I don't consider myself an artist. I don't paint. I don't make serious photographs with the traditional film in the traditional dark room. I like making things, I like being creative, I like writing and design and feeling engaged. But I don't think of myself as an artist. At least I didn't two weeks ago. But over the last two weeks, I've had the pleasure of test driving a website through the Blogher Book Club. Yes, I said website! Well, actually it's an app and a website that was created based on a best-selling book, The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. I received a free membership to the website from Blogher and was compensated for my review here, but as usual, all of my bossy opinions are my own.
The Artist's Way is a book that my dad gave me several years ago, when he was dabbling in painting and wanted to share the creative wealth. It's a workbook format that gives you some basic exercises to do each week in order to get more in touch with your creative side. Julia Cameron believes everyone is creative and an has an artist lurking inside of them. (Somehow that sounds ominous, like some depressed looking man in a black turtleneck and beret is watching you. Maybe that's just a beatnik, anyway...)
So I pulled out my book and I signed up on the website. They fit together perfectly. The first most important exercises are the daily pages. Three pages, written on real paper with a real pen in the morning, where you pour out all the clutter and stuff that's filling your head. I think of the daily pages as opening a jam packed hall closet, watching all the detritus of your daily life fall out, all the hats and board games and mittens and coats and junk, sweeping it away and starting with a clean, empty space, ready for new things. In this case it's not that new coat you had your eye on, instead it's new ideas, new ways of seeing the world and new activities. The other exercises include weekly Artist's Dates, where you are assigned something like "visit a new area in your city that you haven't been to before" or "go to a candy shop and buy yourself some of your favorite childhood candy." These activities aren't done with friends or your partner, you do them alone. And by being alone in a new area or alone thinking about the first time you ate that Gobstopper, you get hit with memories or ideas or experiences you may not have noticed before. And then you can take these new thoughts or feelings and use the Creative Pages section of the site to get creating! The website is easy to use and very positive, filled with creative quotes and affirmations. I enjoyed it a lot. But I find that my creativity likes paper and pens and the tactile feeling of cutting and ripping and gluing so I didn't feel creative using the creative pages. I felt stuck a bit.
But the daily pages, the Artist's Dates and the quotes combined with the repetition of writing daily to clear out the cobwebs, and then focusing on the way that I see my world and the rather small box I keep my creativity contained in was slowly torn down. I think by next week I might even feel like an "artist", though I promise I won't start wearing a beret.
I highly recommend The Artist's Way book, and if you are looking for a companion piece to enhance your daily use of the book, I think the website or app would be a nice fit, but when my subscription expires, I think I'll stick to my old fashioned paper journals.