Saturday, 21 January 2012

Writing Is Not A Mystery - Sit Down With Julia Cameron

I'm inherently skeptical, leading ever so slightly toward cynical, so I overcompensate with optimism wherever possible.

When I see people getting into the next New Age thing - I'm the one who starts asking the questions no one wants to hear.

From The Secret to Dr. Emoto and his water molecules to What the Bleep Do We Know?  I'm the one saying, yes, but if you follow the Law of Attraction to its natural conclusion, or so who is this doctor and just how were these experiments done or did you not take high school physics?

That's me.

Imagine my skepticism, back when I was a real New Yorker (no - not a Carrie Bradshaw fake New Yorker), about The Artist's Way.

In truth, I wanted nothing to do with it.  Who is this Cameron woman?  What could she possibly have to say?  How can she be qualified to write this -- how can anybody?

I'm not sure where I first heard about it.  Maybe in CineWomen NY.  As writer's block (which I don't believe in, and I'm sure we'll get to a blog on that in this series) slipped it's ever-creeping hold over me, well, I had to try something.

So I bought a copy of The Artist's Way.

I opened it and read the Introduction.  There was a lot of God stuff and a slightly New Age approach.  There was also a caveat - a way out - a believe what works for you about it.  I liked the quotes (in fact - that is when I started collecting and sharing quotes).  I kept reading.

I committed to the 12-week program.  I knew I had a lot of traveling to do, so I gave myself permission to miss a week, or do a week twice if the schedule got too hectic, or just stay on a week until I made it through.

A lot of stuff comes up, and for once, I promised myself I wouldn't push through like a bulldozer, but I wouldn't give up, either.  I did my morning pages during my first ever Sundance - which involved very little sleep.  In fact, after seeing Slam, I wrote my first ever flow!  In about 16 weeks, I finished The Artist's Way.

I've been doing morning pages (and artist's dates) ever since.  I must recommend this book as a tool to individuals 4 or 5 times a week.  Part of the reason for writing this blog is to have a quick place to point people who ask me what they should be doing.

So.  If you are terribly unsure of how to proceed as a writer, or any other type of creative, get yourself a copy of The Artist's Way.  You can find one anywhere - new, used, at a library.  Sit down with it and decide if it is for you.

But sit down with it.

It may not work for you, but I bet it does.  I picked it up because I was stuck in a screenplay; by the time I put it down, I was well on my way (unbeknownst to me) to being a poet and spoken word artist.  The results may not be what you expected, but there will be results.  You will clear some things out of the way and be able to see new things - ideas, predilections, a path.  Hope.

And the very sneaky thing about The Artist's Way is that it gives you the beginnings of a process.  The most important thing you could have as an artist.  Cameron makes sure that you sit down daily, and that you have a purpose in doing so.  It gives you a place to start - every single day and every week.  Morning pages, Artist Dates, Walks.  Start there and you cannot possibly fail.

(This blog is part of a series - you can look the others up on the side, or go to the blog search and type "writing is not a Mystery" - either should work.)

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