• Exploring the Artist’s Way

    Posted Posted by Guest Writer in WBN News & Events     Comments 1 comment

    The other night I was talking with a friend in Portland who is considering a career change.  He has been in Information Technology for 20 years, but feels the need to pursue his creative path–he just doesn’t know where that might lead, or how to uncover his passion.  I mentioned my experience with The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron–as I have many times in conversations with people interested in creativity.  I shared how working through that book–morning pages, artist’s dates, and the exercises throughout, had greatly expanded my concept of myself as a writer, and shed light on the limitations in thinking that had held me back.

    When I bought a copy of The Artist’s Way in 1994, I took it home and put it on the bookshelf, where it sat for two years.  I would sheepishly glance at it when I passed by. Why? Because I knew on some level that if I took a serious pass at that book, I would be upping the ante on the pursuit of my creativity, and would likely discover things that I didn’t want to see.

    In 1985 I had written a book and had publishers interested in it–but I walked away from publication. I had no good explanation.

    In 1994, I had written a second book, a novel, and in preparing for publication, I had hired a marketing consultant to help me draft a query letter to send to literary agents.  During the conversation, it came up that I had walked away from the first book.  His puzzled look was very understandable as he asked “How are you going to make sure that doesn’t happen again?”  My fumbling response seemed lame to me, and I’m sure to him as well.  That’s when I bought The Artist’s Way, but didn’t read it.

    By 1996, agents and publishers had responded positively to the second book, and it looked like I was going to once again walk away from publication.

    At that point, I didn’t have much to lose and a lot to gain from giving The Artist’s Way a try.  The first time, I went through the book on my own, very diligently writing my morning pages each day, going on artist’s dates each weekend, and tackling the next set of very probing and incisive exercises about my creativity, my passion, and my roadblocks.

    The second time I went through the book with two other people.  The accountability of showing up to our weekly meetings and being able to say “Yes, I did my exercises” and the transparency of divulging to the group what resistance I might have dredged up that week–which was sometimes very deep–made the whole experience much more rich.  I was taking an inventory of myself as a creative person and a writer, and finding ways to diminish my resistance and allow myself to succeed.

    In 2008, when I finally took a memoir to publication, I knew that my experience with The Artist’s Way was a pivotal element in that process.  Now I will go back and publish those first two books!


    How about you, WriteByNighters? Any books similar to The Artist’s Way that spur you on in your creative endeavors?


    Lost creativity and the effects of family alcoholism are just two of the elements of the story Dan L. Hays explores in his first published book, Freedom’s Just Another Word, which chronicles events around the time of his father’s death. It is the first of a cycle of seven books about healing old wounds with his father. That cycle will culminate with Nothing Left to Lose, written in 1993, about a critical turning point in his father’s life, depicted from a perspective of forgiveness and admiration.

    Dan has been pursuing his craft for more than 25 years. His passion has always been writing, but he had a writing block that he could not understand for many years. He wrote two books that publishers were interested in, but he backed away and the books were never published.

    Read more of Dan’s work on his blog and at Life as a Human, or follow his various radio features.  You can also catch him on Twitter and Facebook.


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    Justine Tal Goldberg

    As you know, I’m an Artist’s Way enthusiast. It was the first instructive book I read that actually showed results. It’s extremely useful for hands-on solutions to the emotional difficulties of writing. For creative inspiration, I turn to my favorite books, short stories, and writers, e.g. “The Lover” by Marguerite Duras, “Helping” by Robert Stone, and (no surprise here) Paul Auster, respectively. Dan, last we saw you here at WBN, you suggested that we run an Artist’s Way group like the one you mention in your post. I love the idea. What do you think, WriteByNighters? Would you be into… Read more »

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