The Artist’s Way – a course in discovering and recovering your creative self
By Ali Baker
This time last year whilst taking some time to consider my goals and dreams for 2015, I realized that I wanted to find a course to feel more creative. I’ve dipped my toe in over the years, but mainly denied the claim ‘that we’re all artists.’ But with a long-standing dream of wanting to write a book since childhood, filling journals and saying that’s one for the book since the year dot, it was time to find my way in the creative world.
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron has sat on my bookshelf for several years, barely opened before I’ve dismissed it with: ‘I haven’t got time to do that.’ With hindsight, it was the fear of ‘unblocking’ my creative spirit that was preventing me from opening the book, plus a dollop of commitment phobia and of giving MYSELF time to do an activity on a regular basis.
Anyway, the time was right last January and rather than pay lots of dollars for an online course, I decided to take the book off the shelf and read it. I’d found what I needed, and it had been sitting there waiting patiently for me to open my eyes.
The course is a twelve week self-directed program with only two have to do’s – the Morning Pages and a weekly Artist’s Date.
Yes, the Morning Pages are one more thing to incorporate into your day, but it’s your time to be quiet and let the detritus of the subconscious mind empty, without censorship, onto the page. It’s an opportunity to explore and you don’t need to be a writer to do it.
We all have choices. We make them everyday. This is the other course requirement: to choose an artist’s date. To do something for and by yourself which will inspire you. The idea is that by actively practicing self-care and valuing yourself enough, you indulge the inner artist like a child with some creative play.
The result? Your sense of wellbeing is boosted. You may create or do something you’re proud of and in my experience you get more of the ‘have to do’ stuff done easily and quickly, because your spirit has been nurtured.
Some of my dates included visiting an art exhibition, buying nice smelling candles, driving an unknown road to see where it took me, spending an hour in a bookshop and parking on the side of the road to draw a row of trees in charcoal that I pass most days.
Organizing artist dates was considerably harder than getting up at 6.15 to scrawl the morning pages! How back to front is that! According to Ms Cameron, this is because ‘it is far easier to get people to do the extra work of the morning pages than it is to get them to do the assigned play of an artist date. Fun is scary.’
Revelations like this occur throughout. I understand how and why I’ve blocked my creativity over the years through thought provoking essays and simple tasks included in the course. Knowing where old beliefs come from make them a lot easier to let go of. And when they pop back up as they invariably do, I’m able to see them now and remind myself they are in the past and no longer serve me.
The biggest take away from doing this simple self-led course is that self-belief in my abilities comes from turning up regularly, taking action consistently and nurturing myself often.
- Do you allow yourself time to be creative?
- Are you excited or scared by playing as well as being an adult?
- How do you express yourself creatively?
The first step is acknowledging our creative selves and that we are all artists. (I totally do now!)
I’ve done the course with a small group of women online. Together we celebrated and worked through issues whilst lovingly supporting each other. It’s our natural tendency to help out, chat and make supportive networks for ourselves. I am happy to talk and help anybody who is interested in knowing more about the course or who wants to explore their creativity. www.ali-baker.com