Journey 305: Beginning the Artist’s Way – Week One

I mentioned Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, after I heard Elizabeth Gilbert speak in Wichita. She recommended the book, which has the subtitle, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. Liz explained that she works through the twelve week course before she begins another writing project. Every time. 

I was intrigued. Although I had looked at the book many times, I had not purchased it. The book is mine now. I read the preparatory sections last week and today, I officially began the course. The two most vital tools, for freeing creativity, are the Morning Pages, three pages of free writing every morning. And the Artist Date, to be experienced once a week. 


I purchased a new notebook, specifically for my Morning Pages. There’s something inspiring about opening a new notebook to a clean fresh page, and writing with a pen. The idea is to write whatever comes to mind, without editing, overthinking, or rereading what’s written. The act of writing allows for a flow of energy that clears the mind and frees up energy for new thoughts and creative ideas. 

I had no difficulty filling three pages with words. However, I’m not used to writing with a pen as my blogs are typed on my phone or laptop. My hand cramped. But as I continued to write, shaking out my hand occasionally, the cramping subsided. I want to be very intentional about writing the Morning Pages first thing, as I begin my day. And be diligent about doing them daily. I’m excited to see what opens within me as I write. 


The second tool, the Artist Date, is time set aside weekly to take myself on a date. Or rather, take my inner artist on a date. The date can be a walk through the woods, viewing an art exhibit, hanging out at the library, watching a sunset or going to a concert. Anything that feeds my soul…and my inner artist. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. It doesn’t have to cost anything. I chose Sunday afternoons for date time. I focus on peace and caring for my heart and soul on that day already. It seemed natural to include this extension of self care. 

On this beautiful fall day, I thought I would go to the park and find a sunny spot to read or draw for my first date. But I was prompted instead to check the movie theater to see what films were playing. My inner artist didn’t want to sit at the park. I knew, as soon as I saw that Burnt was playing, that my first date would instead be watching this movie. 


I am drawn to movies about cooking. I rarely cook any more, so I’m not sure what the draw is. I just know I love the creativity, the artistry, that chefs have as they prepare exquisite meals that are as beautiful to look at as they are to eat. Movies such as Julie & Julia, No Reservations, and The Hundred Foot Journey have captivated me and stirred something deep in my heart. 

Burnt, starting Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller, was classy, smart and fun, with a life lesson about the balance between conformity and perfection. My inner artist was inspired, as I watched creativity expressed in a culinary way, while I pondered once again why these films speak so to me. I will watch this movie again…and consider taking a cooking class. 


Today’s journey was a great start along the path to greater creativity. Week One: Recovering a Sense of Safety provided much to think about along with exercises to be done throughput the week. Julia wrote of shadow artists, those caught between the dream of action and the fear of failure. Often, as children, we become fearful of offering our creative abilities because well meaning adults caution us against pursuing an artistic life. Or not so well meaning adults tell us we have no talent. 

I love this quote from the chapter for week one: “Very often audacity, not talent, makes one person an artist and another a shadow artist – hiding in the shadows, afraid to step out and expose the dream to light, fearful it will disintegrate to the touch.”  I determined several years ago to quit trying to be invisible.
And I understand why Burnt was the right movie to see today. Cooper’s character, Adam, teeters between fearfully hiding in the shadows and living audaciously, living his dream. He nearly gives up, ready to quit, willing to die. Another chef, his greatest competitor, saves him, telling him that he has to keep going, has to be who he is. “You are better than me. Which makes you the best. We all need you…need you to lead us to the places we would not go.”  That’s what offering my gifts, offering who I am looks like. It’s audacious…daring to take risks, daring to be bold. I want to go where I have not gone before, leading myself. No more hiding in the shadows.