Earlier this year, we (Joy and Elena) started working our way through The Artist’s Way, and we would generously estimate that we made it about three weeks into the journey before life got somewhat overwhelming (which, we think, is very fair – it’s been quite the busy year for us both!). But that is always how it is, isn’t it? There’s always something else going on, something more important, more pressing. It becomes easier and easier to push certain creative projects off to the side when in fact they are what we wanted to be doing all along.
Sometimes what keeps me (Joy) from working on creative projects is that they seem less important than the “other stuff” of life. Cultivating space for creative projects isn’t just a matter of the creative projects themselves, but of having a strong sense of what you want, what is important to you, and what is worth your time and effort. And figuring that out takes time.
One of my (Elena’s) favorite professors at divinity school, who also happened to be a very accomplished novelist, told me once that writing daily isn’t an art, and it isn’t sitting in silence waiting for your muses to appear. It’s a muscle that you exercise. Whether or not you feel like writing – or whatever kind of creative endeavor suits your fancy – the muscle remains reliable as long as you continue to give it some use. There are many different ways to exercise that muscle, but the manner of exercise seems less important than the consistency. And sometimes what we need most for consistency is accountability, or, rather, friendship.
Hence our return to The Artist’s Way.
We both find ourselves at an interesting time in our lives. We’re both sitting in the dust (and surrounded by boxes!) of big changes in our lives with a lot to do, but we both want to be writing, and are in the fortunate position of having time to devote to those projects as we work towards deadlines (some self-imposed and some external, but all pressing nonetheless). To exercise our writing muscles, we need consistency and accountability. So we decided to do The Artist’s Way together, checking in with each other to chat about our experiences working through each of the twelve chapters, which are designed with daily and weekly exercises in mind. We’ll share those conversations here with you, and over the course of this experiment.
The episode above is our first weekly check-in, and explains how each week of our little experiment will work. We hope you’ll enjoy following along – and if you’d like to work your way through The Artist’s Way too, we’d love to hear what the process is like for you!
What is the Artist’s Way:
You may already be familiar with The Artist’s Way, but just in case you aren’t we thought we’d give you a little run down. Julia Cameron’s book is a twelve week program that promises to help you overcome your writer’s block and tap into your innate creativity. Julia Cameron is a successful writer. She created this course in the 90’s with no intention of publishing it, but it has since become something of a cult classic. We are not necessarily disciples of The Artist’s Way (particularly given that neither of us have ever finished it!), but given how highly recommended it comes (and how much writing we need to do over the next few months), we’re excited about committing to this process and seeing where it will take us.
Of the many (many!!) little exercises that Julian Cameron recommends, there are three that readers (or, as Julia would say, “artists) ought to do every week:
Morning Pages: Julia recommends that each morning you complete three pages of long form writing done first thing in the morning, if possible. She calls this your “brain drain.” It can be literally anything. When I (Elena) can’t think of anything to write, I’ll start by describing the space I’m in – what I’m looking at, and what I feel about it, and that’ll usually lead me to something else – and I (Joy) sometimes use them just to describe a friend or something that has happened to me recently. The key is consistency, trying to do it every day.
(psst… we both cheat a little bit on this in our own way. I (Elena) type them because writing by hand for that many pages hurts my hand and I (Joy) use a smaller notebook so the three pages don’t feel overwhelming).
Artist’s Date: Time set aside each week (around two hours) to fill your artistic soul. It can be going to an art museum, taking yourself on a picnic, or giving yourself an at home spa. The point is to pour into your artistic bucket. The writing pages are out and artist dates are in. Do something that nourishes your soul and fills your mind. Think solitude, beauty, and play.
Check in: This is what we (Elena and Joy) will be doing together! It’s a time to reflect on how things are going, what you’ve learned and written, how you are feeling. You can do this by yourself, find a friend to do it with, or engage in discussion here on Substack! In general, we hope to post our weekly check in’s on Saturdays.
Alright, we think that’s all you need to know for now. We hope you’ll join us in this little experiment, and most of all we wish you the loveliest week.
Elena & Joy
P.S. we’re planning to upload these podcasts on Apple, Spotify, etc. but sometimes it takes a little time for a new podcast feed to load. But they should be up there soon!