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The Power of Creativity in the time of the Coronavirus

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


14 Comments on "The Power of Creativity in the time of the Coronavirus"

  1. Karen Eisenacher Earp says:

    Thank you Julia: I was inspired at the gathering of the creatives to start my own Artist’s Way group. I was planning on starting the group on the book in May (trying to assemble a group in the meantime), but I think some people would like to start next week due to these unusual times. But I wanted to share the odd synchronicity with you. I had the idea way back in September, and started making plans for a spring launch. Lo and behold, the great creator has made it all the more possible for me and my group by giving us all this time. Beautiful how that all works.
    Praying for your health and safety in these weird times; planning for the gathering in September.
    Much love, Karen E-cubed

  2. Marylin Tyrol says:

    So so happy to have rediscovered The Artists Way! Found my old book with yellowed pages and have begun anew. On Day #23 of morning pages and stretching to find Artists dates. They are my own little secrets filled with guilty pleasure! I so want to come to the Gathering in September🙏 But if not…I live within driving distance to Kripalu!!! So one way or another I look forward to meeting and spending time with you. I do believe our paths will cross. Thank you for all that you are doing to keep your work fresh and alive. Namaste💕🙏

  3. Dante A. Bacani says:

    Thanks, Julia! I first did The Artist’s Way in a class in the late 1990s. What wiith being under quarantine / isolation for the foreseeable future, last week I decided to ask a few friends to re-do it with me via Zoom (and they invited a few friends, and so on), and we’ve formed a Creative Cluster / Sacred Circle that’s currently going through Week 1 together. I’m sharing your post with the group, as the question of how to do Artist’s Dates during Coronavirus Lockdown came up in our initial Zoom meeting last Saturday.

    I think the tools of The Artist’s Way and the reconnection to & strengthening of innate creative skills will not only be a tremendous help in getting through the next 12 weeks, but will also be valuable assets to the many people who’ll find that they have to reinvent themselves (personally and professionally) for a post-COVID-19 world.

    Best of luck to all in this strange, unsettling time!

  4. A lovely reminder – Thank you!
    The pages have been so important over this time of increased solitude. Daily clarity every morning. A step away from overwhelming news influx, a step inside!
    And I’m feeling much serendipity in reading this post and acting on creating regular artists dates – usually things I’m already doing for myself but can gain so much by giving them the artist date treatment.
    Utmost creative vibes to all. <3

  5. Bless you Julia. I am so grateful to have discovered “The Artist’s Way” in 1997 and with it’s guidance, my own creativity.

    It feels at this time as if we are being forced to go within. To go within our homes, to retreat into our minimal viable lives and possibly within ourselves. Surely at this time there aren’t two energies more important than; love and creativity.

    Best Dean

  6. As a musician & songwriter, I thought, for my Corona Artist Dates, of watching beloved bands & artists live in concert (on YouTube), and pretending that I am actually there. I already made a list of people I would have loved to see in concert, but never had the chance: Bob Marley, Tracy Chapman, Cat Stevens, UB40, Dire Straits, Santana. I think it’s gonna be a lot of fun, and I’ll be inspired & learn a thing or two!…

    As for the Artist’s Pages, I loved how you equaled it to a form of meditation in your book. That’s exactly how I see it and use that time, which is why I also get that it really has to be the first thing in the morning. ALso loved the images of Light & Power, and the insights on blurts versus affirmations.

    With love & light, warmest greetings from Cambodia

  7. Julia – I had discovered you a while ago, and I was so drawn to your methods of cultivating an artistic self. I came to know that I was not crazy; I just needed an outlet to let myself be, and what a freeing concept that was.
    Now that I write morning pages, and have artist dates, I have seen my authenticity in a new light – it is beautiful, and I have not felt that way before knowing you.
    Thank you for everything you have poured out. I am now on my way to recommend them to many other creative souls.
    Stay well,
    Ruth

  8. Lorraine says:

    Since the Denver Botanical Gardens is presently closed, I took myself on an Artist’s Date to the local Garden Center. Filled with shrugs and plants just right on the edge of blooming, waiting to be planted! A whole section for house plants and to start one’s veggie garden ! Did I mention the array of soaps, candles, pottery and even refrigerated fruit pies! Too many choices to purchase anything this time, maybe next time :)…..

  9. Sandra Cantrell says:

    Dear Julia,
    I have been engaging with Artists Way for a number of years now. I’ve gone through the Artist’s Way a few times, Vein of Gold, Walking with Water, and a few others. At the beginning of 2020 I was feeling a little stuck and lost and thought I would take up another round. Low and behold I discovered your book It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again! Just the thing as I enter well into my 60’s, kids grown, working part-time. I started the beginning part of March. It was incredible timing . I lost a week when big changes to my life occurred, but I have been so glad to have this uniquely appropriate format for these times. You discussing ways to deal with boredom and “too much time”, managing time….it’s as if the book was written for this period we are going through.
    Thank you so much for continuing to provide guidance for me, even now-especially now.
    Sandra Cantrell
    Fort Collins, CO

  10. Thank you Julia….I did The Morning Pages almost twenty years ago, and then moved on from it. It occurred to me in the beginning days of the public health measures that taking up this practice again would be way to stay grounded before I go to work and try to stay present to my clients in my role as a mental health therapist. It such a relief to remember that I had this practice I could dip back into.

    To your health and the health of your community,

    With love from Canada

  11. Hi Julia,

    Thank you for talking about Artist Date alternatives!

    I did the course two years ago and it changed me life – & I don’t say that about much else at all. I’ve been doing my pages almost every day since.

    I put together a creative cluster & we’re starting this Sunday! I’m so excited to go through this again with the beautiful souls that have chosen to join me.

    Thank you dearly, Julia <3

  12. Hi Julia!
    I was gifted with your 25th anniversary edition near my birthday, March 15th, 2020. I have found it a wonderful companion during these trying times. I live in the country, and was able to take a lovely artist date even while quarantined. I chose to create a rainbow to join the children from around the world who were creating rainbows and putting them in windows to combat depression during this Coronavirus quarantine. Because my house is not visible from the street where walkers go by, I bought spray paint off Amazon and painted some invasive pest weeds called phragmities. It was very fun and uplifting! Wish I could share the picture with you. 🤗🌈

  13. Renuka says:

    I lost my mum & nan this lockdown.

    Am turning to Julia & her AW programme to ensure my celebration of their lives, is in my dedicating my life to theirs.

    Being a life long rebel means rules are difficult to ingrain in my life in order to implement. But I’ve not given up (as yet). 🙏🦋🕉

  14. Dear Julia,

    Just re-reading two of your books that have been pivotal for me: The Artist’s Way and The Right to Write.

    Thank you for sharing actionable ways to nurture creativity. You have blessed my life for the good!

    Peace to you,
    Bruce

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