Artist Way

Artist Way Cameron

“Do not call procrastination laziness. Call it fear. Fear is what blocks an artist. The fear of not being good enough. The fear of not finishing. The fear of failure and of success. The fear of beginning at all. There is only one cure for fear. That cure is love. Use love for your artist to cure its fear. Stop yelling at yourself. Be nice. Call fear by its right name.”

Julia Cameron, Artist Way, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity

When I suggest to friends about writing as a spiritual practice, most begin by saying they don’t know how to start or they have no talent as a writer. It is not their gift. The best antidote to this fear of writing or this feeling of inadequacy as a writer is Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist Way. Cameron suggests starting to write by rising in the morning and writing “morning pages”, which she calls the “primary tool of creative recovery”. These are three longhand pages of whatever comes into your mind. It does not have to make sense. It is a listening exercise in the morning, imagining that it is the hand of God moving through our hand as we write. I have also experienced this exercise as a clearing or cleaning out the garbage in my head. Fearful thoughts stay powerful in my head, but when I put them on paper, some of their power over me goes away, and in some way, I am turning them over, releasing them to God, and the creative process begins. Cameron recommends that at night we pray for guidance, and ask for answers. The morning pages are a process of listening for the answers as the day begins.

 I often write down on the inside cover of books the date when I started reading them. As I reread Cameron’s book, I pull back her cover and see a date seventeen years ago. Memories flood in of the book group I read Artist Way with over one summer at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church. I especially remember Lee who had been the chair of my discernment committee who was a mentor to me, an encourager of creativity. This experience also is a reminder of how it is even more fun to read, write, and work through a book like Artist Way in a weekly book study group as you work together through the book’s many suggested activities and exercises. Today I also am reminded of how just writing down a date can be a powerful spiritual writing.