’s Way regularly here. I might make brief updates about it on Sundays, and offer up a postscript at the end of the program to talk about the experience as a whole. Since I have yet to complete it, I don’t know if I will be able to recommend it. But it does come to me highly regarded, and certainly has a lot of testimonials in its favor.

I will say that we all have the capacity to be creative in one way or another, and it can only be good for you to pursue it. Creativity is part of the human condition, and we should all embrace it. I don’t mean you should quit your job to pursue art full-time, but definitely make time for yourself to explore it, if at all possible.

Happy creating!