The tools of The Artist’s Way, which have been working for several decades in “regular times,” are also tools that will work for us in our current, “irregular” times.
The tools are aimed at unlocking creativity. They give us a sense of optimism, they give us a sense of adventure, and they help to fight the claustrophobia that many of us may be feeling.
THE TWO BASIC TOOLS
MORNING PAGES: three pages of longhand, stream-of-consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning.
There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages. They are about anything and everything— and they are not to be shared with anyone. Yes, they must be done by hand. Yes, they must be done in the morning. If we do “evening pages,” we are reflecting on a day that we have already had, and are powerless to change. Morning Pages empower us and give us clarity, helping us to find tiny choice points in the day ahead.
I think that right now, with our enforced solitude, many of us find ourselves becoming more introspective. The pages channel that introspection. Many of us are asking ourselves, “Who am I without all of my outer accoutrements? Who am I without my office, my social life, my gym, my travel schedule…” and the answer to “Who am I?” is what comes to us through writing Morning Pages. I think that when we are feeling trapped, isolated and alone, this tool is particularly valuable.
THE ARTIST DATE: a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to do something fun.
I have been flooded with questions about Artist Dates. “How can I take an Artist Date while I am quarantined?” person after person has asked me. In short, we can’t take Artist Dates— as we know them— right now. But with a little imagination, we can chase— and discover— the feeling of expansion that they bring us.
In normal times, Artist Dates are small adventures pursued solo outside the house. In the times we live in now, Artist Dates are small adventures pursued within the confines of our own homes. There are many ways to fill your time with a sense of adventure. Listening to music that you don’t usually listen to. Trying a podcast that seems “too frivolous.” Trying a craft that seems “too silly.” I’ve heard tell of carpentry projects in the basement, vision boards on the refrigerator, re-reading children’s books, baking cakes. Students have reported candlelit baths with rainbow, fizzing bath bombs, explorations into hand lettering, homemade nail art using Swarovski crystals found online, learning to knit. I personally have taken to choosing a familiar and beloved object— one I’ve seen so often that I no longer “see” it— and sketching it, connecting to both the object and its memories anew. Artist Dates are not high art. Artist Dates are meant to be fun. Ask yourself, “What sounds delightful? What have I been drawn to that I might have written off as a waste of time, too silly, too frivolous?” Try doing that.
I also suggest looking at the tasks at the end of each chapter of The Artist’s Way. Many of them lend themselves perfectly to being “indoor Artist Dates.” As we pursue the tasks, we learn what we want, and who we are. In short, we fall in love with ourselves.
Everyone is creative, whether we call ourselves “artists” or not. The Artist’s Way has always been a personal journey. And so, our enforced solitude brings us close to the spirit of the book.
It is my hope that during this period of uncertainty, we lean into our creativity, awakening our spirit, so that we feel more deeply alive.
~ Julia Cameron
Santa Fe, New Mexico