Julia Cameron: Is creativity for everybody? (I)


As defined by the Wikipedia, creative writing is “any writing that goes outside the bounds of normal professional, journalistic, academic, or technical forms of literature.” Hale (2008) defines creative writing as “anything where the purpose is to express thoughts, feelings and emotions rather than to simply convey information.” But, is creativity accessible to everybody? Are we all artists?

Well-known for her methods to wake up creativity, Julia Cameron has written several fictional and not fictional books and developed a number of forms of art, from poetry to film-making. Having flirted with drugs, alcohol and psychosis, she found her way through teaching creative unblocking in the 80’s. As Cameron says on her blog, she “was praying for a sense of direction and I heard, teach.”

The written version of this teaching is her most famous book, “The Artist’s way”; a three-month method, with weekly assignments. Even if it is not only addressed to authors, her proposal for creative unblocking focuses in writing (the morning pages) as the key tool to overcome the block; among other features, like the artist’s date, the fight against procrastination and self-rejection, visualizing and creating energy flows. Cameron underlines the necessity of understanding creativity as a whole process.

After a reflection on creativity and self-perception, the method starts proposing the two main tools that will follow-up the recovery of the blocked artist. These are the morning pages and the artist’s date. The morning pages are three pages (and not sheets) analyzing fears and doubts, anger and despair. It should be made in the morning, before the daily routine eats the artist inside, handwritten and free. Free meaning that grammar, logic, punctuation or even spelling are unimportant, as the goal is to ease the subconscious to conquer the surface.

In parallel, every week, the artist’s date draws on observation. Cameron knows by experience that creative people tend to overload themselves with work and daily life obligations and forget to nourish their mind and soul with new things. The artist’s date gives them back the thrilling of discovery, opening doors for inspiration. Hence, Cameron proposes the students to book two hours every week only for themselves. Obligations should pass afterwards and these two hours are sacred for active creativity, preferably spent on a different craft of the student’s own. Two hours to go for a walk, to embroider, to paint… anything that the person has not allowed him/herself for a while.

Through these and other exercises “The Artist’s way” also works on self-rejection. Cameron describes how art is lived as superfluous, voluntary ignored in favor of practical things. During the weeks, she anticipates when self-rejection will be stronger and even the tricks our mind plays on us to avoid the creativity paths. Cameron explains perfectly why and how the artist gets scared and the consequences of following one trail or another. Building on success (big and small) and recognizing irrationality more easily, the student ego is enhanced throughout the three months.

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