This January 25th, 2012, at Unity of Fayetteville, I’ll be creating an Artist’s Way Creative Cluster. This 12 week process is based on Julie Cameron’s best selling The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.
For those of you unfamiliar with The Artist’s Way, it began with author Julia Cameron sharing her ideas with a few artists in her living room. Almost 4 million copies of The Artist’s Way and more than two decades of teaching her creativity tools around the world in lecture and workshop form. The book focuses on unblocking your creativity with tools, exercises, and journaling.
I have been using The Artist’s Way as part of a Graphic Design class titled Creative Identity I for the past four years at the New Design School in Fayetteville, Arkansas. While I have done the exercises along with the class each time and have had huge creative breakthroughs, I have decided to create a “Creative Cluster” which is more peer based.
I’ve found that most people who have gone through the 12 week process discover HOW they create and WHAT they love to create. From writing to art to music to screenplay writing, this course is not just about traditional ‘art.’ It is for those wishing to let their artistic ‘inner artist’ out onto the world. For those people told, “You’re not ‘good enough’.” For those who even help others in their creative endeavors while letting yours be stuffed and buried.
We’ll have an Introductory Class on the 25th to answer questions and do an introduction to the course which will start February 1st, 2012.
What do I need to attend and how much is it?
The class is free, but it is suggested to bring a donation for Unity of Fayetteville when you can. $5 is a usual amount, but NOT required (you can also donate more if you like).
You WILL need the book, however. It is very inexpensive with USED paperback versions starting at $4.49 on Amazon.com.
You will also need a journal of some sort.
Cameron never offered ‘certification’ for The Artist’s Way. She wanted the process to be free to everyone. As stated before, I will help get things started, facilitate when needed, and let the group become peer oriented for our Creative Cluster.
The Two Basic Tools
The Artist’s Way uses TWO basic tools: Morning Pages and the Artist Date. These two things help in the creative recovery. Learn more about these tools on her site.
Additional Class Guidelines
(From Julie Cameron’s Website)
- Use a Twelve-Week Process with a Weekly Gathering of Two to Three Hours. The morning pages and artist dates are required of everyone in the group, including facilitators. The exercises are done in order in the group, with everyone, including the facilitator, answering the questions and then sharing the answers in clusters of four, one chapter per week. Do not share your morning pages with the group or anyone else. Do not reread your morning pages until later in the course, if you are required to do so by your facilitator or your own inner guidance.
- Avoid Self-Appointed Gurus. If there is any emissary, it is the work itself, as a collective composed of all who take the course, at home or otherwise. Each person is equally a part of the collective, no one more than another. While there may be”teachers,” facilitators who are relied on during the twelve-week period to guide others down the path, such facilitators need to be prepared to share their own material and take their own creative risks. This is a dialectic rather than a monologue – an egalitarian group process rather than a hierarchical one.
- Listen. We each get what we need from the group process by sharing our own material and by listening to others. We do not need to comment on another person’s sharing in order to help that person. We must refrain from trying to”fix” someone else. Each group devises a cooperative creative “song” of artistic recovery. Each group’s song is unique to that group – like that of a pod or family of whales, initiating and echoing to establish their position. When listening, go around the circle without commenting unduly on what is heard. The circle, as a shape, is very important. We are intended to witness, not control, one another. When sharing exercises, clusters of four within the larger groups are important: five tends to become unwieldy in terms of time constraints; three doesn’t allow for enough contrasting experience. Obviously, not all groups can be divided into equal fours. Just try to do so whenever you can.
- Respect One Another. Be certain that respect and compassion are afforded equally to every member. Each person must be able to speak his own wounds and dreams. No one is to be”fixed” by another member of the group. This is a deep and powerful internal process. There is no one right way to do this. Love is important. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to one another.
- Expect Change in the Group Makeup. Many people will – some will not – fulfill the twelve-week process. There is often a rebellious or fallow period after the twelve weeks, with people returning to the disciplines later. When they do, they continue to find the process unfolding within them a year, a few years, or many years later. Many groups have a tendency to drive apart at eight to ten weeks (creative U-turns) because of the feelings of loss associated with the group’s ending. Face the truth as a group; it may help you stay together.
- Be Autonomous. You cannot control your own process, let alone anyone else’s. Know that you will feel rebellious occasionally – that you won’t want to do all of your morning pages and exercises at times in the twelve weeks. Relapse is okay. You cannot do this process perfectly, so relax, be kind to yourself, and hold on to your hat. Even when you feel nothing is happening, you will be changing at great velocity. This change is a deepening into your own intuition, your own creative self. The structure of the course is about safely getting across the bridge into new realms of creative spiritual awareness.
- Be Self-Loving. If the facilitator feels somehow “wrong” to you, change clusters or start your own. Continually seek your own inner guidance rather than outer guidance. You are seeking to form an artist-to-artist relationship with the Great Creator. Keep gurus at bay. You have your own answers within you.
Link to course description: http://juliacameronlive.com/the-artists-way/
I’m only beginning my creative writing career. I haven’t sold any writing, but I have been published here and there. Not to mention on my own site. Oops. I mentioned it.
I have, however, been a ‘creative’ for my entire life. Whether I was pretending to be Speed Racer and taking the Mach 5 to new speeds, playing “Lost Boys” with my best friend, Davy, as I played the smart boy and he played the strong one to get us out of a lava flow dangerously getting closer and closer, or drawing out a story for a graphic novel that I left unfinished, I’ve been ‘creating’ things my whole life.
In fact, I realized a few years ago, that I was even ‘creating’ my life.
When I was asked to extend a course in Creative Identity from one semester to a second semester at the New Design School, a graphic design school in Fayetteville, AR, I was conflicted on what direction to take. In the first course, I took the new students on an inward journey of creativity to see how they viewed themselves and the world to better communicate their commercial creative designs to come. So where could I take them in a second course?
Luckily, I’m surrounded with amazing people, including my lovely, talented, and amazing partner, Christi, who said, “Have you read Making Ideas Happen yet?” I’ll review this book in another article. But it led to the perfect foundation for the class. One aimed at teaching action.
But it was missing an element.
I went through two or three other books and finally landed on Twyla Tharp’s book, The Creative Habit: Learn it and use it for life.
While Twyla Tharp is a dancer, her life is all about creativity. And in this book she breaks down all the aspects of living a creative life, the struggles, joys, and accidents along the way.
This book brought the soul of the class to life.
The graphic design of the book also creates a vibrant, easy to read experience. But that’s a different kind of review.
I walk into a white room
The book begins…
I walk into a large white room. It’s a dance studio in midtown Manhattan. I’m wearing a sweatshirt, faded jeans, and Nike cross-trainers. The room is lined with eight-foot-high mirrors. There’s a boom box in the corner. The floor is clean, virtually spotless if you don’t count the thousands of skid marks and footprints left there by dancers rehearsing. Other than the mirrors, the boom box, the skid marks, and me, the room is empty.
As she shares her lifetime journey of dance, she takes you through stories of meeting with Billy Joel to pitch her broadway show idea Movin’ Out, through her failures, her successes, and gives you insights to how she and other creative lifestyles evolve and grow.
I was amazed at how easily her The Creative Habit book matched the content of Making Ideas Happen, by Scott Belsky, over the 12 week class. Her views on how getting “An ‘A’ in Failure” lined up perfectly with how creative professionals shouldn’t get bogged down by failing, but take time to reflect on the internal and external forces and find the lessons to be better prepared in future endeavors.
Tapping into your “Creative DNA,” “Scratching” for ideas, and, my favorite chapter, “Before You Can Think out of the Box, You Have to Start with a Box.”
Again, the parallels with Making Ideas Happen were in alignment where the topic was all about how we all are much more creative when we have a smaller canvas to work on. For example, Tharp said to watch out for people that offer you all the resources you need, no direction, and no restrictions as they are setting you up to fail. But beyond that, Tharp describes her system for creating projects. She makes a box to put all her ideas into and then begins organizing everything into an order to move forward. This is nearly identical to the Action Method described in Belsky’s book.
Tharp also gives exercises to help those interested in building a habit of creativity at the end of every chapter. Some are simple introspective exercises. Others are more time consuming and require physical activity, from stomping your foot and shouting, “BEGIN!” to taking yourself on a trip of exploration.
This book is a MUST for those who have gone through the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, as it shows a real life example of someone who has implemented living a creative life by creating a real creative habit.
You can find all three books on Amazon.com for well under retail.
Photo Credit via http://www.twylatharp.org/: © Richard Avedon.