I’ve hesitated to write an On the Shelf post about Julia Cameron. First of all, it seems sort of cheesy to write that the author of a series of self-help books is one of your favorite authors. Secondly, I’ve already written about her work on this blog, several times.
I wrote my personal history with the Artist’s Way and how it took me three times to get through it. I brainstormed Artist Dates for Walking in this World. I told you all when I started Finding Water a few months ago.
Obviously, I get a lot out of her books, or I wouldn’t keep going back into them for more insights. It seems like an obvious addition for On the Shelf.
How I Found Her
I was referred to an Artist’s Way group, actually. I bought the book as part of a small social / therapy group who were going through the book together. I did not complete the full first month before I gave up on the group approach. But I liked the book. I liked the concept, so I held onto it.
Why I Love Reading Her Work
The on the shelf format doesn’t necessarily apply in this case. I’m not talking about reading fiction, I’m talking about reading a chapter a week for 12 weeks per book. I’m talking about exercises and journaling. I’m talking about doing an awful lot of homework.
What I Learn About Writing From Her
This is the meat of it. I’ve learned more about myself, my process and my heart and mind via Cameron’s work than I have from any other author. I’ve learned far more than I can outline here. But here are a few highlights:
- I learned the nature of my artist “blocks” and how to get around them. I learned that more often than not, my block is a back log because I haven’t been writing or creative enough and I’m afraid to open the floodgates. Freewriting for a set period of time, word sprints, writeordie.com these are all things I can do to push past blocks.
- I learned how to talk to my inner critic, how to bargain with her. I learned how to balance her need for perfection with my artist’s need to create without the critic looking over her shoulder.
- I began a process of writing Morning Pages every day. I’m on volume 42 of my journals. My pages are my therapy, my testing ground, my thinking through place, my safe vent, and my resting place. I would never have found this amazing process if it weren’t for her.
- I grew spiritually. I’m not going to get all preachy or anything, but I do think that art is connected to the rest of the universe, and it’s a way of connecting people together. Creating is an act of faith. There’s more to it, but that’s a start.
- I unlocked adventurous parts of myself. I’ve taken acting classes, painted walls in my house, taken dance classes, learned to throw pottery, gone to open mic nights and more as a result of Artist Dates and unlocking my sense of exploration.
- I recognized the value of diligent, gentle, daily practice.
It’s safe to say that without these books this blog wouldn’t exist, Salvaged would never have been finished. I owe these books – and this author – quite a lot.