Friday, May 20, 2016

Book Review: The Artist's Way

How to Get Out of Your Own Way and Unblock the “Spiritual Electricity” of Creative Flow | Brain Pickings:

A few days after I had the revelation in my last post here, I ordered a book from the library called the Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. I don't know what made me want to get it except it's been on my to-read list on Goodreads a while and I know a lot of successful people benefited from going through it. I finished the book today.

Ways this book changed me:

1. It helped me be much more honest with myself and aware of any little lies that I sometimes let into my system.

2. It made me think more about God as a coach who supports my dreams because he made me with them and sometimes pushes me towards them and reminds me of them with "coincidences" or what I like to call "God echoes".

3. Over and over again this book talks about how any kind of creativity is a leap of faith, bravery, confidence and how it's a spiritual practice. I would have to agree, because I've experienced creating music as a form of worship.

4. It helped me become more confident in my creative endeavors and get rid of any preconceptions that it doesn't matter.

5. It argues that everyone is meant to be creative, not just the NF types or special chosen ones.

6. Big big thing: In order to learn how to be a good artist, you have to give yourself permission to be bad at first.

7. Another big big thing: this book promotes self-love, which I think is very different than selfishness. Selfishness is unhealthy indulging in destructive self-deception that ends in actions that harm other people. Self-love is self-nurturing thoughts of encouragement and acts of kindness towards yourself (this can include naps). Because hey. People need love and healthier habits and sometimes we have to learn how to encourage ourselves.

From The Artists Way.... reclaiming your creativity:

(via pinterest)

What this book is not: 

It is not a book that will tell you to ignore the world outside and other aspects of life in order to thrive in your creativity. In fact, this book highly encourages exercise, yoga/stretches, healthy relationships, healthy boundaries, and "unnecessary" hobbies that will make you a more fully rounded person.

When I first started reading this book a few months ago - I gave myself room to spread it out into a few weeks longer than the prescribed 12 weeks - I was very excited because it sounded like the author was a Christian the way she talked about God, and I was excited for another reason. The exercises in it and ways of thinking reminded me of what another Christian minister, Dr Jim Richards, teaches about how what we believe highly affects everything around us.

The more I kept reading this book though, the more it seemed that the author was talking more about a big energy source than a powerful being with a personality who wants a relationship with his children. However, she tries to make the book accessible to people of all backgrounds and not be preachy.

One more thing. The preconceptions the author has about her audience are sometimes incorrect.
Some of the exercises and questions in this book probably won't apply to you or your background.

Having said those things, there is so, so, so much truth in this book that is valuable and that I've never seen in other books on writing (that includes Stephen King's book On Writing) and there's far less language in this one.

I highly recommend it to any and all artists, especially anyone dealing with writer's block or creative insecurities. Take notes, think about it, talk to people about the ideas in it. It's one of those books you'll want to talk about with creative friends to confirm or disprove the ideas in it.

Use the book in the way that is most helpful to you. Go read it.

Whether or not it's worth buying:

I know I'll be rereading through it and underlining things and making notes. And I bought three copies of it, one for myself and two for two friends.


  1. Wow, this sounds like a great book! I love that it talks about self love. I think you're right about self love being different than selfishness. I heard a good illustration of self love the other day: The Bible says to love your neighbor as yourself. "As yourself" insinuates that you love yourself already.
    My aunt recommended a book to me called "The Creative Call: An Artist's Response to the Way of the Spirit" by Janice Elsheimer. From what I know of it, it sounds a bit like this book, but definitely from a Christian worldview.

    1. Oh that's awesome! I'll have to find that book!