Principles of The Artist’s Way

Principles of The Artist's Way |

I was first introduced to The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron by my mom 15+ years ago and it changed my life in many ways.  This may sound a little dramatic but it’s true.

Principles of The Artist's Way |

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

I’ve found that this is a book that people either really love or really hate, with very few in between. It IS a book on spirituality, so if that’s not your thing, you may not like it.  And many religious (and very non-religious) people think it’s just new age malarky (pretty sure those are the exact words). But if you’re interested on exploring how to tap into your creative self, I suggest you give it a try. I think it is written ambiguously enough that it could fit into almost any personal belief system.

One more side note.  I think the title itself is a little deceptive, only because, when someone says “artist,” immediately many people think painter or sculptor or maybe a writer. Her basic premise is that everyone is creative at their very core.  So I really do think that many of the ideas in this book is applicable to everyone from architect to accountant. Your mileage may vary.

There are 12 principles of The Artist’s Way.  I have them written in my bullet journal in a simple list, but I wanted to create a prettier presentation, so I’m attempting to channel @decadethirty and put each of the principles into something much nicer to look at (although, I’m much messier than she is, mine are more like scribbles rather than little pieces of art!).

Anyway, here is the first principle:

Principles of The Artist's Way |

Do you have any thoughts about this principle? I’ve been thinking about this recently but I don’t have anything really profound to share at the moment.

I will continue to draw out the other 11 principles throughout the coming weeks.

Beyond these principles, and, honestly, what I feel to be the most important part of The Artist’s Way are the following two practices, and I do believe these can be life changing.

Morning pages
The first practice is doing morning pages, every day, first thing in the morning.  This consists of writing out, by hand, 3 pages worth of, well, anything that comes to mind.

This isn’t great literature, this isn’t even journaling.  It’s a brain dump of anything that comes out of your head and onto your paper.  It’s not for anyone else to read and it may not be for you to ever read again.  It’s just a general stream of consciousness coming out of you.  It may bring absolutely nothing of consequence or it may bring up emotions to the surface that are difficult to deal with, but the point is that you’re getting it out of your mind.

I kept morning pages in a cheap composition notebook consistently for about a year, filling 2 1/2 of those notebooks.  I think the power is that it enables you to empty your mind of stuff you don’t need to be there, and leaves room for other, more productive thoughts. Any time I feel creatively blocked, I return to doing morning pages again.

**I read recently that Rivers Cuomo, of the band Weezer, writes morning pages.

This is definitely NOT something I would recommend doing in your bullet journal, at least not the full 3 pages worth every morning, since it would take up too much space.  Like I said, I used cheap, comp books when I did it and I don’t think I’ve read them since.

Artist Dates
The second practice is taking yourself on an artist date. This isn’t anything really elaborate, in fact, the simpler, the better. I believe she considers it to basically be tapping into your inner child, but it doesn’t have to be silly either.  Unless, that’s something YOU want to do.

An artist date could be walking through an antique store, just window shopping.  Or buying a brand new coloring book and a box of crayons and sitting in a park, coloring. It’s something that feeds your creative soul in a very simple way.

I stole this list from this blog, and there are 81 more ideas there for what you can do on an artist date:

  1. Visit an artist’s supply shop.
  2. Spend some time outdoors with your journal, sketchbook, craft supplies, etc.
  3. Go for a walk, and take your camera with you to document the experience.
  4. Stop by the library, and check out some CDs.
  5. Set a timer, and spend an hour working on something you’ve been putting off.
  6. Create an artist’s workspace in your home.
  7. See an Oscar-nominated movie or a foreign film.
  8. If you don’t have an artist’s blog, start one.
  9. Visit a “creative” shop that has nothing to do with what you actually do–an art supply store, a fabric shop, a music store.
  10. Grab a stack of magazines, and clip whatever looks interesting or cool to create your own inspiration board.
  11. Support the local arts scene. Go to a local festival, music event, art show, play, museum exhibit, etc.
  12. Plant something. Start your own herb garden. Butterfly garden. Plant a tomato or some bulbs. Try a “guerilla garden,” and scatter seeds randomly somewhere to see what grows.
  13. Spend an hour going through your books. Pick ten to read or re-read and ten to donate to charity.
  14. Go to a thrift store. Give yourself $5 to spend and find something really great that you can do something creative with.
  15. Take a walk on a nature trail. Take your camera.
  16. Write a letter – longhand, on pretty paper – to an old friend.
  17. Give yourself a beauty treatment – a cuticle treatment, a foot soak, exfoliation, hot oil treat, etc.
  18. Go sit at the pond and play in your sketchbook.
  19. Visit all of your childhood playhouse and fort sites.
  20. Sit in the driveway and make designs with pretty rocks. Sing campfire songs.

I think you could adapt many of these ideas to make them bullet journal related–Go to a park and creating mandala or zentangle pages.  Create a special space for you to work on your journal.  Buy one new pen that you’ve been wanting to write with.  There are many ways to incorporate these suggestions with your bullet journal.

Have any of you tried morning pages?  What was your result?  How about artist dates?  Do you have any suggestions that you’ve tried that aren’t listed?



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